The Future of Civilization

The Future of Civilization

Andrew Targowski (Haworth College of Business, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 24
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.

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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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