Archive for category Computers
I saw on some Facebook page a bit of a self indulgent reminiscence by one of my generation recalling the good old days when we had face-to-face friends not face-book friends; when we built go carts to race downhill against our mates rather than played X Box games against avatars. When someone else took photos of us if the occasion was significant and we kept those photo prints in a private album. There is nothing new in the older generation despairing for the younger generation; that has been going on since at least the time of Socrates, but the difference today is not so much attitudinal as it is technological. Today’s technology has had an influence on the behaviour of youth that Socrates could never imagine in his wildest philosophies.
The Facebook post put the timing of this quantum shift in normality at the mid 1980’s. Those of us born before that time had real lives, but the post 80’s generation are now living a fake online life and they seem to be really struggling, emotionally, to adapt their natural human psyche to this self-created virtual world.
Computers in primitive form had been around well before the 1980’s but they were just big, cumbersome calculating machines. I tried, unsuccessfully, to learn to speak to one of these great machines when I did accounting at university in the early 1970’s. The computer then needed its own room, actually it was the size of a small room itself. It spake strange tongues of Portran and Fortran. It told me, numerically speaking, that it was in control of me, not the other way around. If what I put in did not compute, it spat it back out. Start again human. IBM was the driving force of the computer world and seemed focused on keeping it within the corporate and political world, well above the lives of ordinary folk.
But it was in the late 1970’s that Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs started a business to bring these giant computing machines down to size and into our homes. They wanted computers to be fun for all. They named the company Apple. In his biography Steve Jobs said that it was just a serendipitous choice; that he was on a fruitarian diet at the time and had just returned from an apple farm and thought the fresh, fun name suited his company’s vibe. If so, the coincidence is uncanny. The apple has an established historical connection with a quantum leap in mankind’s knowledge of universal law when Isaac Newton said he had his ‘eureka’ moment about gravity when he watched an apple fall from a tree.
The apple also has a prehistorical connection with man’s quest for knowledge and even immortality. In Norse mythology the goddess Idun was the keeper of the apples of the tree of knowledge and life and is known as the goddess of eternal youth. In Greek mythology, the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus, ruled the Garden of the Hesperides (nymphs) where there was an orchard in which trees bearing golden apples had the power to heal and renew.
The Hebrew mythology, which is the one most well known in the Judeo-Christian world, is that Lucifer (the enlightened one) gave Eve, the mother of all mankind, an apple from the tree of knowledge in the garden of Eden. Yahweh was most displeased because mortal man was not ready for such knowledge and so was banished from the lush farmlands of Eden; sent back to the wild to forage like the beasts lest man also eats the apple from the tree of eternal life.
And yet still mankind flourished. According to Genesis 6, the sons of God mated with the daughters of man to create ‘great men’. However the next chapter of genesis describes a cataclysmic forty day flood over all the earth that might well have resulted in our species becoming extinct. Geological and climatic research has now shown us that the biblical and mythical global flood that killed most of humankind, at least in the northern hemisphere, did actually happen 12,000 years ago and the cause was a massive meteor strike on earth, massive not quite as big as the one that had caused the dinosaurs’ extinction 66 million years earlier.
At the time, planet earth was emerging from an ice age; but still the whole of Canada and countries across northern Europe were under an ice cap that would have been about three kilometres thick. And this is where the biggest chunks of the comet hit. This great flood has been discussed in detail in an earlier blog and the scientific evidence does support that this great flood did really happen.
Archeological evidence of civilisation pre deluge is, understandably, a bit thin on the ground. Such a cataclysmic event would not leave much behind. But we do have writings from the middle east region; the authors of the Book of Genesis, the authors of Gilgamesh and those writings of a prophet called Zarathustra. The first two write of an ark in which the selected humans, plants and animals floated above the flood and survived to restart civilisation again. Zarathustra wrote of a prediction that a giant serpent would fly through the sky and that, in readiness for this event, underground, multi level caverns called Vara were built with sophisticated entranceways between the levels and artificial lighting. Indications of a technologically advanced civilisation pre-deluge; this was no hunter gatherer group of tribes. Such multi-level caverns have recently been excavated in Cabbadicia, southern Turkey. Only the highest quality human, plant and animal species were housed there and they were control- bred to maintain the population levels. When the long winter was over, they were sent out in boats to repopulate the world and to utilise, in secret, the technological knowledge that had been preserved.
