Adapting to changing conditions… or conversely, adapting our environment to our needs…
It’s really all that separates us from the beasts (or maybe I should say separates YOU guys from the beasts… I’m still a beast with three simple needs that all start with F).
Think about the amount of adaptation that has been required for a human being who has lived over the last 100 years. Commercial flight, space flight, gene mapping, gene sequencing, computers, the internet, heavy industry, manufacturing, telecommunications — all of these technological advances have become such a part of our day-to-day lives, that without them we would probably be lost. Civilization might even crumble. Thats the extent to which these advances have been adapted by and integrated into our modern society, primarily in the West, but now more and more in the rest of the world as well.
And its in the rest of the world that the rate of adaptation is truly amazing… a testament to the fact that biologically, we are one species with a similar ability to adapt to change. People in Bangladesh, who 20 years ago may not even have talked on a phone in their whole lives, now walk around with a mobile phone clipped to their belt (usually a Nokia). The mobile phone itself, as a device, has really become ubiquitous to humanity to an extent greater than any other technological device that has been invented in the past century. One could say that it’s a measure of the great transition of the time in which we live, from the industrial age to the information age.
Even for me, in the US, the cell phone an adaptation that I barely took up ten years ag0, maybe eleven. Now you can find them in the hands of a farmer in the remotest village in China (or Bangladesh for that matter), and I’m sure not many people are left on Earth who don’t know what the capabilities of the device are. The rapid global expansion of telecommunications in the last 10 years alone is phenomenal, and a breath of positive foresight by large telecommunications companies that for once benefitted both their relentless need for profit as well as the lives of the citizens of the countries they expanded into.
This global technological convergence is a result of many factors which I’m not going to go into detail about, such as rapid communication, easier transportation, and better education. But it is a fact that societies which 20 years ago were 100 years behind the west, today are perhaps only 20 years behind (although granted, the issue of poverty remains unsolved for the most part). And the rate keeps quickening, as countries like China start to research and develop their own technologies, and as countries like Japan outsource their R&D to Bangladesh. A friend of mine here was telling me about a Japanese company that is outsourcing the development of 3D technology using standard LCD screens to a local partner in Bangladesh. According to him, the technology is already ready for the market.
So what are we going to see in the future? A technologically equal society with large pockets of poverty? The dictionary definition of convergence is the coming together of two or more things. In an IT or technology setting, the meaning takes on a different connotation — the coming together of two separate technologies into one technology. Like for example the computer and the phone = iPhone. Or, in the future, computer and TV = yet unnamed thingy that does both.
I randomly took this video the other day and realized that its a perfect example of technology convergence in Bangladesh. Exhibit A) Shitty public transportation that runs on environmentally-friendly Compressed Natural Gas. Exhibit B) Dude pulls out his Nokia as soon as he gets off said shitty public trans-po.
But in a broader societal context, we can take convergence to mean the coming together of two societies at different technological development timeframes into a society where all technology is available to everyone (at a price, of course). So is that really what we’re heading to? A society where medical immortality is available to those who can pay for it? But where half of humanity still doesn’t get enough nourishment to meet their minimum requirements and live in squalor? I’m not judging — just throwing it out there as a possible scenario for humanity’s future — barring self destruction of the species, of course, which is probably more of an inevitability.
Convergence… it levels the playing field… if you got the cash.