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As I get older, change becomes both a nightmare and a necessity

Indeed, we only change once it gets too uncomfortable to stay the same. 

A philosopher once said: 

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy on not fighting the old, but on building the future.” 

I have written some pieces on change for The AIMN this year. More particularly, societal change.

Now, my message requires reinforcing. With the oncoming power of artificial intelligence, it will be vital that the public votes for the party with the best credentials to manage the enormous changes that will take place in the next 20 years. A burden of immense importance.

As a father and grandfather, I was fond of telling the children that people of my generation have experienced more change than any other. They would laugh when I told them of our experiences without a washing machine, refrigerator or television.

When they talked about change, I would tell them that we dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent, those things that make us feel secure. But change is part of the very fabric of our existence.

When they were older, and we talked about change more seriously, I told them that substantial and worthwhile change often comes with short-term controversy, but the pain is worth it for long-term prosperity. 

Well, that’s what I have always believed.

Frankly, accepting and embracing change is one key aspect of what we define as wisdom.

People of my vintage have found change difficult to accept because they are so hooked on how they grew up. Indeed, people often become so trapped in the longevity of sameness that they never see other (better) ways of doing things.

I am also inclined to the view that change sometimes disregards opinion and becomes a phenomenon of its own making, with Its own inevitability. The election of the Labor Party has brought about significant change in this area, but it is also an example of how nothing stands in the way of change, even without a consensus.

Often, change comes about because we have become an inactive society rather than a proactive one. Still, this also applies to our personal lives. We fight against change because it doesn’t reward us personally, or we accept it because it does. Often, we reject it out of laziness.

Sorry, I have digressed. An example of what I am talking about is music. I don’t mean as in style or genre (which has undergone enormous change) but rather in its delivery.

As a small child, I remember hearing recorded music with replaceable needles for the first time on a wind-up gramophone. Sometime later, 78 rpm records improved, and the things on which we played then were grandiose pieces of furniture.

Then came 45rpm vinyl records, followed by 33 1/3 rpm LP and EP recordings with multiple tracks and stereophonic sound. I still have the first LP I ever purchased.

The next step forward was making music transportable, which came with cassettes and tape recorders. They, in turn, were replaced with CDs, which are now almost obsolete with the advent of tablets, iPods and mobile phones. 

What will replace them is anyone’s guess, but the certainty is that something will.

I have used this analogy to demonstrate that change is determined by many factors: health, consumer demand, science, profit, and many others. And it is inevitable.

Change, as much as we resist it, is innate in us. It’s part of our DNA whether we like it or not.

Change is enabling us to live healthier and longer lives. So why do conservatives fight against it?

And, of course, we should not suppose that change over the next 100 years will abate. It will pick up speed and present the world with staggering life-changing advancements in many areas.

What will replace the Internet and other technology? What about physics, engineering, communications, medicine, economics.? The list is endless.

The world has much to look forward to, and today’s ideas must be honed with “critical reason, factual evidence and scientific methods of inquiry” to take advantage of tomorrow’s society.

Science has made the most stunning achievements in my lifetime, and they are embraced, recognised and enjoyed by all sections of society. The Internet has opened up the dissemination of information, bringing about a sharing of knowledge never before available.

As learning and knowledge advance, it will further bring into question the need for faith-based religion, which is still the reason for much of the world’s woes. The decline in religious belief in the more technologically advanced nations is demonstrable. It does, however, thrive in less-educated countries.

And for conservatives, who are against change, or at least only support incremental change, the problem of rampant technological change must surely confuse them.

An essential factor in all this is our ability to ethically live with the rapid changes that will take place. Will we use the gifts of new discoveries to bring about equality and make a better world, or will new artificial intelligence technologies simply advance greed, capitalism and corporatisation? Will it create more jobs, less conflict, less nationalism and more internationalism? 

Here are 10 ways society will change by 2050.

Unfortunately, one of the significant obstacles to public acceptance will be our cognitive ability to intellectually understand the rationale for our technological ingenuity, which has yet to match its progress.

