“Evolution of info-structure in the information age”
Posted 3 hours ago
Proposed by Ethical Markets Media
© Hazel Henderson 2021
All nations evolve their infrastructure with the knowledge and technologies of their peoples. From our distant past as small groups of nomadic hunter-gatherers, we learned about the use of fire to melt iron and tin – progressing from the Iron Age to the Bronze Age. We have learned to domesticate animals, to grow our food, to settle in villages, our first form of infrastructure, in order to ensure our collective survival more effectively.
Thus, the forms of infrastructure of human societies have continued to evolve as we move from village to city – always needing to stay connected to meet our changing needs for survival and development. Our dirt roads became paved, augmented by rivers linked by networks of canals, the first infrastructure of the industrial age. Our ships began to keep us connected across oceans, while railways connected us across continents.
As our knowledge grew, we lit our lives with candles, whale oil lamps, and then gas lamps with today’s electricity transmitted long distances through interconnected national grids. . This grid infrastructure also connected our minds, beyond writing on early papyri, paper, parchment, to books, letters, brochures, newspapers, radio, television, the internet and the media. current social. Hence the new term “infostructure”.
Our combined physical infrastructure, roads, bridges, rails, urban transit, sewers, sanitation and water pipes, gave birth to today’s booming infostructure, as our economies changed. The production of tangible tangible goods has been overtaken by the growth of services and intangible assets. These intangible services, intellectual products and digital assets include patents, trademarks, copyrights, degrees and business models. Research needs have increased and national laboratories have innovated genetic approaches to health, renewable energies from photons and free computers from the Sun, robotics, human-formed machine learning, algorithms, described by Don and Alex Tapscott in “Blockchain Revolution” (2016). These software technologies run our pensions, make our life decisions, and their information warfare is now replacing tanks and aircraft carriers. So, “Train humans before we train machines”!
This infostructure has grown from our one-piece schools that nurture our children’s minds, to free public education, early care and development programs. Student loans have enabled wider participation in publicly funded colleges and universities as magnets for new markets. The Covid 19 pandemic has taught us that we can no longer count on the economy of love: families, volunteering, charity and the unpaid work of women to care for our sick and elderly or raise our children. . Four million women: frontline nurses, teachers and service workers lost their jobs. Child care centers have closed, forcing many more to quit other vital public service jobs. Thus, today’s human services infostructure requires rebuilding this strong support system, the backbone of all our markets and businesses, to fully restore the 20 million jobs lost in the pandemic. London School of Economics Director Minouche Shafik reports that companies are averaging a 14.3% return on investment in preventive health care and that child care is now critical infrastructure, in “What We Owe Each Other ”, (2021).
All this infostructure which dominates today’s information age, has also brought new dangers, described by Alexander Klimburg in “The Darkening Web” (2017), as hackers and cybercriminals can now electronically attack our aging critical infrastructure: our pipelines, fiber optic cables, electrical networks, airports, subways and water networks. Even our satellites are threatened by the space debris we carelessly dumped, which now threatens to turn our planet into an orbiting prison with its self-imposed screen for further space exploration, as I warned in the 1990s. Our planet is now crisscrossed with all of our tangible and intangible forms of connectivity, described by futurist Parag Khanna in “Connectography: The Future of Global Civilization” (2016).
All of this human connectivity has evolved over the centuries to facilitate our production and organize our collective activities and governance, from early feudalism and theocracies, monarchies and autocracies to city councils, regional legislatures and national parliaments and to decision making ever more democratic and technological innovation. Today we live in “mediocracies and their attention economies” regardless of our overt forms of government. Access to media, advertising and public relations now seem to take precedence over politics, private enterprise, culture, values and local communities. Central banks issue our currencies, which are no longer backed by gold and are now threatened by private and anonymous cryptocurrencies, speculation, digital derivatives, and Facebook’s “balance”. Everything is now politicized, even the definitions of words as infrastructure! We add the term “infostructure” to shed light on this shift from hardware to software, from atoms to bits.
Most of the current national infrastructure and its brand new infostructure are funded by long-term government investments in most industrial and post-industrial countries. These larger, more complex corporations require taxpayers to make investments in their basic fundamentals, which no individual or group company can provide. In the United States, only the government led by Eisenhower had the capacity to build the interstate highway system. Only the FDR-led government and Congress could have provided funding for the companies that built the Hoover Dam, without which Arizona would still be mostly an empty desert and Los Angeles still a village. Yet the current debate is still about 19th and 20th century infrastructure, rather than the infostructure that now dominates our lives and our economy.
Today’s U.S. debates are about repairing and upgrading our crumbling materials infrastructure, which is $ 3 trillion in backlog, according to public engineering groups. In addition, we must invest to strengthen new vulnerabilities in our critical national electricity grid, water systems, gas and oil networks, such as Colonial Pipelines recently attacked by ransomware emanating from Russia. All of this reminds us of the competitive nature of national infrastructure as the foundation of our complex societies, as we first experienced in the 1950s when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik and a manned spacecraft. It pushed US governments into space and the founding of NASA. Today, China is a leader in urban infrastructure, electrified railways, high-speed and Maglev trains, national highways, air travel, airports and space, as well as electric networks and vehicles. , renewable energies, solar panels and wind turbines exported to the West.
It’s time to upgrade the mental software of our politicians and mainstream media editors and bring this debate into the present and face these issues that will decide our future.
Ethical Markets Media
Ethical Markets Media
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