Being better human beings

To be or not to be, that is the question.—William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.

I grew up believing in everything technology—that technology would eventually solve every concerning issue of humankind and take us humans to the stars. Then I realized that technology could cause unfavourable circumstances—disorienting dilemmas—that it could dehumanize me and create a slave-like situation. As I began to write about the Technojungle I had to ask the question, “What does it mean for me to be human?” I asked you the reader this question as we embarked on our journey of exploration and discovery. 

These books ask a lot of questions. Questions get you to think about our lives and particularly your life in the Technojungle. That’s the point. While I have given you, the reader, so many of my thoughts and ideas derived from my well over half a century of observations and experiences, in the end, it is not just about my personal safaris through the Technojungle. These books are about getting you to think, getting you to observe on your own safaris. 

As I stated at the beginning, these books are about a journey. A journey of exploration and discovery we have taken together and are calling a safari through the Technojungle. However, unlike most books about a journey, there is no end. These books are really about the beginning. As Winston Churchill stated, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” 

Now that you are nearing the end of these books, you are at the beginning of your own journey—your own safaris where you confront the dilemmas of the Technojungle. How have questions in this book got you looking, seeing and asking your own questions? How have question got you thinking? How has your journey through the Technojungle changed after reading these books?

The topic of technological change, the Technojungle, and how it makes us more or less human is a huge subject to study and an endless journey. As I was writing and was asked by friends how the book is coming along, I began to reply, “I have discovered that what I thought I knew, was only the surface and what I may be heading toward is a moving target.” In other words, the world is changing so fast, it is hard to keep up. We hear this sort of idea almost every day.

Questions get you to think about our lives and particularly your life in the Technojungle.

The important point here is, not that we will ever finish the journey by solving all problems associated with Technojungle living, but that we start. We must start to understand what is happening to the human race as the Technojungle entangles us further in technological foliage. Perhaps it is a race with technology to be human. For it is the Technojungle that has challenged and is challenging us in this human race, or race to be human. It is technology and the Technojungle that has often used us as machines and caused us to live our lives more machine-like. It is the same Technojungle that is striving to itself become more human-like. How has your life been machine-like? How can you begin to change the way you live in the Technojungle?

We humans in general, at least in the West, began to fall in love with science and technology—the Technojungle—during what we call The Enlightenment Period. It was the promise that the human mind, along with the technology humans could create, would eventually solve the problems plaguing humans and the world. God became unnecessary and was pushed aside as humans began to seek their own heaven and salvation through technology and the Technojungle. 

In a way humans have been repeating this idea through such efforts as the Tower of Babylon, the Titanic and now the Internet. The Enlightenment Period was the dawn of a love affair with the Technojungle where humans were drawn toward, and captivated by, this jungle. Humans began living in the Technojungle and becoming more like it, and the Technojungle began to exist more in the lives and world of humans, as if to slowly one day become human-like as humans become machine-like. 

The promises have been hanging in front of humankind leading us onward into the jungle. We thrive on the notion that just one more piece of the puzzle will be a solution. However, with each step forward down the paths of the Technojungle comes both the expected positives and the unexpected, often hidden negatives. 

There is always baggage, as we have seen. We often don’t even see or realize the unexpected and the baggage that the future brings through the Technojungle. The baggage can be right in front of us and we don’t even realize what is happening. These are the overarching dilemmas of being a human being in the Technojungle. Have you discovered any unexpected baggage? How about dilemmas?

These books are really about the beginning. As Winston Churchill stated, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Throughout these books, we have looked at how we humans are drawn closer to becoming more technological. From my perspective, this happens as technology and the Technojungle move ever closer and deeper into our lives, gaining abilities, characteristics, and traits, that emulate and then replace aspects of our human lives. Researchers will say that our lives are changing in ways that make us different, but these differences are not necessarily going make us less human. Others state that our use of devices is rewiring our brains. Some suggest that, once technology has taken over all the aspects of hardship in human life, we will be free to be totally human. Is this just another promise, the ultimate promise, that will come with some unexpected outcomes and baggage we will discover as the future arrives? Is hardship and struggle an aspect of what it means to be human? Then again, some great intellectuals have warned that AI might be the last thing humans create. As your life become ever more entangled in the Technojungle, do you feel you are becoming less human? In what ways? Do you believe that one day technology will free us all to be more human? 