Our moral landscape still occupies the darkness of war and revenge, and all our thinking on intellectual enlightenment and ethical fairness has yet to advance any understanding of our purpose in being or the reason for our existence.

New discoveries in neuroscience and psychology will bring a greater understanding of what makes us tick. Free will, or at least the study of it, is an essential foundation of rational thinking and the objective application of thoughts to actions, but it needs to be better understood. AI might deliver new possibilities.

But how many seriously take up the study of free will and the constraints pre-determined facts impose on it (determinism)? We may even start questioning if free will does indeed exist. Or, if it does, is it an “inherently flawed and incoherent concept“?

I was first introduced to the Internet when I was doing some marketing for a friend, a scientist, who worked for the CSIRO. He asked me to put his email address on some marketing material I produced for him.

A short time later, I was designing and producing a fashion catalogue for a client who wanted a website to support it. I had no idea what a website was, but I quickly said I could do it. I sought expertise in the area, and over time, it transformed my business, which became firmly entrenched in Internet technology.

Although, at the time, it was so slow, I wondered how it would ever get off the ground. However, my small but progressive company was a leader in email marketing for a period.

Only when I retired did I discover the Internet as a medium for social discourse, and I have embraced it since. I have witnessed the demise of newspapers and their spurious attempts to remain relevant.

I have seen the rise of sites like The AIMN that have given people such as myself a voice. An avenue to opine about all manner of things. An opportunity to publish work that otherwise would not be read. Stories, poetry and thoughts that people might feel worthy of consideration.

Change is not always perfect, and in this respect, social networks like X, Facebook and blogs have also given a voice to the outrageous, the nutters, the bigots and the prejudiced. I have had some terrible experiences with these mediums.

So much so that I often write for The AIMN asking why the right was so feral, in which I have castigated the extreme attitudes of those so far to the right that they are in danger of falling off.

I have accumulated many friends on Facebook. Every Friday, I post under the banner “Words that make you think”, and I generally receive a good response. I follow up with other thoughts, and a conversation ensues. I am enriched by the experience.

For me, Facebook and blogs are communication tools that enable the exchange of ideas and thoughts. It makes you dive into humanity, hear things you do not want to hear and defend what you have to say. 

It is for those with opinions or those without the courage to share them. And fence-sitters, of course. It attracts the reasoned, the unreasoned, the civil, and the uncivil. The biased and the unbiased. It is for people with ideas and, sadly, those without any. It whispers or shouts dissent. But mostly, it’s a society of our own creation.

For me, the changes brought about by the advancement of science and technology have been astonishing.

As a political progressive, I crave change that is worthy and advantageous for the betterment of society and our world.

Our lives should always be subject to constant reflection. Otherwise, the way forward is locked into the constraints of today’s thoughts.

My Thought for the Day

You cannot change what happens. Particularly when you have no control over it. What you do have control over is the way in which you respond.

 

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7 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    Ahhhh change …… John Lord your computing experience was more beneficial than my own.

    About 50 years ago I was a competent programmer writing spreadsheets before EXCEL and building data handling systems. Then somebody changed the computer languages and hardware …..

    About 45 years ago I sought to write a school management system to minimise the huge amount of time wasted on school administrivia. I was told by the DoE desk jockeys that they ”did not think that computers would have very much impact on education”.

    Then to prove their (ill-founded egotistical) opinion they held a three day workshop led an old lag set to retire in 63, 62, 61 days who had chosen for NSW DoE use the WANG alphabetic keyboard.

    The programme was supposed to give teachers experience with ”this new technology”. Certainly it was the largest group of computers that I saw in an educational setting for decades. Naturally this became a talkfest rather than programming experience.

    Roll on the Computing course into schools where teachers were given ONE Apple II computer to teach up to 30 kids computer language skills. The ”Computer Co-Ordinator was given a ”very generous” two period allowance for those duties. The course in BASIC 1 was written programming. Ten years later after numerous language upgrades, kids doing Computing were being disadvantaged by HSC examiners marking all papers against BASIC 1 rather than the upgraded language!! (Well, progress is a little slower in the NSW DoE Head Office).

