Phone Zombies: A new stage in human evolution?

We’ve all seen them, at some point in our environment we may have even been one of them: Phone Zombies. People so engrossed in their phones that they walk along the street with their heads bowed ignorant of any outside stimulus.

They aren’t just on the street, they are on trains, in pubs, in coffee shops and restaurants, people who are so drawn in by their smartphones that they see and hear nothing else. They could cause accidents, be the victims of muggings even die and nothing would stop them from staying with their mobile phones.

I was recently in my local weatherspoons meeting with friends before going out for an evening meal and one of my friends looked at another table and there were three guys sitting there not talking to each other, just staring down at their respective mobile phones. Now if I had done that with my friends for any length of time it would have been seen as rude, but what is normal for one group isn’t always normal for another.

We all considered this strange dichotomy, with one of my friends going so far as to ditch social media and his phone for the better part of a week. Examining this further, it seemed to be a generational thing: the day-to-day usage of smartphones seemed to increase with each generation, millennials would use mobile phones more than their generation y or x counterparts.

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An all too common site in the world today or a symptom of something larger?

However this seems to be too easy an explanation dismissing the fact that many people in these opposing generations use their phones just as much as the main smartphone using groups.

The use of smartphones is the first inclusive social phenomenon in so much as it doesn’t vary from social class to social class, working class people use their phones just as much as the people perceived to be the social elite. People have become so dependent on their smartphones, that they retain an almost drug like addiction to them.

So we have to take a wider view, applying this logic to us as a species and the mediums used to communicate: after all a phone is just a tool which we use to access this stream of consciousness, it is the stream that shapes the debate.

In the times before the internet (seems strange to think that it’s only been around for 30 years), people communicated with the methods at their disposal: landline telephones, letters, spoken word debates, newspapers and television.  We didn’t have the sort of broad reaching far ranging access to the world that we have today.

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might have gone a little too far back in the way back machine

One might argue that this was a better time, but we still had ignorance, prejudice and things that were not documented. Now we have the ability to access the latest news, social interactions and the ability to air our views in a way that we have never had before. This should be the greatest time to be a human being, where we can truly change our world and know what it truly is to be human.

But it isn’t. In shaping our online world we have pulled away from the community aspect of humanity, we have become introverted individuals with everything to say online, but with nothing to say in the real world.

One of the greatest strengths of humanity is that humans build communities, we come together with a common cause to shape our surroundings and grow as a collective. That is how evolution occurs. Communities now seem to be moving online and as a species we are losing that aspect of coming together.

I can hear the voices saying: We come together online? Yes we do, but how much of that is definitive, how much is a person actively saying yes: I want to be a part of this community and shape its future and how much of it is just a click without conviction or an opinion without grounding.

We have the clarity of the written word, but the word is only as good as the writer and can easily be interpreted incorrectly or manipulated to suit a specific set of facts or guidelines. We have political leaders using twitter when they should be using their mouths and in some cases causing international incidents in the process.

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The twitter president: Donald Trump

So now we move onto the next part of the debate: human beings are doing more things online and through their smartphones than at any point in previous history. We talk online, we date online, we play games online, we contribute to debates online, we organise social interactions online.

As the technology evolves will we eventually become non talking apes who are incapable of articulating ourselves unless a wi-fi connection is present?

I would argue, yes we are. Technology is our friend, yes in so much as it has enabled us to enrich our lives, growing beyond the normal confines of our species to a point where we can become something different.

However, technological evolution has supplanted physical evolution as the main catalyst for change in the human species. Its like Jeff Goldblum says in Jurassic Park :people were so preoccupied with whether or not they could do a thing, we never stopped to if we should.

I have no issue with the people that say, why not? Its not as if physical evolution has done us any favours, but it has: we have evolved from a bunch of monkeys to the dominant species on this planet.

As our technology has grown and evolved, we have created an environment that is unsustainable, contributing to our increasing isolation as individuals and making us lazier as a species. Phone zombies are just the latest symptom of this problem.

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Is this the future for humanity if technology runs riot?

