I recently found myself in a conversation with a Chicago taxi driver – we veered onto computers and questions and concerns around privacy and on to other technology-fueled social and ethical issues – an excellent ride (almost as good as a NYC taxi ;). At the end of our short ride, we came to a surprising conclusion; that there was no way for humanity to keep pace with the flood of advances flowing from computer science, biology, physics, etc. We were not talking about the actual underlying technical complexities – only the social, ethical and moral consequences, obligations and risks stemming from all of the above.
The gap between our visionaries and the rest of us is already far greater than existed in 10th Century and it’s only getting wider. Now, the other distinguishing mark of the original Dark Ages was the drought of written records/history – very little is known about this “dark time” because of the lack of primary documentation. …but, as Charles Goldfarb outlined in a keynote (probably over 20 years ago), the rise of the digital record means that photos, videos, and every other form of record can be manipulated beyond detection – our modern age is “post history” – if pre-history is defined as before there were written records – our current ability to rewrite the recent past absolutely and without detection means we are now in a “post-history” phase.
As we welcome in 2013 – we are taking one more step deeper into a Dark Age like nothing we have ever experienced before and there is no telling if/when/how we will dig our way out (at least until we achieve “technical singularity"). So - HAPPY NEW YEAR!