It’s a given that humanity will always grow and discover more over time. The general leaning is apparently that we will grow and discover more technologically, scientifically and even physiologically, but it doesn’t seem to me as if we apply that same thinking to our growth as people. The same humanitarian efforts, fund raising and establishment of organisations that are supposed to uplift humanity fall flat and seem to be less effective as we progress on our journey.
Are we still actively exploring what makes a human being tick or are happy with the definitions and understandings that we have come to thus far? It seems to me that what Freud and Jung and others of their time have been replaced by drugs that are meant to medicate us into being a certain way. We don’t pursue the understanding and knowledge of what we are with the same zeal as we do with things external to ourselves. Our understanding of our human nature and its challenges now lag centuries behind where we are technologically and even medically. We don’t understand these entities whom we are making smarter machines, better medicines, newer information for; no wonder these entities don’t become any happier or any more advanced by things that are meant to make them so.
To me there always seems to be one fatal error futuristic people make, ignoring the force of our inclination to be human. Humanity is an intangible thing, like instinct and emotions. We know it is there but you can’t bottle it and sell it at the shops, and because of that fact our materialistic society has been trained to ignore or downplay it existence and significance.
I remember as a young girl watching programs like Star Trek and Buck Rogers that were all about how life would be in the future. I don’t remember the people on Star Trek ever sitting down to a meal, sleeping under nice soft blankets, playing with children or animals, chatting with each other or doing anything that was just too human to be exciting. I remember warp speed, being beamed from here to there, the crew meeting strange creatures and I especially remember Mr. Spock’s ears. I remember Buck Rogers doing some amazing things, but he never went home to just relax and see his family or friends like my father did. I remember movies or episodes of these space/future programes showing how we would pop a pill and all our nutritional needs would be met for a long period of time. I remember the holo-deck where you could go to any place or time you like, but everyone always went into the holo-deck alone. No shared experiences.
Today we have technology that makes Star Trek and Buck Rogers look ridiculously crude. The machines that we use in our daily lives are mind-blowing and I think only the really dull of mind fail to marvel at it. For us the marvelous has become common-place, and behind it all the human condition persists. Technological advances has not affected us as much as we thought it would. We still eat and we love food as much as we ever did. No pill is going to replace the awesome feel, smell and taste of food and I never foresee a time when it will. We still laugh, act silly and do stupid things, no matter how much we discover that is supposed to make us smarter or how easily accessible that information is. We will never become cold and technical creatures who only look at the facts and act rationally and sensibly. We enjoy our stupidity too much. We even employ people to create laughable situations when none occur naturally. Some of these people are called comedians, others are called politicians. We like silliness. No matter how wonderful a holo-deck there is, nothing will beat the experience of actually being there. We all see from a different perspective, our eyes are drawn to different things, we each remember our experiences our own way and having someone we care about sharing those experiences make them all the more vivid.
We understand so little about ourselves and I wonder why we are so disinterested or maybe distracted from doing research and development of the human entity to the extent that we focus on other areas. Is it because humanity cannot be quantified and broken down to a specific formula like mathematics, science and electronics? Maybe there is a formula or a system to humanity that we can find and use for our betterment but we haven’t been looking for it. Maybe there isn’t a formula and it is just chaos and random action, but who better to understand the chaos and randomness of being human than another human being?
Are we always going to react the way we do to the same situations? Will we always disappoint ourselves and fall short of our intentions? Will we always assume the worst about ourselves and be surprised when one of us perform a noble and caring act? Will we always need laws and rules and restrictions to protect ourselves from each other? Will we keep clinging to the definitions of humanity and how to manage it when those definitions have proven ineffective over and over again?
In one of my favourite movies, The Matrix, the machines that have taken over the world have managed to figure out what it is that would keep humanity happy enough for them to get the required amount of electricity from each in their vast human farms. Too idyllic a life and the human mind revolts, too hard a life with too little reward and the human turns on a kind of kill-switch in their body. A balance between sorrow and joy, and you get optimum performance. The film may also just be another flight of fantasy, but it holds up the hope of getting the optimum human formula right someday. The machines in the movie did it through trial and error before getting the perfect balance. We have millions of years of trials and errors, it’s about time we get down to synthesizing the right formula from all our experiments.
The technology and true science we need to expand on is that of being human. The concept excites me and it’s one of the things that keeps me hopeful about humanity, that somewhere in-between our silliness, eating, fighting, sleeping, chatting, working, loving we will stumble upon a clue and that clue will take us forward in leaps and bounds.
Who better to put a formula to the chaotic mess we are than our very human selves?