Should we go door to door and burn our wifi routers and mobile phones?  No, as a society currently going cold turkey would ultimately cause more harm than good, but at some point there will be a movement away from this technology, a technological or physical backlash against the invasion of technology into our lives.

We will lose our drive forward and technology will grow stagnant, at this point the only real change will come from our old friend evolution. We will have to evolve beyond the technology that has brought us to this point, whether that evolution occurs in 1,000 or 10,000 years is anyone’s guess but it will happen, of this I am certain.

Protestors from SACOM (Students and Scho

Will there be a backlash against technology?

Humankind and the hive mind- Our collective future?

The largest ant colony on planet Earth was found in Hokkaido Japan, in 2009. The estimated population of the colony was a whopping 306 million ants, all existing in total harmony and working towards the same goal: the continued survival of the colony.

The current human population of planet Earth is 7.3 billion individuals. Each of these individuals has their own sociological imperative, their own wants and desires and they all pursue different aims in very different ways. Everyone is trying to have it all, regardless of their community and the planet around them.

But what if they didn’t, what if every person worked towards the same goal, the ultimate benefit of the colony/planet as a whole?

What would that entail and would it benefit mankind to sacrifice individualism in pursuit of something better, the success of the species?

The sceptics among you would argue that we already sacrifice individualism for a collective set of aims and ideas when we turn on our electronic devices, our phones and televisions and indeed our computers. I would be inclined to agree with this scepticism having seen so many people become addicted to their computers and so many phone zombies on the streets in the mornings on my way to work.

Although there is a perceived collectivism, there is a crucial distinction as we can choose to ignore these distractions when we are proceeding on our individual set of goals. Collective ideas and thoughts explored in media may influence our thinking to varied degrees but they do not motivate us.

One could argue that this media could be used to make this collectivism a reality, through the use of manipulation both conscious and subconscious. Is the internet a first step in this journey?

When thinking about it, we all connect to it and it does determine what many people do, is it a collective intelligence by another name? Or is it just a method of communication.

The logical progression to this would be a centralised system which humanity could plug into to receive its objectives and plans for the day/month/year in the same way that the ant receives its own biological imperatives through its genes. Ants are grouped and perform tasks based on their biological disposition. Soldier ants are geared differently to worker ants and so on.

Humans, while not possessing the clear biological distinctiveness of Ants could be split into groups based on things like their location, their age and their natural attributes. Those intellectually gifted individuals could be tasked with improving the earth as whole while those predisposed to physical labour could be tasked with commensurate tasks to their abilities.

Individuals unable to work or too old to do so would not have to work as their imperatives could be tailored to their situation, they could be tasked with recording and documenting the collective history of the species. This would avoid the ostracising of these individuals which exists in our independent society, in so much as everyone would have a purpose.

In the same way as ants follow a queen, humans could follow a technological queen. That is to say a computer system which could devise and impart imperatives to every member of the species. It is crucial to ensure that this computer is not corrupted or co-opted by an individual/group of individuals and used to further their own ends.

The base for this collective consciousness exists already and would only need to be augmented by new technologies which would need to both integrate into our bodies and likewise integrate into our minds.

Physical technological integration would involve a similar set up to the human nervous system, with various parts transmitting and receiving data to a central hub in the same way that the brain currently does.

Technological integration from a mind based standpoint would most likely involve the integration of a device into the cognitive areas of the brain. This device could impart the imperatives of the greater human colony as a whole and given time/technological expansion could send and receive messages in a way far more efficient than any other current human method of communication.

Additionally, greater pooled intelligence would lead to quicker achievement of technological advances because one person tackling a problem takes time to solve it but 7.3 billion people solving one problem at the same time will solve the problem far sooner.

Biological advances gained from collectivising human consciousness could be used to breed generations of humans which can be of greater service to the colony as a whole. The problem is that increased manipulation may result in aberrations in the species and could also result in a kind of genetically lead society.

Sociological structures, groups and pastimes may survive but under a collective banner. The pastimes and entertainments of the few could become the collective entertainments and pastimes of all. They would provide the populous with an outlet while also enabling the collective to reinforce their collective consciousness or imperatives, which could be of great benefit to both.

