Humanity has evolved through few key eras, over the last 10+ billions of years.
Evolution of life form from molecules to homo-sapiens over the last few billion years since the birth of planet Earth
Hunter-gatherers age that lasted millions of years and evolved into tribes, progressing at a glacially slow pace.
The agricultural era developed our ability to grow and multiply food, imitating how life grows at atomic level. This lead to communities growing into bigger communities (compared to several smaller tribes of 100s of people in the hunters era) and eventually forming countries. Governance models through kingdoms evolved in this era.
An industrial era that was lead to even faster growth and evolution in the last few centuries, and possibly witnessed the biggest human wars in the form of World War 1 and 2. Capitalism and Globalization thrived in this period.
Information Technology era that scaled since the 1990s, especially with the growth of Software and Internet
In the 21st century, we live in a world, which is the most peaceful in the history of time. Since World War 2, we have not had a major global war; the quality of our lives has improved dramatically, we are living much longer, our lives have become more convenient, and so on. In spite of media portraying negative news mostly, we do live in the best period in human history. As a great historian, Yuval Noah Harari puts it; we are witnessing more citizens die of overeating than under eating & more people committing suicide than they being killed by someone else (as in a war or act of crime). It’s never as good as you want it to be, never as bad as it seems.
Global problems, not solvable locally
But we are not arguing that we are living in a perfect world by any means. We still have several challenges that need to be solved,
Poverty across sections of the society
Climate change is leading to several natural calamities across the world
Lack of basic resources like food and water for all people
Geo-political challenges threatening the world order.
All the above challenges cannot be solved as the world looks to de-globalize and look inwards into protecting its own citizens and communities. Developed nations like the US arguing for anti-immigration, Brexit potentially leading to EU breakup, etc.
The problems like Climate change will not be solved unless the whole world together. Imagine if a few developed nations agree to control pollution and move to sustainable industries, the other nations not following the same standards can still hard the planet and impact all geographies and not just their own country. As an example, if China continues to pollute, the US may still keep facing hurricanes every year due to climate change which is not caused by them anymore.
Clue for a solution – a man–machine merger concept, inspired by Bitcoin alike solution.
So what is the solution? An idea could be the merging of humans and technology. For inspiration, let’s look at Bitcoin as a classic example. Bitcoin put together a global, secure, robust, digital, borderless, standard currency mechanism, which works seamlessly around the world. Smart hackers proposed and coded this idea that spread within 6 years to a brilliant alternate financial system, which is decentralized, not regulated by any institution, not backed by any physical asset as gold, still worked perfectly by self-regulation introduced by blockchain’s mining concepts, and has arguable worked almost perfectly. It works well due to machines’ endless mining power and consensus algorithms, merging with humans’ willingness to accept and drive such systems. Otherwise, if we had tried to bring the world together for a common digital currency, it would have taken decades to bring all the 200+ nations together.
See Euro for example, took decades to put together and still seems hard to sustain and manage. (I understand that it’s just an example, and not a completely fair apple to apple comparison)
Could such a man-machine system help replace the current most accepted economic system of Capitalism? We are divided by countries, religions, political beliefs; which are just stories used by humans to manage others.
Whatever the man machine collaboration maybe called; machines seemingly do bring more trust and objectivity more into any system, like Blockchain did in Bitcoin. The decisions made by humans around the world, with wider consensus achieved by machines, shall be more objective than what humans and human institutions may be able to deliver. Of course, in order for any such system to be accepted, we do need the consensus by the varied humans and human organisations, on the mechanism (that can be debated), in due course.
For example, if we try to solve the problem of Poverty. Humans driven Capitalism by itself has not been able to solve it so far; has arguably widened the rich-poor divide since World War 2. Maybe humans and machines around the world can propose an outcome that is acceptable by all rich and poor, and re-allocates the wealth appropriately, by using something called as Universal Basic Income. This shall become necessary in due course anyways, especially as machines do more repetitive jobs that humans did, leading to mass unemployment. The crux of a global man machine consensus system of course relies on major part of humans participating and accepting a decision making process, and majority among them being able to decide, with the help of the machines, that what is the best outcome and implementing it efficiently with the machines.
Humans are in any case merging with machines, whether we like it or not. (This leads to it’s own challenges, that we shall discuss in another blog). Today we are augmented with external technologies like mobiles, cloud, analytics etc. Soon enough, they may become part of our bodies, making us augmented humans. The hope is that “super-humans” shall drive trust through machines.
We already trust technology driven solutions better; for example, riding a stranger’s car through Uber and sleeping at a stranger’s house through Airbnb. If we were to believe the car drivers directly, or the hotels directly, we shall be exposed to lot of biased marketing and will not be able to make the best decision. But Ubers ratings system driven by crowd-sourced and machines curated efforts, seem more believable as is.
The idea to several outstanding human challenges, is always having a global technology layer that brings humans together in a consensual way, and we hope that majority of humans, aided with machines, shall lead to most objective decisions forming the best course of our future.