Check your privilege

One thing that worries me about our attachment to knowing is that our knowing is outpaced by its impacts.

The systemic complexity of our world seems to be slipping beyond the wit of Homo sapiens to manage. This was evident in the financial crash of 2007, when it was revealed that those in charge of the banks had no understanding of the complex derivatives for which they were responsible. Google and Facebook have no real means to manage the uses of their networks by bad actors. In fact, their incentive to keep enabling malevolent uses of their networks pushes Google and Facebook themselves into the category of bad actors. And in Brexit, the UK Government is managing a process the consequences of which it seems unable to understand, still less contain. We shall see.

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The man who knows

We shouldn’t underestimate how counter-intuitive it is to pursue unknowing. Knowing is at the core of what we understand being human to be. We call ourselves the man who knows, for heaven’s sake: Homo sapiens.We chose this name in distinction to other species of human that once existed such as Homo neanderthalensis (the Neanderthals), Homo floresiensis (the Man of Flores, in Indonesia) and Homo ergaster (the somewhat dismissively named Working Man).

We define ourselves as the clever species. But the earlier humans were not without knowledge. What kind of knowing enabled Homo ergaster to organise socially and employ tools without the level of language and cognition that Homo sapiens was to acquire?

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