Tag Archives: Independence Day

Happy 4th July! The future of independence

We’re living in interesting times. We are seeing faster change than ever before, and we get to decide the next few steps humans make towards the future. What a privilege! On this day more than any, it is a time to celebrate freedom and independence, but we must appreciate their value if we are not to risk losing them..

I wrote in 2016 that we need to make sure we preserve independence of thought, and two years on, that seems even more important as people retreat into bubbles. If existing tensions between opposing bubbles continue to increase, conflict is increasingly likely. Indeed it is not uncommon to hear people  fools state how ready they already are for it, gearing up for a fight for their flavor of civilization. If we can’t dismantle the bubbles, then one way of living peacefully side by side after the conflict might be  to consider a dual democracy.

Dangers to freedom and independence are many and diverse.

Increasing surveillance presents a different kind of danger. As AI becomes ever more powerful, our activities and thoughts will be monitored even more intimately and in more detail. Information gathered can be used to manipulate you, and the tools there are already pretty sophisticated. Philosophers have always discussed free will, but it will be under increasing attack. Preserving independence of mind will become more difficult.

Large global corporations and wealthy individuals also have a lot of control via the ability to build, rent or buy these control mechanisms, with blatant advertising at one end and sophisticated bots at the other, and that’s only today.

On top of that, we also have ceding more and more power to activists, who bypass normal democratic due process to enforce change by threatening and bullying people into submission. Mob rule is already threatening democracy and the rule of law. Terror of being attacked by online mobs on twitter or Facebook also causes self censorship of both actions and words, and soon increasing surveillance could extend that to thinking. Many people already feel they are losing freedom thanks to this sort of mob rule. As often noted in such debate, 1984 was not meant to be a guide book.

AI can up-skill activists to make them even more effective. A less unlikely threat from AI is an AI uprising, though it’s possible that we could implement AI-based governance, with AI’s threatening us with all sorts of consequences if we misbehave, Forbin Project style.

A more futuristic independence issue is space based groups. We recent saw Arcadia anoint its first chief. Will we see Mars colonies declare independence? Probably, but when?

We see seemingly contradictory demands for independence too. Californians sometimes talk about becoming independent, but many Californians also want to remove border controls and effectively let anyone walk in. In fact, a lot of people across the USA and Europe support having open borders. Old-fashioned warfare between countries can result in a rapid change of governance and culture, but such wars in the West are thankfully unlikely for the time being. However, over decades open borders could greatly change demographic and democratic makeup and culture as effectively as an invasion, albeit very gradually. That may very well bring welcome change – America has been a highly successful collection of diverse immigrants ever since the second Indian ancestor set foot there – but from a strictly independence point of view, is it not still a challenge to Independence if you give away control to others, however gradually?

Globalization by definition cedes local independence to belonging to global communities. The people witnessing the Declaration of Independence all those years ago probably never imagined that one day people might see themselves not as Americans but as part of a global community, eager to wipe away borders and let people everywhere roam where they want, under some sort of unspecified global order. Who will control it? Who will write and enforce the rules? A globally scaled European Commission? That is how the EU sees itself, as a model for future world government, and there are 500 million Europeans. Will the USA become just a colony of a distantly run empire again?

Just a few thoughts. I’m done.

Happy 4th July!

 

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On Independence Day, remember that the most important independence is independence of thought

Division is the most obvious observation of the West right now. The causes of it are probably many but one of the biggest must be the reinforcement of views that people experience due to today’s media and especially social media. People tend to read news from sources that agree with them, and while immersed in a crowd of others sharing the same views, any biases they had quickly seem to be the norm. In the absence of face to face counterbalances, extreme views may be shared, normalized, and drift towards extremes is enabled. Demonisation of those with opposing views often follows. This is one of the two main themes of my new book Society Tomorrow, the other being the trend towards 1984, which is somewhat related since censorship follows from division..

It is healthy to make sure you are exposed to views across the field. When you regularly see the same news with very different spins, and notice which news doesn’t even appear in some channels, it makes you less vulnerable to bias. If you end up disagreeing with some people, that is fine; better to be right than popular. Other independent thinkers won’t dump you just because you disagree with them. Only clones will, and you should ask whether they matter that much.

Bias is an error source, it is not healthy. You can’t make good models of the world if you can’t filter bias, you can’t make good predictions. Independent thought is healthy, even when it is critical or skeptical. It is right to challenge what you are told, not to rejoice that it agrees with what you already believed. Learning to filter bias from the channels you expose yourself to means your conclusions, your thoughts, and your insights are your own. Your mind is your own, not just another clone.

Theoretical freedom means nothing if your mind has been captured and enslaved.

Celebrate Independence Day by breaking free from your daily read, or making sure you start reading other sources too. Watch news channels that you find supremely irritating sometimes. Follow people you profoundly disagree with. Stay civil, but more importantly, stay independent. Liberate your consciousness, set your mind free.

 

Freedom!

What a glorious day for the UK!

After a long and bitter fight with far too much unnecessary nastiness, the UK finally voted to walk away from the dead weight of the slowest growing regional economy in the world that was set on a path to inevitable destruction. In doing so, we will certainly now be followed by some other EU countries. Across all the EU, many people did not want to be forced into a United States of Europe, many don’t even want to be part of the EU at all. Now most will be able to demand the choice in their countries too, and some at least will follow. They will likely negotiate free trade deals with one another, without the baggage of political union.

A much smaller EU will be forced to either disband, or reform into a simpler free trade group, and won’t be able to dictate terms to the countries that have left.

After much turbulence and quite a few years, today’s EU will have reformed into a simple free trade block, or possibly three. Northern EU countries don’t share the same values as southern ones, and the new Eastern members may join together or join a North or South European trade block.

Freedom generates better quality of life, enterprise, wealth, and short term financial turbulence is just that, short term. When we emerge, and it will take time, we can all have a better future.

However, the bitterness we saw in this campaign, the lies, fear-mongering, and most of all the offensive name calling will not go away quickly. A lot of damage has been done and resentment built up. We wake to a country facing fantastic new opportunity and freedom, but a country divided. We must now take great care to diffuse that, to restore our traditions of living peacefully and amicably alongside others with whom we disagree. There will likely be more squabbling, there will be demonstrations, more name calling, maybe even some riots as some protest, throws blame, accusations, and stones. That needs good leadership, so it is essential that Cameron and Osborne at the very least are replaced.

Britain has some fine politicians, and some less fine. The campaign has shown clearly which are which. Some MPs on both sides of the campaign and across all parties showed their leadership ability. Some did so while maintaining proper respect for others, always acting with dignity, offering vision and sense, while others offered little more than threats and abuse. With the right leaders in charge, unity can be restored.

It is a different world today. The ripples from this referendum will transform politics across the EU and even the USA. I am excited. We know now that we will be free to do as we will, to run our country as we decide. Division is a very real problem but it can be repaired by good leadership, and together we can make the future genuinely better, not just for the UK, but for the rest of the EU, Norway and Switzerland.

Half the population didn’t get what they wanted, but the right decision was made and they will still reap the benefits even if they didn’t predict them. Provided of course that they accept the new situation positively and we can all work together again.

We can do that. This morning, the short term forecast is for unsettled weather, but the long term future looks great for everyone.