Also the possibilities of species expansion to other planets are greatly increased due to the collective pooling of both intellectual and physical labour. Greater exploration and expansion of our own presence on this world could be beneficial to the indigenous animals but it may not. The collective consciousness imperative to preserve the colony could potentially slant towards a conservation imperative and with the absence of independent thought many species which are being hunted could be left alone to eventually thrive.

The problem is the one thing that defines us as individuals, our own free will. It is the greatest evolutionary gift we have and it has enabled us to achieve so much as individuals, but does free will hinder us from achieving our true potential as a species?

This question cannot be answered without diverging from the purpose of this blog which is to establish if humankind would benefit from a collective consciousness….

Would a human being be able or willing to suborn their own free will in order to have a greater purpose or be happy?

For many people, having a sense of purpose and being happy are things that remain elusive despite all their efforts to achieve them. Discontent with individual situations can often cause emotional disorders like depression or a desire to escape from reality which in turn can lead to bad habits/addictions. Being happy becomes an entire life’s pursuit, a pursuit which can often lead to naught.

But if these individuals were willing to suborn their free will in order to achieve this sense of purpose and happiness then theoretically they would achieve it. Their new purpose would be the collective purpose or whatever duties they are assigned to under this collective consciousness. The achieving of their tasks would be supported by the collective and ultimately their happiness could be drawn from the collective purpose.

They would be happy because they wouldn’t know any better as the free will to choose another vocation or be stimulated by other pursuits would not exist. The grass wouldn’t be greener on the other side because there would be no grass other than the collective grass.

Those who are already happy and have a purpose would undoubtedly rail against this attempt to collectivise the human species. Those that have it all will fight the hardest to keep it. But would they succeed against a newly collectivised humanity? Maybe, Maybe not.

Currently a collective will can topple governments and impart great change to structures both political and sociological, so one could argue the fight against a collective will would be a losing one.

Other casualties of collectivising human consciousness would be many of the world’s religions which would flounder due to the absence of free will and the absence of individuals to participate in worship. The potential side effect of this could be the growth of a neophyte religion within the collective consciousness. The collective will and imperative could become the religion for the newly collectivised populous.

The nation state with all its trappings may lead to the growth of independent colonies in the guise of states but as humanity collectivises itself the nation state could become irrelevant. Distances and borders are already to some degree irrelevant and greater sharing of information/consciousness would only serve to exacerbate this.

In any transaction involving a group of individuals there are winners and losers. Whether the losers outnumber the winners will play a significant part in whether the collective consciousness is implemented.

The question that needs to be asked is if the human race does implement this collective consciousness does it become something other than the human race. Would it simply be the human collective and could it be considered as one rather than a number. As we continue to evolve we may naturally develop a collective consciousness as a biological imperative and the collectivisation of humanity may occur anyway.

At the moment the human species is so split and discordant that the implementation of a collective consciousness becomes a virtual impossibility but it is possible to see a time in the future of our species where a collective consciousness could become both appealing and potentially implementable.

 

© R Simmons. All Rights Reserved.

What are the practicalities and consequences of time travel?

The discovery of the ability to successfully travel through time has drawn the imagination of many a science fiction writer and blockbuster film maker over the years. Visionaries like H.G. Wells and Steven Spielberg have imagined worlds where time is conquered and can be travelled in a way much like travelling to another country.

Aside from the fantastical qualities of discovering the ability to navigate a human being successfully from one period of time to another and back again, the practical implications of time travel are both astounding and frankly quite frightening.

The time travel discovery would undoubtedly begin with a scientist or mathematician adding a missing element or making a leap forward in an equation that either already exists or is in the process of being theorised. A prominent example of this in recent history would be Professor Stephen Hawking’s publication of A Brief History of Time, which used the pre-existing theories of Albert Einstein to augment Hawking’s hypothesis. This book, like Einstein’s earlier work was ahead of its time in terms of the theories proposed by its author.

This individual would then publish their equation in a scientific journal or independently, which would open it up to scrutiny by other scientists. As it’s just an equation at this stage, it still cannot be proven until the technology exists to prove it.

The possession of such knowledge would have to be tightly controlled.  Although the scientific community exists without borders, co-operation between individual scientists relies as it does currently on co-operation between governments.

