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The Future of Civilization

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DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-004-2.ch017
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Targowski, Andrew. "The Future of Civilization." Information Technology and Societal Development. IGI Global, 2009. 395-418. Web. 25 Oct. 2014. doi:10.4018/978-1-60566-004-2.ch017

APA

Targowski, A. (2009). The Future of Civilization. In A. Targowski (Ed.), Information Technology and Societal Development (pp. 395-418). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. doi:10.4018/978-1-60566-004-2.ch017

Chicago

Targowski, Andrew. "The Future of Civilization." In Information Technology and Societal Development, ed. Andrew Targowski, 395-418 (2009), accessed October 25, 2014. doi:10.4018/978-1-60566-004-2.ch017

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Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is the investigation whether human civilization has much of a future on the Earth. This investigation is partially based upon research by members of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences (Krakow), conducted in 1998-2002. The discoveries and applications of technology which led to our civilization are impressive. Archaeology and history teach us about it. However, in the Age of information-communication technology, it is apparent that technology may no longer merely support civilization but conquer it. In the past, civilization’s progress was slow. Centuries elapsed with no events meaningful to modern questions. Nowadays, civilization faces an impact from technology so tremendous as to disturb the fragile equilibrium between humans and the ecosystem. This raises many questions in respect of the future of civilization and its ability to survive despite many threats. Therefore, it is worthy to reflect on its future and duration. Can or even must it vanish due to the inevitable end of the solar system? In the short run, let us look at current problems of civilization, a very complex system composed of three components (Figure 17-1): • Human entities • Culture • Infrastructure The development of human civilization, as defined in this study1, has been proceeding as long as humans have lived in organized societies in favorable environments. According to accepted estimates, hominids began to live in the Earth about 6-5 million years ago. The development of more skillful mankind began about 200,000- 150,000 years ago, when modern man, Homo sapiens, was living in South-Eastern Africa2. From this location, Homo sapiens began to move to: South-Western Asia (50,000 years ago), Australia (50,000), Europe (40,000), New Guinea (40,000), Siberia (25,000), and North America (12,000) (Burenhult, 2003a). Modern men began to be more social first as hunter-gatherers, then when the Ice Age ended (-10,000) as farmers and town-dwellers (-9,000). Recorded historic civilization is about 6,000 years old (Burenhult, 2003b) and is associated with the rise of Mesopotamian civilization (includes Sumerian and Semitic people) (4,000 B.C.), followed by Egyptian (3,100 B.C.), Indus (2,500 B.C.), Sinic (1,500 B.C.), and so forth. At the beginning of the 21st century, humans (applying electronic information-communication tools based on unlimited memories and on friendly graphic user interfaces that require huge memories and processing speed) improve their symbols processing capability as humans were 60,000 years ago, when language was formed and decided about human socialization and organization through the rapid development of brain/mind as Homo verbalis2. The next leap took place in about 4,000 B.C. when Homo scriba applied INFOCO- 2 (manuscripts). Nowadays, we deal with the information-communication revolution or INFOCO revolution (Homo electronicus), which is the next challenge for civilization. It leads to the faster development of knowledge and wisdom; on the other hand, it may support projects which may first conquer and later destroy civilization. Does civilization, as a short cosmologic instance, have any chance of survival? Let us reflect on this possibility in the next sections.
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Introduction

The purpose of this chapter is the investigation whether human civilization has much of a future on the Earth. This investigation is partially based upon research by members of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences (Krakow), conducted in 1998-2002.

The discoveries and applications of technology which led to our civilization are impressive. Archaeology and history teach us about it. However, in the Age of information-communication technology, it is apparent that technology may no longer merely support civilization but conquer it. In the past, civilization’s progress was slow. Centuries elapsed with no events meaningful to modern questions. Nowadays, civilization faces an impact from technology so tremendous as to disturb the fragile equilibrium between humans and the ecosystem.

This raises many questions in respect of the future of civilization and its ability to survive despite many threats. Therefore, it is worthy to reflect on its future and duration. Can or even must it vanish due to the inevitable end of the solar system?

In the short run, let us look at current problems of civilization, a very complex system composed of three components (Figure 1):

Figure 1.

Civilization system

  • Human entities

  • Culture

  • Infrastructure

The development of human civilization, as defined in this study1, has been proceeding as long as humans have lived in organized societies in favorable environments. According to accepted estimates, hominids began to live in the Earth about 6-5 million years ago. The development of more skillful mankind began about 200,000-150,000 years ago, when modern man, Homo sapiens, was living in South-Eastern Africa2. From this location, Homo sapiens began to move to: South-Western Asia (50,000 years ago), Australia (50,000), Europe (40,000), New Guinea (40,000), Siberia (25,000), and North America (12,000) (Burenhult, 2003a). Modern men began to be more social first as hunter-gatherers, then when the Ice Age ended (-10,000) as farmers and town-dwellers (-9,000). Recorded historic civilization is about 6,000 years old (Burenhult, 2003b) and is associated with the rise of Mesopotamian civilization (includes Sumerian and Semitic people) (4,000 B.C.), followed by Egyptian (3,100 B.C.), Indus (2,500 B.C.), Sinic (1,500 B.C.), and so forth.

