The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Columns

June 24, 2014

Primus Mootry: The clash of civilizations and the rise of the robot

I know. What does this topic have to do with you and me? The answer: everything. We have been slingshot into an uncertain future. It’s global. The clash of civilizations and its diverse features (like the rise of robotics), will affect the life and destiny of every man, woman, and child in the world.

It is not as though the clash of civilizations has never happened before. The major clashes are three: the move from hunter-gathering society to an agrarian, or farming, one; the shift from agrarian society in which eighty percent of the world’s population worked on farms of one type or another, to industrialism, carrying with it the near disappearance of family farms and the growth of urban centers; and now, the Information Age.

So the clash of civilizations (the way people live, work, and play) is in and of itself nothing new. What is new, or different, with the current Information Age is the pace of change — speed. The changes that occurred in earlier civilization forms (hunter-gatherers and agrarian) took place over tens of thousands of years. The period of change we are now in can be measured in decades, and things are speeding up.

In general, most people don’t like speed. You can get on a roller coaster, for example, and yell and scream and laugh as you are jerked through ups and downs and scary turns until the roller coaster stops.

But you know where to get on it and, when it stops, you’re back at roughly that same spot. The ride was scary, but safe.

By contrast, the roller coaster ride of clashing civilizations has no particular access point, you don’t know where the ride will stop, when it will stop, or where as an individual you might be when it does stop. What’s more, you are forced to take the ride whether or not we want to. It’s scary, and it’s real.

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