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Home > 2022 > Digitizing To Dystopia: Wanted: Enlightened leadership | S.G.Vombatkere

Digitizing To Dystopia: Wanted: Enlightened leadership | S.G.Vombatkere

Friday 27 May 2022, by S G Vombatkere

The combination of information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology (IT-BT-NT) is the cutting edge of civilizational transformation in the on-going “digital era”. This technological trio is based upon digitizing and manipulating data. [Ref.1]

IT-BT-NT are becoming primary tools for research in the physical, natural, and social sciences, and connected technologies.

Perhaps the most influential technologies created by IT-BT-NT in the social, economic and political spheres of human societies, are the AI and cyber technologies.

The individual or institution which owns or controls data gains control over systems using that data, whether the systems are machines or social structures.

Greater digitization of societies tends towards greater centralization of politico-economic power and homogenizing societies. Increased digitization goes against democratization, and the general principle of diversity being the strength of eco-systems including human societies. It is emphasized that this is not a neo-Luddite call to stop or reverse technological advances.

The IT-BT-NT trio are game-changers, which have transformed the structure of societies, by concentrating political (including military and police) and economic power and authority, in a very few persons.

These persons wield unquestioned, unquestionable authority, because they have access to information about people in general, and especially key persons who head social/economic/political institutions. They retain control using IT-enhanced, AI-enhanced surveillance and intelligence, and display autocratic behaviour with an authoritarian governance style.

This may be observed worldwide, due to the increasingly deep penetration of digital technologies into all aspects of daily life.

It has been posited that extra-statal, extremely powerful politician-corporate-administrator-police nexuses operate at national and international levels. These nexuses exercise behind-the-scenes enormous influence on societies, for their economic gains and real-time social-economic-political power, by directly or indirectly using persons in positions of political and administrative power and authority. These powerful persons have wealthy cronies who are part of the nexus, which is sometimes referred to as “the deep-state”, with corporate entities as the dominant elements.

Thus, in all nations, “Big Money purchases politicians, policies, public perception of reality, and hence votes, more political power and more private profit”. [Ref.2]

They increasingly control human, material, financial, and data resources, which enable better IT-BT-NT for production and control.

National and international nexuses practice the ideology of unending economic growth with resource-exploitation for industrialization.

Rampant industrialization has caused environmental degradation, ecological devastation, and unprecedented carbon emissions, global warming and climate change.

Globally, inequality of political and economic power has increased enormously: “The richest 1% own almost 46% of the world’s wealth”. [Ref.3]

India’s Economic Advisory Council’s State of Inequality in India Report [Ref.4] indicates serious income distribution inequality, with India’s top 1% accounting for 5-7% of national income, while around 15% of the working population earns less than ₹5,000 monthly. Those earning ₹25,000 monthly fall into the top 10%, and account for 30-35% of national income. Worryingly, the top 1% shows growing income, while the bottom 10%’s income is shrinking – the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and the economic gap within societies widens.

The worsening wealth inequality in an ever worsening global climate crisis [Ref.2] aggravates social tensions, unrest, conflicts and strife.

Today, the IT-BT-NT trio trumps other technologies in all fields, and is exacerbating, even generating, social problems.

Climate change is inextricably linked to the global economy, and is happening at a rate which the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change had grossly underestimated, according to its own admission.

The rate at which climate change could actually occur, and threaten human societies due to reduced land area, inhospitable habitat and diminishing resources, is arguably beyond the capability of our human species to adapt biologically and socially, in real-time.

However, inhospitable habitat and diminishing resources may not constrain AI-created robotic and humanoid entities, which have IT-BT-NT capabilities superior to humans, and near-zero biological vulnerabilities. [Ref.5]

Only natural human wisdom can prevail over machine intelligence, to ensure the continuance of human populations far less than present billion-levels, in various parts of the globe.

Societies and leaders
Contemporary human societies have elected, selected or self-appointed leaders, usually with advisory bodies of other humans. The leadership is increasingly dependent upon technology to govern their respective societies. Governance includes using technology for large-scale influence on social opinion, social preferences, and social behaviour, and to consolidate and perpetuate the power and authority of the leader, by increasing centralization.

Many, even most, leaders are willy-nilly sucked into the corporate-controlled deep-state nexuses. This makes individual leaders at all levels, subordinate to one or other nexus, thereby inhibiting them from using their natural wisdom for the benefit of their respective societies. They effectively become agents, even subsidiaries, of the deep-state nexus.

The outcome is falling parameters of individuals’ freedoms and liberties, which worsen as the economic gap widens, and the quality of life of large numbers of people falls while the standard of living of the minuscule wealthy rises. People’s leaders, “prisoners” of one or another nexus, govern using energy-intensive, capital-intensive IT-BT-NT based technologies, which ultimately benefit the deep-state.

There is little understanding that entire societies are spiralling downwards socially and economically. Humanity is self-destructing in paroxysms of violence within and between societies and nations. Only enlightened leadership can free societies from the strangle-hold of the deep-state in the driving seat, and prevent humanity from sinking into a digitized dystopia.

Leaders for tomorrow

The technologies of IT-BT-NT cannot be reversed, unlearned or eliminated – they are part of contemporary human civilization. Pragmatism dictates that these technologies are used by leaders of societies to initiate and drive social processes to improve people’s lives and livelihoods, and sustain biodiversity. It will be a difficult and lengthy process of educational and social reforms, to shift out of the current paradigm of perpetual-quantitative-economic-growth-at-any-cost.

Climate-change-driven threat to human populations, and technology-enabled superiority of AI entities, combine as an existential crisis for humanity. The quality of leadership needed to steer tomorrow’s societies will have to transcend current standards, to face the enormous survival challenges which societies will surely confront.

References (No.2, 3 & 4 are hyperlinked)

1. S.G.Vombatkere; “Human Future in the Digital Era”; Plenary Lecture, 42nd Indian Social Science Congress; December 27-31, 2018; KIIT University, Bhubanehwar, Odisha; Indian Social Science Academy, Social Science Abstracts, Vol.XLII, 2018; pp.52-65.
2. Gideon Polya; “Review - ‘Time for Socialism’ by Thomas Piketty – Climate Action & Sharing Limited Resources”; <https://countercurrents.org/2022/05...> ; Countercurrents.org; May 13, 2022.
3. INEQUALITY.org; “Facts: Global Inequality”; <https://inequality.org/facts/global...> ; Accessed on 14.5.2022.
4. Rahul Karunakar; “Earning ₹ 25,000 Per Month? You Are In India’s Top 10%: Report”; <https://www.ndtv.com/business/earni...> ; NDTV Profit; May 20, 2022.
5. S.G.Vombatkere; “Transforming the World – Engineering Humanity: A soft science view of hard science“; Plenary Lecture, 44th Indian Social Science Congress; March 15-19, 2021; Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh; Indian Social Science Academy, Social Science Abstracts, Volume 44, 2021, pp.58-68.

*S.G.Vombatkere holds a PhD in Civil Structural Dynamics (1987; I.I.T., Madras), and is a Fellow of The Institution of Engineers (India), and Fellow of The Indian Social Science Academy.

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