Re: SOC: The Challenge of "The Second World"

Date: Sat Mar 24 2001 - 07:25:19 MST

In a message dated 3/14/01 7:20:19 PM Central Standard Time, writes:

> I think as long as our educational system keeps working in such a ruinous
> as of now (only 1 in 5 young people finish high-school these days), the
> current
> social consensus and generalized ignorance will keep the stagnation going
> Skilled individuals need to assume a personal compromise with salvaging
> education, as no governmental or private sector attempts to change things
> should be expected. As I said, I plan to compromise myself in such a way.
> m
> worried however I seem to be pretty much the exception, judging by how
> of
> the people in academics I keep in touch with in Argentina, keep telling me
> they
> are moving abroad or can't wait to move abroad at the first chance they
> might
> have to do so. Is the whole thing hopeless and are the likes of me naive
> fools?

No but, without meaning to be pessimistic about your own personal plans, I
think that single individuals trying to fight the current situation within
the framework of current social systems and technologies cannot make any
meaningful difference. It is the classic case of sticking a finger in the
dike to try to stop the flood. The information-transfer rate of traditional
educational methods is simply inadequate to the task at hand. I admire your
desire to make a difference, but I think that a realistic assessment is that
there are simply too few people of good intentions working against forces
that are far too strong to make a significant difference. For all of my
ambivalence about the historical connotations of the word, "revolutionary"
action is required.

The question is, "What revolution?" The Marxist "Third world liberation"
ideology of Guevara and Castro and Subcomandante Marcos is utterly empty. It
is only the insularity of the cultural world of Second and Third world
academics and intellectuals that allows this nonsense to continue to
propagate. What is required is a completely new approach to the problems

Allow me to speculate on what the outlines of a fanciful, but perhaps more
fruitful approach might be. If we in transhumanist and extropian circles are
correct, then the possibility of reaching much more directly into the minds
of "the masses" in the undeveloped world lies in the not too distant future.
I have sketched here before my idea for a technology I call a "brain seed", a
super-cheap, solar-powered satellite information appliance. Imagine it could
be built for $1 per copy. Getting one into the hands of every human on the
planet might cost as little as $30 billion. This is a large sum, but one
that could be born by a world economy that might exist in ten or 20 years.

Now imagine that "we" (and who that "we" is a more important question than
how to build and distribute the "brain seeds") have planned for the time when
these devices begin to disseminate throughout the world. Imagine that we
have created a robust infrastructure of educational tools into which these
terminals will automatically connect when they are distributed.

To me, this "brain seed" scenario might hold the promise of the most
revolutionary leap in the human condition in history. It also presents the
potential for the most titanic cultural struggle in history. What
information will these brain seeds access? Determining the content of the
entry-way(s) into the truly global network they would represent would be the
greatest challenge our species has ever faced, because it would be the first
time that, AS A SPECIES, we would be able to address ourselves.

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

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