Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Note to Self: Speed of Change, Speed of Brain

Typically, I opine about something in my blog posts. This post is not an opinion, or rather it is not a fully formed opinion. It is, rather, the opinion of others, an item of note that I want to file away inside my blog for future reference; a basis for further deliberation regarding a question unasked. It has to do with something I've been considering for years but which I am having extreme difficulty articulating.

So, for now, I will plant this note and come back to it later. I might also take a moment to acknowledge the slowdown in the number of posts in recent months. I am working on a number of musings that I want to share with you. I hope in coming months to get much more precise about what I hold to be important and particularly insightful about life itself.

My writing is devoted more these days to topics not ready for this blog. They require time and struggle and I have discovered dozens of wrong turns.

I know how "heavy" that might sound. It isn't meant to be; but, at the same time, I am on a spiritual journey, as I have mentioned before. And many aspects of my personal spirituality are becoming clearer...or, at least the difficulties in achieving meaningful insight into my areas of discovery are now much better defined for me.

More on all of these things in the future. But for now, just a note.

On the PBS News Hour tonight, while enjoying a meal of homemade cornbread, sweet creamed corn, pinto beans, and broccoli, I watched a report about the problem of creating jobs in the current economic climate. More specifically, the report focused on a controversial new book by economist Tyler Cowen entitled The Great Stagnation. It received a good (objective, pros and cons) review in The Economist earlier this year. While I don't know very much about this book beyond what I was told in the report (and in the previous review), I find aspects of its thesis both insightful and myopic. Reasons for both interpretations can be found in the PBS report itself.

Of particular interest to me was an interview with an expert supporting the antithesis to "the great stagnation" concept, a professor named Erik Brynjolfsson. At the end of the report he stated: "I'm an optimist about technological progress, but I'm not nearly as optimistic about our ability to keep up with it.

"We have got some real problems. I just want to make it clear that the problem is not stagnation. The problem is more serious in some ways, which is our basic human ability to keep up with technological progress. That problem is going to get worse and worse as technology speeds faster and faster."

My question (and the purpose of this note for future blogging) is: If technology is progressing at a rate beyond the ability of human beings to keep up, then who or what is driving the "progress"? Has humanity lost control of progress itself? My guess is the answer is "yes". Something new is happening. It believe it is fundamentally spiritual in origin and that is what I want to explore at a later date.

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