Explanations would have to be made and a consensus established between the governments of the world to establish the practicalities to prove such a theory and to manage its eventual use.

It is there that you would most likely run into the first problem, how to ensure that this equation does not fall into the hands of a hostile government who would develop and then misuse the technology for its own ends.

A possible solution that presents itself in the co-operation between governments could be the dissolution of the various elements of the equation throughout the co-operating governments. This would mean that no government would possess the equation in its entirety and would have to co-operate with its international partners to facilitate its successful exploration.

This solution would in all likelihood work when the technology to undertake the journey was invented. Each government could possess part of the device required to travel through time and a consensus would be required to use the technology in any given sphere.

While the potential management of such a far reaching discovery presents us with unknown challenges, the perils of engaging in such an endeavour without sufficient preparation or groundwork speak for themselves. A single government, hostile or otherwise could use this discovery to change the history of itself and/or the other countries of the world.

Minor changes made, such as a change in budgetary direction or a change in employment law made in advance of a recession event could result in the changed country becoming stronger and more financially secure. This would have an ultimately beneficial effect on the country without causing the type of exposure of technology which did not exist in the period effected.

More obvious changes could be made, armies could be sent into battles which the changing country has lost to unduly influence the battles course. Advanced technology could be sent into the past to enhance the industry of the country being changed and so on. The examples of how this technology could be misused are numerous, all with staggering implications. The ultimate escalation of this would be the extermination of the first thing that crawled out of the sea, thus destroying all future generations of mankind.

The ethical dilemma that humanity will undoubtedly face is whether time-travel or temporal manipulation is contrary to the natural order of things. Will time be reduced to a child’s plaything? Or should we treat it with the same respect that we did before the discovery was made. Our decision in this respect will be the determining factor in how the technology is used and exploited for the benefit or detriment of humanity.

A backlash against this technological advance may follow, primarily motivated by religious groups, who have the most to lose from the exploitation of such a discovery. Indeed the discovery of time travel could be the nail in the coffin for many religions as they could now be disproved and shown for what they really are, sociological organisations of control.

Figureheads of religions could be scrutinised in the past, their miracles examined by science and their religious texts proved to be the work of sensationalist contemporaries, rather than their actual words. Religious opposition would be vehement in its desire to limit this discoveries use. However, this opposition will be overwhelmed in the face of humanities desire to explore the past, present and future.

Proceeding with the exploitation of time travel would have to be handled carefully from both a political and a diplomatic standpoint. New treaties governing initial co-operation between governments and ongoing relationships would have to be created.

To successfully limit time travel via diplomatic means, the greater definition of what time travel is and what is involved would have to be achieved. This may involve the creation of a scientific council on time travel, a body which could over time become a central governing body for the technology.

This body, independent of central government could effectively manage the use and abuse of time travel by humanity. Ideally it would be both created and staffed by scientists, but eventually as the technology grows so must the mechanisms to effectively govern it and people without a background in science may become involved. The agents, could administer the temporal treaties which are created in the various time periods in which they are abused.

This independence has a double usage, limiting who has access to time travel devices and could inspect countries to ensure that the technology is not being misused. They would have a similar job to the U.N weapon inspectors of today, albeit with probably greater funding and autonomy.

The recognition of the political rights of time periods is an inevitable consequence of the increase of usage in time travel technology. In concert with this increase would be an increase in black marketeering, which would have to be extremely well monitored.

Entire time periods would become off limits and free of manipulation, but obviously a few motivated individuals would slip through the net. New and dangerous words may enter the human vocabulary, temporal terrorism for example, maybe even a temporal war between opposing nations. The need for limits and checks to this power is never more needed at this point.

But maybe we are leaping forward in time when we talk about things like temporal war and terrorism. Let’s look at more of the practicalities.

A piercing of the time barrier is likely to be a very expensive and grand endeavour, both in financial cost and manpower used. That is also not to mention the likely huge amounts of energy utilised to produce the necessary conditions. The current, fuel inefficient society of the planet earth would not be able to sustain such energy usage for a long period of time.

But once the experiment succeeds, the danger commences.

