I guess I was in a delusion that if I worked hard and followed the rules, success would be mine. That the very concept of success keeps changing is something which is realized almost always in retrospect. Ah, how beautiful life would be if everything was fair (which in itself is a contorted and potent incarnation of idealism in itself). Your belief system takes a hit you when you are screwed real bad somewhere down the line. Trusting the enemy to not inflict any harm has not been a very good strategy particularly, despite so many peace-loving followers of Buddha, Jesus or Allah. When one becomes two and then it becomes a group, there has to be someone who has the last say on a conflict. For the geeks: the problem is akin to optimization of the performance levels of people which in turn will ensure increased collective performance. The slave machine should be intelligent enough to play its part in determining what is best for itself, while put under certain constraints by the master to enforce the sustenance and progress of the network. The basic conundrum with humans is that it is difficult to find a master who can put his role of true leadership on a higher precedence than his selfish instincts. We should define it as the most important REVERSE artificial intelligence problem, shan’t we?
For those free souls who don’t give a damn about who is in power, being “truly free” has sadly turned out to be a myth every time. Freedom and chaos are distortions of the same image, and a state is largely defined by the rights that it is able to confer upon its citizens. I would hardly concentrate on building things and making a dent in the world if there was a constant threat or danger to me and my family. Rape and slaughter was far more common in the pre-modern society. Every animal hunt could potentially be your last. The adrenaline rush in your body was one of your basic defense mechanisms for survival. The size of the tribe was determined by the number of women (their ability to give birth), while men had to arrange for the food and protect the group as a whole (Sexism?!) Somewhere along the way we decided to coalesce as a complex entity and settle instead of being hunter/gatherers or nomads forever; first by farming and then engaging in specialised professions. I am able to type this on a computer manufactured in Taiwan, the book I am currently reading is written by an American professor, and the grains I consume is probably produced by a hard-working and often neglected farmer residing in the heart of India. Me growing my food, stitching my own clothes and minding my business while constantly living in a threat of being killed does not come across as a very “free” way of living. As a side effect, as the sophistication and complexities of societies increase, the society as a whole becomes much more powerful and can dictate its way of life on others. Civilizations come and go (Mayan, Sumerian, Greek, Roman, Polynesian, Harappan). And somehow every civilization feels invincible at its peak, till something comes along which turns the power equation on its head (environment, hostile neighbors et cetera) and nothing is the same as before. Societies collapse. Memories fade. History gets written by those on the winning side. A new normalcy is established. And the cycle continues. The dream of coming together to make sure mutual progress is overcome by individual greed. It has become an irresolvable classic last-mile problem.
What will be the potential of the society that enables each one in the system to freely express? What will be the limits of the society that has a flexible framework for people, a framework which is constantly breathing with the changing times and which never descends into the abyss of rigidity? How will a society based on the concept of mutual tolerance, on the assurance of the basic needs to every person look like? Can the most feeble man be empowered enough to speak up without any fear of reproach or repercussions for trying to disturb the status quo? Is the idea of free communication and debates still too advanced for a race that prides itself on being the smartest in the food chain? Can’t a rational and logic based approach be used for running a state, or is this a far-stretch for democracies that are supposedly hinged on collective wisdom of its peoples as a group? When do people of a country decide that the status quo is not something infallible if something is broken wide? What will be the face of the society in which ideas for a new age multiply while travelling through the Internet, which serves as the decentralized bastion of empowerment through information? How much time before we can finally imagine that the idea of the earth as a family is a goal worth pursuing?
Posted by: Rohit Gupta