Here’s Why I’m Positive about the Future and Technology
Before I get into today’s Pursuit of Happiness, some good news on the Hands Off My Super petition.
It looks as though the message is finally getting through. We’ve seen a big uptake in sign-ups over the past week. There are now 4,310 on the petition.
Clearly mentioning it here has had an effect. But if you can keep doing your bit by letting people know about the campaign (emailing, posting the link to message boards, etc.) we should get to 10,000 signatures in no time.
As I’ve said before, I can’t guarantee we’ll actually achieve anything or that the government will listen (my bet is the government couldn’t care less). Even so, at the very least the number of signatures will show how much Aussies care about saving for their own retirement without government meddling.
By the way, don’t forget to join me on Google+. This is where I get to highlight some of the interesting stories that come across my desk each day. It’s free and it gives you an early insight into some of the latest hot topics. But you need to add me to your ‘circles’ in order to see my comments.
For instance, today I commented on the death of Hugo Chavez and pointed out to those mourning his death that under his leadership Venezuela had become the second most miserable country out of 92 countries measured!
Now on with today’s issue of Pursuit of Happiness…
To get to and from work each day, I avoid Brighton Road and hit the back streets of Elwood instead…as do many others.
There’s a lower speed limit and more speed bumps than Brighton Road, but it still feels like it’s a quicker journey.
Anyway, yesterday as I took the usual route at about 5.25pm driving along Tennyson Street there was some slower moving traffic in the way.
Tennyson Street has a 50km/h speed limit. And being a back street you see plenty of ‘Sunday drivers’ driving barely above single digits.
But the slow-moving traffic in my way yesterday wasn’t a ‘Sunday driver’…it was a skateboard, ridden by a young girl who couldn’t have been older than 15.
I was happy to be patient…for about 20 metres anyway. But still the skater-girl continued, down the middle of the road, with no indication she intended to make a right turn. That’s because she had no intention of turning right, she was going straight ahead.
Anyway, sorry if I was keen to get home a little faster than skateboard-speed, but I honked the horn, and she ignored me. So I honked again and this time she moved over…a bit. I wound down the window as I passed to remind her she was riding down the middle of a road.
The response? A middle finger. Nice.
Thousands of Years of Communication
Now, this isn’t a rant about the ‘flaming kids’ of today. But it did make me think when I read an article in the latest edition of New Scientist:
‘Watching a group of 5-year-olds chasing each other in a park it is easy to forget that child’s play is a serious business. Through play children figure out how to interact socially, practice problem-solving and learn to innovate, skills that will be indispensable to them as adults. But if experiences gained during play are so crucial for cognitive development, what would it mean if a species had a shorter childhood?’
The New Scientist relates this issue to Neanderthals — a close relative of early humans.
The article explains:
‘Even if we focus on just the period 50,000 to 30,000 years ago we find that early humans created bone flutes, the breathtaking cave paintings of the Chauvet cave in France, imaginative personal ornaments such as ivory beads carved to look like shells, and figurines incised with geometric patterns.’
‘The ability to reproduce a three-dimensional form on a two-dimensional surface, or to “see” a figure in ivory, requires a completely different way of imagining the world. Neanderthals created nothing like these artefacts and I believe this can be explained by the games they played, or more correctly did not play, as children.’
Clearly there’s a benefit to interaction from an early age.
Now, I don’t know anything about the skater-girl and her social life. Maybe she hits the skate park every night and chats with other skateboarders.
But what if her riding the skateboard down the middle of a road, apparently oblivious to the traffic around her (she wasn’t wearing earphones for an iPod) indicates the lack of social contact among youngsters?
After all, you can ride a skateboard down the road in a video game and there aren’t any penalties. What if that attitude filters from the make-believe world into the real world?
It’s the argument that most of the anti-gun lobby ignore in America. They equate guns with evil.
Yet they don’t question the impact that video games have on real life. And they don’t question the impact of other factors such as prescription drugs. Will governments ever start a ‘Just Say No’ campaign against prescription drugs?
I mean, why not? According to the Los Angeles Times, ‘Prescription overdoses kill more people than heroin and cocaine.’
Of course, the fact that a lot of sick people take prescription medicine skews the numbers, so it’s logical to think they’re more likely to die.
Even so, the government and big drug companies wouldn’t want it to become common knowledge that government-approved drugs kill more people than government-banned drugs.
You’re Lucky to be Part of This Amazing Time
Anyway, back to our point.
As the New Scientist article shows, it’s clear that humans have benefited for thousands of years due to interaction from an early age.
But progress for humans didn’t really take off until technology created new modes of transport — the exploitation of horses and the invention of the wheel are two early examples.
From there progress went sideways again until the development of ocean sailing, steam ships, steam trains and of course petrol-driven transport.
That’s why I love new technology.
These technologies were (and still are) exciting because they improved life and life experiences for your ancestors. They enhanced human interaction rather than replace it or lessen it.
Without them it’s probable you wouldn’t be here today. In fact, it’s probable our human ancestors would have suffered the same fate as Neanderthals.
Those advances in transport enabled people to have a wide range of contact with a more diverse number of people.
And it’s that increased contact that has resulted in so much progress through the exchange of ideas.
Like the technological advance of transport, each of these has the potential to improve interaction among people.
This is why despite the doom and gloom about economies and governments and debt, I’m actually positive about the future.
The human race has survived for thousands of years because of our ability to communicate, cooperate and exchange ideas…
And the thing that has led the way and will continue to lead the way is new technology. It’s an exciting time in the history of the world, and you’re lucky enough to be a part of it.
From the Port Phillip Publishing Library
Special Report: Just Discovered: The Pangaea Bond
Daily Reckoning: What the Shale Gas Revolution Could do to LNG Prices
Money Morning: Taking China’s Economic Pulse from Hong Kong
Pursuit of Happiness: Digits Won’t Destroy Music After All