Here we find once again that most important questions to ask—What does it mean to be human? I’ll remind you yet again to keep this question in mind as you continue to safari through the Technojungle? 

Another question is, What are the purposes of all our technologies and machines? How about, Where is the Technojungle taking us? Take a stab at determining your own notions about the answer to these questions, and any other related or similar questions that come to mind. See if and how your ideas around ‘what it means to be human’ change along your journey. Don’t forget to look, see and ask.

Those of you who, like myself, fall into the category of being baby boomers have an interesting perspective. You have lived in the pre-digital age. You had connections, through your parents and grandparents to other times of drastic and dramatic change. Boomers can understand the changes that occurred in both the Industrial Revolution and then the Digital Revolution in ways that no other generation can. Boomers can look at the Technojungle from a perspective that newer generations can’t. I suggest that we have something to pass along. We have something to say. I suggest that we boomers have an important task as we age. We have a certain wisdom that we must pass along if our children and their children are to be able to have a deeper understanding of what it means to strive toward being better human beings living in a world of technology—the Technojungle.

The topic of technological change, the Technojungle, and how it makes us more or less human is a huge subject to study and an endless journey. As I was writing and was asked by friends how the book is coming along, I began to reply, “I have discovered that what I thought I knew, was only the surface and what I may be heading toward is a moving target.” In other words, the world is changing so fast, it is hard to keep up. We hear this sort of idea almost every day.

Radical unceasing change has been the norm for boomers. It is easy for any of us, boomer or not, to be left behind as the technological train roars by through the Technojungle. Do we end up watching the endless line of train cars pass? Yet I also wonder, for those on the roaring technological train, are they missing getting to know the countryside and who they are as human beings?

In considering the ideas presented in these books, how might you be more thoughtful and intentional with your use of technology? How could you alter your life somewhat to appropriate technology in ways that ensure you, or anyone else, are not dehumanized, but instead live a more human life? Keep in mind adopt, adapt, or appropriate from earlier in the books. How might we use aspects of a jazz lifestyle to bring us more human ways of living and to bring us freedom from the possibly enslaving grip of the Technojungle?

You may have heard of the generations following the Boomers as Generations X, Y, and Z. Experts refer to these generations and describe how comfortable they are in dealing with the new technologies of their time. Often Generation Z is said to be the first fully digitally comfortable generation. These generations need to keep talking to learn from each other about how they feel and understand living in this Technojungle world.

This is a great time to look around at all the generations using technology today, see what is happening and begin to ask some important questions. This may be the most important time because, in labeling the current baby generation with a Z, they have left no further letters of the alphabet to label generations that will follow. Could this be a signal? Will experts revert to the beginning of the alphabet and what would that mean?

Perhaps it is a race with technology to be human. For it is the Technojungle that has challenged and is challenging us in this human race, or race to be human. It is technology and the Technojungle that has often used us as machines and caused us to live our lives more machine-like. It is the same Technojungle that is striving to itself become more human-like.

I’ll introduce here one final term to consider. When we perceive the Technojungle overtaking us in what it means for us to be human beings in more ways than it makes us more human, this becomes regress as opposed to progress. It seems evident from what we have discovered on our safari in these books, that with every step claimed to be progress forward, there does exist regress as well. This can often be the baggage we have looked at. What do you see with respect to progress and regress? Does regress always accompany progress? What are some examples you can think of? Is one person’s perceived progress a regress in the eyes of another person?

I have purposely not included in any indepth look at the history of Technojungle and technological change. That is very well documented and continues to be well documented through the Technojungle. I want these books to be different. It would be nice if they can become useful for, not just Boomers, but all generations. My hope is that what I have noted about technology could apply and be of use for many years to come—the future. 

Every generation living in the Technojungle gains the new and leaves something behind. At the same time, as we gain the new, much of the old continues along with us. The new so very often gets added to the old creating ever more a world of complexities. What have you noticed about the new replacing or displacing the old? What old technologies have you noticed that stick around?