But the knowledge that these great men, survivors of the great deluge, possessed must have been quite advanced. The meteor would have done a few circuits around the solar system before zooming in for the kill; so if we, or the gods, had prepared for it then then we must have had sophisticated astronomical knowledge. And as all myths record that there was indeed a plan to save the best of humanity, animal life and plants, so there must have been that astronomical knowledge to allow those plans to be made and executed. Soon human civilisation re-established itself to the level that we now have archeological evidence of sophisticated buildings and civilisations dating back 10,000 years in Gobekli Tepe in southern Turkey. We know of sophisticated cities such as Babel in Mesopotamia. Babel meant a place where many people gather to talk together. A place of debate and learning. Its modern meaning is voices talking over the top of each other in excited discussion. And it was here, in Babel, that the idea of building a tower with which they would endeavour to reach the heavens was conceived.
Interestingly the discovery of 5,000 year old clay tablets in southern Iraq, ancient Mesopotamia, showed an astronomical map of our solar system that included the outer planets of Uranus and Neptune which were not discovered by the post-flood modern man until the 18th and 19th centuries, after the invention of the telescope. It also shows the two largest dwarf planets of Pluto and Eris. Prior to the re-invention of the telescope only the planets visible to the naked eye were known to ancient sky watchers. As we know, Yahweh ‘confused’ the Babel, scattered the men who conceived it across the lands and the project to reach the heavens apparently never got off the ground.
But after the deluge we redeveloped our knowledge of agriculture, pottery, metallurgy, astronomy and technology. Mankind survived and flourished; the scattered regrouped, their babel no longer confused. And now the two Steve’s have brought the Apple computer into our homes. Well they did not immediately arrive into our homes; in the 1970’s and 80’s they were still a geeky, impractical and expensive machine that most homes could happily live without. But while Wozniak was the brains behind the machine itself he would never have taken it beyond the techno geek market and as such would not have survived commercially. His Apple would have withered on the branch. Jobs was most certainly the man (the Lucifer, the enlightened one) responsible for giving the Apple of knowledge to mankind. And in a very strategic move, he first took it into the classroom, actually donating the original Apple 1 to some schools just to whet the appetite. He was less interested in wasting the fruits of the Apple on the elders of humankind, he wanted to give it to the children. In 1978 he won a contract to supply 500 Apple II computers to schools in Minnesota. In 1983 he sold a computer package (including floppy disc) to over 9,000 schools in California at a cost per package then for what you would now get a decent I-Mac. The Macintosh (an actual variety of apple) was launched in 1984 and the flood gates started to open.
One generation after the Apple from the tree of knowledge was fed to our children, we could no longer imagine education without computers. We could not imagine homes without computers, or people without smartphones.
My little grand daughter was just two years old when her innate demand for language, knowledge and technology led us to the conclusion that we had no option but to give her her own personal connection into the universal consciousness. Her very own Apple i-pad. She took to it like a duck to water. Her knowledge, understanding and communication skills have taken quantum leaps; she swipes through the icons as though she invented them.
So once again an apple from the tree of knowledge is the means by which knowledge and imagination is being spread throughout humanity. It is the means by which we have built our rocket propelled towers with which to explore the heavens. In history Babel was the place where many voices come to speak together. Could the modern day Babel be the headquarters of Google, Apple, NASA and Spacex? Or is 21st century Babel located in the cloud and refers to the inanity of Twitter? The fake lives of Instagram? The pretend friends of Facebook? Interestingly while the Bible’s Genesis tells us that is was man’s corruption and evil that cause the great flood, the pre-dated original Sumerian clay texts said it was the noise and unending chatter of humans that caused the Gods to bring the great flood.
The changes in our lifestyle are, in reality, just as dramatic as noted in the Facebook post that began this blog. The irony being that he used Facebook to express his concerns; he did not call around to voice his concerns to me in person over a cup of coffee.
If Steve Jobs was the 21st century Lucifer then let us hope that humanity is ready for such knowledge this time around. Embracing the computer technology pioneered by Jobs in order to elevate humanity to new levels is Elon Musk, founder of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX who has now announced that the final goal of “Neuralink”, his brain-machine interface development, is to allow humans to achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence. Neuralink aims to implant wireless brain-computer interfaces in the most complex human organ to help cure neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia and spinal cord injuries and ultimately fuse humankind with artificial intelligence.
The reaction of God, having discovered that Adam had eaten the apple from the tree of knowledge, was to expel man from Eden to forage like the beasts in the wild lest they then seek to eat from the tree of life and live forever. Then mankind’s language was confused lest they build their tower to reach the heavens.
Interfacing human consciousness with artificial intelligence as a means of living forever and exploring distant galaxies in the heavens is actually now a very real prospect within the next decade.