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The Future of Humanity - Part 1: Safety

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Humanity. Over time we’ve changed so radically that our ancestors would barely be able to recognize us as the same species. We’ve gone from living in small groups with minimal living needs to living in mega-cities with lives obsessed with the concept of “quality of life.” The question then is have we become a better society or are we no better than when we started? I believe we’re on the right path and the world is significantly better than many would lead you to believe.

Safety: We live in the most peaceful era in history

Experimental Cognitive Psychologist Steven Pinker wrote a book called The Better Angels of our Nature in which he explores how humanity has over time become more and more peaceful through the advent of laws, government, and structure. The debate about the role of government rages on, but one thing that generally most agree on is that one of those roles is to protect its citizens. As a result in order to accomplish this goal, rules and laws are created and enforced. We as a society tend to accept most of these regulations as we understand their purpose. This leads to a direct correlation to the decline of violence.

So why is it that everyone believes otherwise? The simple answer is the media. We as humans have developed a portion of the brain known as the amygdala. The amygdala is in charge of many things, but one such thing is the awareness of danger. Obviously this ability would prove useful in old times where danger was constantly at everyone’s doorstep. We can’t just unevolve it now that the danger is generally lower so it still continues to work as intended. The media by constantly and frequently pushing negative information puts our amygdalas in a constantly under pressure state. That is why we believe the world is not safe. Sure, there are thousands if not millions of isolated incidents across the world, but they are as I said, isolated. Things happen. Just not nearly as much as they used to. Then there’s the question of terrorists and groups that intentionally seek violence. In terms of scale, they also are nothing compared to the past. Centuries ago it was commonplace for a simple civil disagreement to end up in a violent duel. Today, we are taught to hold back and if things get really out of hand, call the authorities.

We’ve also largely changed or replaced our forms of entertainment. While in centuries and millenia past the common mass forms of entertainment involved brutal violence from Gladiator Battles which even came to include lions and tigers, Jousting of Knights which often resulted in certain death, Viking tests of strength, sacrificial ceremonies, and so much more, today we have TV shows, movies, video games, sports, and controlled martial arts. Everything has been toned down or completely been rid of literal physical violence.

But what about our future? If this trend continues, we are likely to see a continued decline in violence and an increase in tolerance. Racial equality, gender equality, and tons more rights movements exist to increase tolerance across the masses. It’s almost become taboo to defend against a rights movement. The result will be that eventually everyone will have the same rights, which is the point. Does this mean racism will end? Absolutely not, but it will be a lot harder to discriminate in the workplace and society in general.

In practical situations we see that companies are constantly being kept in line for safety concerns. Regulatory bodies like the FDA, FEMA, UN, FCC, and hundreds more across the globe make sure that guidelines and requirements exist to ensure the safety of consumers. Transportation keeps getting safer and safer even as we go further into new technologies (i.e. Tesla Model S). Drugs undergo testing and rigorous processes to ensure safety (though this needs tons of improvement still). Prosthetic technologies are improving through many methods be it newer ways to prevent rejection of deep prosthetics, or better functionality through new materials and designs. Almost nothing happens today without the concept of safety being addressed. There’s always something in the way making sure it’s been covered.

I believe technology has brought us here. Mass communication. It allows us to essentially telepathically communicate with each other via technology across massive landscapes in real time. This spreads ideas, which in turn develop into action and change. We are safe. And we’re only getting safer. Take a deep breath. We’re OK.