Any incursion into another time period conducted in the strictest of scientific conditions is likely to leave a mark on the time period visited despite rigorous control methods.  Like ripples in a pond, the effect on the future could change the timeline significantly.  The only way to truly limit our effect on a time period is to create a force field that would keep us out of sync with the time period being visited. Then we could explore at our leisure, secure in the fact that there would be no trace of them when they explored.

Once the technology and our effect on the time periods visited can be fully controlled, the debate would begin about where to go in history.

The reflex action would be to go back in time and eliminate the evil individuals that have shaped history, like Hitler, Stalin and Napoleon. This would seem like the right thing to do, as it would save millions of lives and avert wars which cause humankind untold harm.  There is however no guarantee that this would work, eliminating one evil despot may create one that is even worse. The stopping of pre-existing wars may lead to more destructive conflicts. Evil individuals and horrific events that change history have to occur so that positive advances in humanities journey can occur. Without the Second World War, there would be no space program, no advanced technology no vaccines to stop diseases.  Despots need to exist to spring humanity into positive action.

Even the stopping of natural disasters would prove ultimately more costly, as disasters need to occur to increase our readiness to deal with them. Without greater knowledge of why these things occur the stopping of these occurrences is virtually meaningless.

If the stopping of world changing events is off limits to us another potential avenue of usage and one which may have less of a historical impact would be the stopping of manmade accidents. Accidents such as plane crashes, car accidents, and nuclear accidents would all be realistically stoppable in advance. Natural disasters would be harder to counter as we know so little about the causes of them, although an attempt could be made to curtail massive loss of life. The inevitable issue with this is how to decide what accidents to stop and in the case of disasters who to save. Is one life more valid than another because he/she dies in a plane crash rather than an automobile accident? By the same token, a person saved from a car accident could eventually become the worst dictator in human history or the other individual who was not saved may have cured cancer if they had lived.

 

If we want to greater anticipate the effects of changing history on a timeline we must have access to all the potential timelines. We must be able to view the multiverse as a whole. Only then would we be definitively sure that any intervention we make would not turn into something worse or better. But in our rush to understand time it could be suggested that we are attempting to play god and meddle in forces we have no business meddling in. Omnipotence gained too quickly could result in our destruction as we advance too fast before we are ready.

Not all areas of temporal incursion are off limits to humanity, but a non-interventionist ideology must prevail if we are to manage our timeline and prevent its contamination/change.

The greatest area of potential gain for humanity in its use of time exploration would be the expansion of knowledge of the past, present and future. We could travel back to the beginning of time and see the dawn of creation, prove evolution as a theory and gain knowledge about the formation of our planet. Exploration of human history alone could prove immensely valuable and complete the missing parts of our history. Myths and legends could be proven to be actual historical events, lost civilizations and continents such as Atlantis and the Mayans could finally be observed and understood. Combining the technologies of space travel with time travel, we could journey to neighbouring planets at different stages in their histories: We could see a fertile and green Mars, a thousand suns which have gone nova and the younger universe as a whole. We could also go forward in time and see how the story of the universe ends.

We could make contact with species in the past that existed on planets before our own was born and with knowledge of the end of our solar system and the universe, we could forestall the end of our own civilization. The temptation would be to save these species from extinction but again we are presented with the same ethical dilemmas’ which face us in the saving of our own species.  Why should they be saved and are we playing God?

Aside from knowledge gain, the industrial applications of time travel technology are limitless, trains could run better than on time, post could arrive before it is sent and diseases could be stopped in advance.

A humanity which becomes over dependent on this technology loses something, as there would be no place in this Swiss Clock universe for randomness and coincidence two of the great mysteries of life.

Following this through to its natural conclusion, greater understanding of time using the medium of time travel could result in us creating a world that exists outside of linear time. In such a world, would we become immortal? If time is not there to kill us, then we could truly live forever.

Such knowledge of the past, present and future would in due time enable us to usurp God.  Would we evolve from our new omnipotence, or would we remain the same flawed humankind which emerged from the trees those many millennia ago.  As with everything, only time will tell.

 

© R Simmons. All Rights Reserved.