God became unnecessary and was pushed aside as humans began to seek their own heaven and salvation through technology and the Technojungle. 

Each of us needs to learn to look, see and then ask our own questions and, with the help of other people together, find our own answers. I suggest that we keep our eyes on one particularly important aspect of being human beings. For us to really engage with what I put forth here in these books, that we look for wisdom. If we are committed to seeking and embracing wisdom, we will see through the many layers of Technojungle veneer that can obscure our view of our humanness and humanity. 

As you journey on your safaris through the Technojungle, your vision may become obscured by the foliage. The technological leaves of ideas and promises that hang before you every day say that the world is changing and therefore what it means to be human is changing. Are you in control of the changes to what it means for you to be human?

The Technojungle of promises tells us that the future is coming and that it is going to be incredible. By looking at the Technojungle carefully we can see what is happening and ask questions. We can see that the promised future of the Technojungle is never what we are lead to expect. It always comes with the unexpected, with baggage and presents us with dilemmas. What do you think about the future now that we are arriving at our destination—the end of these books? What are you expecting the future to be like? What is being promised for the future? Can you anticipate any unexpected baggage and dilemmas?

 Are you in control of the changes to what it means for you to be human?

As we stand here in the present, we always seem to have one foot in the past and one foot in the future. This is what defines our present and guides our decisions. The promises of the future in the Technojungle may glitter in the sunlight of the dawn of each technological morning. 

A goal of this book is to help us find ways to step back, or to somehow get above the Technojungle to get a birds-eye view. It is like the expression, ‘We can’t see the forest for the trees. Our lives are so busy trying to keep up with the pace of life in the Technojungle and we are so close to what is happening, that we are unable to truly see what is actually going on. I want this book to help you begin to get that birds-eye view. Do you feel you have a better view, a birds-eye, of the Technojungle now that you have been on our safari?

I have a special request before I end this chapter and let you read on into the future with the final bold chapter of this book.

You are going to discover even more ways the Technojungle is stealing your right to be human; your right to safety, security and privacy; your right to think for yourself, to be autonomous; to be free of the Technobeasts influencing your life, monitoring, manipulating and micro-managing you daily; free from tracking and tracing; free from all the unexpected baggage the future has brought you.

Don’t say you have nothing to hide because then you become part of the problem, complicit in the activities of the enslavers. Don’t let the Technojungle algorithms steer your activities and your thinking.

I want you to stand up and raise your digital hands. Stand up to the Technobeasts and shout for freedom. Vote for freedom by changing your ways. Opt for online products and services that protect your privacy. I know it will mean telling friends and business contacts that you will no longer use certain products and services. Certain big tech companies are super-offenders, intrusive in your life and the lives of people around you. Stand up and refuse to be controlled. I realize it is not simple, it’s impossible to completely protect yourself, but begin taking some steps. I understand that there is more to it than technology—economics, politics, etc., but you have a voice—you have a vote. The Technojungle will never become safer and more human friendly if we don’t act. Begin now before it is too late!

Call it, if you wish, a new civil rights movement—one that is inclusive for all human beings. You may decide it is a war. Take action, peaceful action, and let’s civilize the Technojungle!

The essence of these books is learning to look at how technology affects our humanness and humanity. If technology is that which we create and use to assist us and is external from our bodies, then what makes us truly human is that which is within our body, soul and spirit. Living in the Technojungle becomes the intersection of our humanity and our technology.

Being better human beings in the Technojungle means that we need to seek to be more human. ‘To be,’ we must know who and what we are, or we will ‘not be.’ Being in the Technojungle as a human being is about knowing what it means to be human and then being human beings. How can we learn to protect ourselves from becoming absorbed by our machines; to keep technology from replacing us humans and humanity? How can we begin to redeem and reclaim, that which we may have lost; retain and maintain what we have today; and protect our humanness and humanity as we continue being better human beings living in a world of technology—the Technojungle.

A couple of final questions. What are you expecting from technology and the Technojungle now and in the future? What are you expecting from the future? How can you work towards redeeming and reclaiming that which we may have lost, retaining and maintaining what we have today, and protecting our humanness and humanity for our future as we learn about being better human beings and living in a world of technology—the Technojungle?

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