Tim O'Reilly on The Endarkment
Tim O’Reilly is a very smart guy, and even though he is a dyed-in-the-wool technophile, he hasn’t let that blind him:
Tim O’Reilly, The Rise Of Anti-Intellectualism And The End Of Progress
For so many in the techno-elite, even those who don’t entirely subscribe to the unlimited optimism of the Singularity, the notion of perpetual progress and economic growth is somehow taken for granted. As a former classicist turned technologist, I’ve always lived with the shadow of the fall of Rome, the failure of its intellectual culture, and the stasis that gripped the Western world for the better part of a thousand years. What I fear most is that we will lack the will and the foresight to face the world’s problems squarely, but will instead retreat from them into superstition and ignorance.
Yes, we may find technological solutions that propel us into a new golden age of robots, collective intelligence, and an economy built around “the creative class.” But it’s at least as probable that as we fail to find those solutions quickly enough, the world falls into apathy, disbelief in science and progress, and after a melancholy decline, a new dark age.
Civilizations do fail. We have never yet seen one that hasn’t. The difference is that the torch of progress has in the past always passed to another region of the world. But we’ve now, for the first time, got a single global civilization. If it fails, we all fail together.
Yes, we’ve become entangled, and our fate will be shared. To avoid the endarkment will require a great deal of hard work, and the hardest part might be the necessary first step: realizing that we are at a pivotal moment, and that just about everything must change.