    Yet during the previous decade, down the road at the local private boarding school we had been using computers to statistical record & analyse student scores exactly the same way as the HSC was handled!! And this was before much over-funding!!

    You can make the change by being the change. Politics is a participation sport.

  2. Fred

    Im in your age bracket,for me the biggest change i have noticed,is how freedom of speech has been eroded,that’s one change i will never accept

  3. wam

    plus ça change seems no longer applicable because many changes are foist upon us by law, by companies and by internet controllers. We read, listen, watch and use new ideas. When we adopt science developments or opinions of others, we change and you are spot on, lord, haven’t we changed over the last 9 decades or are we still the same(plus ça change is still with us)?
    I have long tilted at the windmill of political ‘review’ instead of ‘evaluate’. Yesterday I had my annual health assessment. It was in two parts: practical where the nurse took measurements of height, weight, balance, blood sugar, blood pressure and asked questions to test cognative health. These results and a conclusion from her experienced eye were conveyed to the doctor who added the medical evidence from the blood test results showing kidney, liver, platelets etc. This time the experienced nurse had retired and the new, university trained nurse, said it is only a review so you only see the doctor now. I am lucky to have a very observant doctor but there is no longer half of the job of assessing my health changes.
    ps Fred,
    There are many rabbottians upset at their loss of rights to free speech but no aspect of my freedom of speech has been eroded.
    Have you any hints on what you have lost???

  4. John Lord

    With regards to free speech I cannot say i am inhibited with the use of it and I am fascinated to know what it is that those who want 18c changed, want to express.

  5. Terence Mills

    The Luddites, a band of English workers who destroyed machinery, especially in cotton and woollen mills, that they believed was threatening their jobs (1811–16), are generally these days looked upon as resisting progress and the broader view is that the mechanisation of the cotton mills meant that the cost of clothing was reduced and that benefitted the majority.

    But, the Luddites still lost their jobs

  6. Steve Davis

    Terence, the Luddites were heroes, fighting for their families who were about to be discarded by society and left to starve.

    Most folk today do not understand that it was protesters like the Luddites and those followed who gave us a civilised society.

  7. Clakka

    As humanity shags its way to 9 billion, perspective can make one go hmmmm.

    At year world population estimated:

    0000 232 million Would they have thought about 2100 or even 1950 for that matter?
    1950 2.50 billion Hope springs eternal
    2100 10.40 billion

    Quite an exponential growth beyond the 78 generations of contagion, wars and blood-letting.

    However, despite science and technology, it is estimated to peak at around 2085, and then go into decline.

    The demographic paradigm runs thus:
    Stage 1 – high mortality and high birth rates
    Stage 2 – mortality falls, but birth rates are still high
    Stage 3 – mortality is low and birth rates begin to fall Stage 4 – mortality and birth rates are low (the ‘first world’ is currently approaching the latter quartile of this stage) Stage 5 – the future of population growth (or decline) will be determined by what is happening to fertility rates.

    By 2100 about 12% will be European & North American, 40% will be African, and 8 in 10 people will live in Africa and Asia.

    By then the nuances of culture, mythologies, the biases, the anxieties and coping mechanisms will have undoubtedly shifted.

    Kinda puts drugs and money, the Moon, Mars, Russia / Ukraine, Israel / Palestine, COP(out)28, pollution, toxification, desertification, automated agriculture, extinction, joblessness and bling into some form of perspective.

    Whether it’s a matter of such factors accelerating loss of fertility, or whether our scientists and engineers can go on to fashion us genetically AI / in-vitro with built-in armory and thick skins against such assaults and perdition will undoubtedly be left to a wrangling between journalists (or should I say amenuensises), town criers, catastrophists, RWNJ’s, god-botherers, politicians and advertising agencies.

    Keep me posted, as I’ll just be dabbling in the yarts, feeding the dog, and watching the footy and cricket whilst it lasts.

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