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The internet and atomic energy have certain things in common. They are man-made discoveries which can be used
for good or ...
novel. The digitised financial machine doesnot work for us; we work for the machine and I do not believe that our
politica...
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What's the Big Idea - Societal Fission or Fusion

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What’s The Big Idea? Societal Fission or Fusion?
Treating modern day society like a nuclear reactor

The internet and atomic energy have certain things in common. They are man-made discoveries which can be used for good or evil and now that they have been invented there is no going back – we cannot un-invent either of them. The difference between nuclear energy and the internet is that our global society seeks to prevent a proliferation of nuclear energy to stop it falling into the wrong hands whereas we have made the power of the internet accessible to virtually everyone on the planet regardless of their potential usage for good or evil.

My question is whether the internet has triggered the equivalent of a societal chain reaction in which the massive volume of interactions causes exponentially increasingly unstable consequences. If this analogy is valid, how can we put into place the equivalent cooling mechanisms to harness this power for good ?

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What's the Big Idea - Societal Fission or Fusion

  1. 1. The internet and atomic energy have certain things in common. They are man-made discoveries which can be used for good or evil and now that they have been invented there is no going back – we cannot un-invent either of them. The difference between nuclear energy and the internet is that our global society seeks to prevent a proliferation of nuclear energy to stop it falling into the wrong hands whereas we have made the power of the internet accessible to virtually everyone on the planet regardless of their potential usage for good or evil. I have only a layman’s understanding ofatomic energy but I understand that this fantastic power has been harnessed to generate light and heat peacefully and that mankind has developed ways of controlling the energy throug h cooling and managing the forces within the reactor. Nuclear fission happens when there are no such controls and an uncontrollable chain reaction is triggered with devastating results. It is somewhat timely and ironic that I read an extract from a book called “the Fear Index” written by Robert Harris, whose background is in nuclear physics.In this extract published in the UK’s “Daily Mail” newspaperhe suggests that a number of nuclear physicists who were made redundant when a massive USA project called the “Desertron” (the equivalent of CERN’s Hadron Collider) ran out of funding found employment on the Wall Street Stock Exchange where their skills were redeployed to develop sophisticated automated investment programmes which use artificial intelligence to buy and sell stock,making vast fortunes for a small group of very rich and elite investors, but threatening the stability of the global financial markets. He ends this extract of his book with the words : “It is that the financial system itself has somehow slipped all human control – that it has become the preserve of the profoundly anti-democratic,super-rich elite,and that it girdles the planet like some alien entity from an H.G. Wells
  2. 2. novel. The digitised financial machine doesnot work for us; we work for the machine and I do not believe that our political leadershave the faintest idea how to bring it under control.” My question is whether the internet has triggered the equivalent of a societal chain reaction in which the massive volume of interactions causes exponentially increasingly unstable consequences.If this analogy is valid, how can we put into place the equivalent cooling mechanisms to harness this power for good ?

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