Ready to Start Blogging!
It’s 2018, and I’m starting to blog. Why? There is so much clutter and confusion on the Internet. Why add to it?
Which brings up another question: who invented the Internet? Who conceived of the idea, designed it, and created it? NOBODY! Some made connections between several large computers so that scientists could exchange information. Other information appeared from fields of study outside of the sciences. Then they noticed odd little notes. And email emerged with no designer, no plan. Something like this. “I’ll be in town next week. Are you free for lunch?” I don’t actually know what the first email said or who sent it. What I know is that connections to this thing were spreading, making a huge amount of documents available, and a librarian showed it to me on her computer. And CERN in Europe invented the World Wide Web (www) to help us navigate the information jungle that nobody conceived of or designed.
Some aspects were intentionally developed. But, when American students created Facebook, did they have any inkling that they were creating software that would be weaponized by a foreign adversary and used to disrupt an American election? And elections in other countries?
What’s happening to our world? How do we fit into the overall direction that human culture is going?
It makes me think of Miriam, the sister of Moses. (Stay with me for a minute.) She crossed the bottom of the Red Sea that was temporarily blown dry, climbed up the eastern shore, and turned back to see a tsunami overpower the Pharaoh’s army, the greatest power in the world. Egyptian historians didn’t record it, but that moment was pivotal for Miriam and her people, and she sang in celebration. She looked back at drowning enemy soldiers and knew she was free to walk away from slavery. Apparently, she did not look to the east at the Sinai dessert and consider the many hazards that lay ahead.
I feel that I’m standing at a pivotal point. Looking back, I see astounding accomplishments. Just in my lifetime. Found a cure for polio and nearly eradicated it from the planet. Traveled to the moon and came back. Tamed cancer. Cloned a sheep. Developed useful artificial arms and legs. Diminished hunger and improved literacy around the globe. Changed global supply of goods with reliable transportation. (In my kitchen are chocolate bars from Uganda made by a producer in Arkansas.) And communication! A chocolate farmer in Uganda might read what I write, maybe with the help of translation software, and that software now runs on artificial intelligence. Look back! Celebrate what has been achieved!
Turn and look forward. There is no road to guide us into the future. If we’re venturing into the unknown, why don’t we slow down and determine what’s ahead? Would you drive a speeding car across a cow pasture in a blinding rain? Would you ski down a strange slope into a fog of whiteout that hides trees until its too late too turn away?
Miriam and her people, singing beside the Red Sea, needed to travel across the Sinai desert, but they didn’t make it. It was the children, the next generation who had not known slavery, that entered the promised land.
Children today, born in the digital world, move through it without hesitation. Robots are ordinary. My car slows if there is traffic ahead. Artificial intelligence is poised to do something, not sure what.
So, what did I write? A novel about prehistoric people facing a climate change and making their way in a world that is foreign to what they knew as children.
For those prehistoric characters and for me it's like something that Oprah Winfrey said: "Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right."