Saturday, April 30, 2011

Situation awareness

Man appreciated and feared all the power hidden within nature for centuries. Didn’t understand much of it, but what they did understand was a humble acceptance of the world, which wasn’t created by human hand, which needed to be guarded and taken care of. The imagery and its symbolism through out art history talks about this fearfulness, awe and hope. This was the state of natural awareness.
The discovery and stimulation of science and the birth of technology of the 18th and 19th century has transferred us towards the 20th century modern, industrial and post- industrial society, which gradually moved away from nature and granted us the technical awareness. Meanwhile, man exhausted nearly all the natural resources by the end of the 20th century.
With the arrival of the second millenium, the exponentially accelerating technology brought us the digital age, the last stop before reaching the Post-human era and singularity. This jump from analog to digital awareness means that there is no distinguished line between nature and technology anymore since they are both recognized as equal methods to create organic and non-organic matter. The characteristic of this period is that nearly every natural phenomenon can be explained by scientific models and can be replaced by a technical device.

Computers are becoming organic systems, which are no longer simply programmed, but are also self - learning. Microchips are using neuro networks to transmit information and, - to execute commands. The augmentation of human body, which started with adding simple, external hearing aids, eyeglasses and prosthetics to replace missing body parts, has continued with the experiments of implanting neuroprosthetics and with the usage of nanotechnology. The highly complex merger between technology and organic life forms has triggered a new step in human evolution.
We are becoming integrated with technology, beyond the medical needs to restore a healthy state, into enhancing our general capacity.
The first humanoid automata have been created by Al-Jazari in 1206.
Nearly 800 years later, since the early1960’s, industrial robots have been part of our life. But, the sci-fi concept of humanoid robots with artificial intelligence capable of learning, making decisions on their own, only appeared just now at the beginning of the 21st century. These robots resemble humans in a very precise manner.
In a way the futuristic concepts of the past are becoming a reality.
Technology is granting us - with the dream or nightmare depending on the individual’s standpoint – God- like powers. Man is becoming able to create life from dead, non-organic matter.

Photography’s popularity, our addiction to family snapshots and our desire to be The Photographer created a market for mass-produced consumer cameras. The manufacturers picked up on the popularity and the democratic nature of the medium because it meant profitable investment. And with the aid of colorful commercial photography they sold us the dream. The plan worked and the consumers wanted more, so the camera manufacturers invested even more in the technology, which has stimulated research and development in media technology. At the break of the new millennium it became clear that digitalism is the way of the future, so we entered the next level, the age of digital photography, which ironically rendered analog photography obsolete.

The transition from analoge to digital image corresponds to the changes in our consciousness. It shows similarity to the changes that are happening right now as we are stepping over from an analoge awareness to a digital orientated mindset. To the analoge awareness the world really existed, for the digital consciousness the world means overflowing information provided by search engines and interconnected social- network societies. It means non material, online cyber-realities, which are in every bit mirror copies of our physical reality. Lovers now sit at seasides in a binary world to watch a computer generated sunset while believers can visit the 3D model of their church in Second Life to confes the sins they commited in the material world to a computer program, to an avatar of a priest.

Gradually we reached the extreme opposite of a state of natural awarenes.
Technology is here because through evolution we learned to use our hands, which gave us freedom to manipulate matter. Our techno journey began as the early humans started creating tools based on their needs, but by the 21st century this process has been reversed. Now we create new tools for which we are generating needs.
We can find purpose for them, we can learn to use them, but these new tools are no longer based on our needs and most of the users have no idea how their new digital devices work or how they were produced.
In the early 21st century the financial interest, the greed of a junkie is the drive behind developing the new tools. The multi billion dollar industries investing in research and development of new technologies are feeding on man’s desire for long, pleasurable life and on man’s vanity.
The question isn’t anymore whether technology is good or not, but how can we upgrade our awarenes to match up with technology and to maintain a positive status quo.
The situation has resemblence to driving on a raceway. We can’t stop anymore, because if we try to do that the system will become completely unsustainable. Human population has reached a magnitude by now, that has led to the point that our civilization could no longer be sustained without technology.