At the beginning of the 21st century, humans (applying electronic information-communication tools based on unlimited memories and on friendly graphic user interfaces that require huge memories and processing speed) improve their symbols processing capability as humans were 60,000 years ago, when language was formed and decided about human socialization and organization through the rapid development of brain/mind as Homo verbalis2. The next leap took place in about 4,000 B.C. when Homo scriba applied INFOCO-2 (manuscripts). Nowadays, we deal with the information-communication revolution or INFOCO revolution (Homo electronicus), which is the next challenge for civilization. It leads to the faster development of knowledge and wisdom; on the other hand, it may support projects which may first conquer and later destroy civilization.

Does civilization, as a short cosmologic instance, have any chance of survival? Let us reflect on this possibility in the next sections.

Civilization Threats

The synthesis of civilization threats will be presented according to the classification of civilization elements and will begin with those ones which are the least depended on human action.

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Complete Chapter List

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Chapter 1
Andrew Targowski
The purpose of this study is to develop a comprehensive model of generic civilizations and world civilization, applying the cybernetic technique of... Sample PDF
The Civilization Grand Model
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Chapter 2
Andrew Targowski
The purpose of this study is to define the role of civilization’s critical powers in the civilization life cycle. The role of... Sample PDF
Civilization Life Cycle: Introduction
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Chapter 3
The Civilization Index  (pages 62-77)
Andrew Targowski
The purpose of this chapter is to define energy levels of civilizations, particularly in respect to a role of information-communication processes.... Sample PDF
The Civilization Index
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Chapter 4
Andrew Targowski
The purpose of this chapter is to evaluate a role of information-communication (INFOCO) processes in human development according to the following... Sample PDF
(A) Liberating the Future from the Past
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Chapter 5
Andrew Targowski
The purpose of this chapter is to define intrinsic values of information-communication processes in human development. The development of... Sample PDF
(B) Liberating the Past from the Future
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Chapter 6
Andrew Targowski
The purpose of this chapter is to investigate whether we humans are wise enough to save our civilization from threats of internal conflicts and... Sample PDF
Will Wisdom Save the Human Project?
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Chapter 7
Andrew Targowski
The purpose of this chapter is to define processes triggering the emergence of global civilization at the beginning of the 21st century. In... Sample PDF
From Global to Universal-Complementary Civilization
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Chapter 8
Andrew Targowski
The purpose of this chapter is to define information- based tools for the study of the human story in order to “informate” traditional historic... Sample PDF
Theory of Critical Total History of Civilization
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Chapter 9
Andrew Targowski
This chapter will attempt to analyze the cumulative evolution of labor, intellect (information & knowledge), and politics. In pursuit of this aim... Sample PDF
The Information Wave of Civilization
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Chapter 10
Andrew Targowski
The purpose of this chapter is to define information, mainly in terms of cognition units, and also to find out its other perspectives and images.... Sample PDF
Information and Organization
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Chapter 11
Andrew Targowski
The purpose of this chapter is to define a scope of service science and service automation in service economy based on ideal generic service systems... Sample PDF
Service Science and Automation Laws
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Chapter 12
Information Laws  (pages 277-288)
Andrew Targowski
The purpose of this chapter is to define information laws which control the development of the global and universal civilizations as well as... Sample PDF
Information Laws
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Chapter 13
Andrew Targowski
The purpose of this chapter is to define the architecture of information-communication systems which play key roles in the development of the... Sample PDF
The Electronic Global Village
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Chapter 14
Information Societies  (pages 311-343)
Andrew Targowski
The purpose of this chapter is to define the evolution and key indicators of the information society that is being triggered by the Information Wave... Sample PDF
Information Societies
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Chapter 15
Asymmetric Communication  (pages 345-362)
Andrew Targowski
This chapter defines a framework for the crosscultural communication process, including efficiency and cost. The framework provides some directions... Sample PDF
Asymmetric Communication
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Chapter 16
Andrew Targowski
The purpose of this chapter is to define the dynamics of the economic infrastructure, which supports any civilization and defines the modus operandi... Sample PDF
Civilization Market Integration
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Chapter 17
Andrew Targowski
The purpose of this chapter is the investigation whether human civilization has much of a future on the Earth. This investigation is partially based... Sample PDF
The Future of Civilization
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Chapter 18
Andrew Targowski
For years, the construction of the universe has occupied the best minds of theologians and scientists. The first modern breakthrough was made by... Sample PDF
The Information Architecture of the Universe
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