5.0 The metamorphosis
The impact of code has been called as significant as the Gutenberg press, as momentous to human society as writing. These had a massive and direct effect on human life, altering the workings of society and civilisation immeasurably. With that kind of billing, it’s difficult to see how the digital wave we’re riding now won’t trigger a state of metamorphosis for the human.
This metamorphosis is simultaneously fragmented and concentrated, obvious and imperceptible, a state of unknowing and uncertainty and also one we can programme.
Einstein wrote that solving problems cannot be done by the same thinking that created them. People are afraid of the robots but aren’t sure what to do. Well, we need a reset, and radical new thinking is required to manage the unparalleled technological change that lies ahead.
Accepting we are in a state of metamorphosis is part of that wake-up call. Lives today are conditioned by a 250-year-old industrial-age thinking that won’t work for the future.
In this metamorphosis, there is no single truth. Instead, there is a persistent and uncomfortable duality in play that the fundamental nature of code requires us to co-exist with. It revolves around paradoxical ideas. It’s a shift that evokes both danger and opportunity. It delivers unparalleled abundance on one hand and brings fear and scarcity on the other.
Globally today, enlightenment and terror sit side by side. The virtual is pitted against the real, the unthinkable with the logical. Realities and illusions surround us, points of existence are augmented and dispersed, even as the world is becoming ever more unified.
Digital life as we know it appears and disappears fleetingly, lost in never-ending streams of momentary tweets. But we are citizens, not mere physical masses of data for harvesting. So the value of thinking about the emergent code, the human side of code, is in recognising this point of existential crisis and channelling it for our betterment.
The alternative option is a new dark age, cultural and economic deterioration as a default while the industrialised model runs out of steam, in the way the end of the Roman Empire created a vacuum lasting centuries after its collapse.
How do we cope with this metamorphosis? What we value and yearn to build at the deepest level now needs to be part of the prototyping of being digitally human.
Distributed networks are re-drawing our day to day landscapes and loose ties are becoming more important, challenging the strength of traditional and orthodox conventions of relationship.
Groundswells and movements are pulsepoints helping humanity realise its collective potency, and the human urge to discover more of itself through connection is something to protect for the common good.
Accurate open data is now a valuable and vital part of digital connectivity. As we face the singularity there is also diversity, robotics and unique and individual urls, to consider in the way we will co-exist with code.
The understanding of how digital humanity functions needs to be steered away from industrialised privatisation and paywalls so that spontaneous and random information trails remain as significant and as important a part of our appreciation and understanding of human patterns as any that are pre-prescribed to us.
In the metamorphosis, when we are embedded and bound up with technology, we will realise we are not one thing, or another, we are all things, simultaneously hyperconnected and disconnected, and that we will survive as humans by forming deeper connection to our inner selves at the same time as we wire up to the digital grid all around us.
The way we lead ourselves into the age of digital civilization I think depends on understanding this shift, on entering this state of metamorphosis consciously, so that we can engage in creating social capital value at a compound level collectively, making it possible through technology to be self-determined, as the next generation of humans we want to be.