Is anyone else out there more than vaguely disturbed by Mark Zuckerberg’s announcements and promo videos about Meta and the metaverse? I, for one, recognise just how easy it is to become addicted to various streams of social media and living life online, particularly as so much of our daily activities can be linked to online transactions, apps or behaviours.
Living in a tiny shed in a forest has certainly helped Brett and I to spend less time hooked on the internet and endless scrolling of our electronic devices. However, these days I am trying to make more conscious effort to wean myself off Facebook, Twitter and checking my emails and focus on creative endeavours, our house build, gardening and prioritising face to face relationships instead – either in person (and by adhering to Covid19 rules) or by video calls to friends in different corners of the world.
However, the creep of AI, algorithms, apps and virtual reality into all spheres of life seems to be insidious and unstoppable. Will there be no end to digital domination? Coupled with the rise in authoritarian governments and large multi-national corporations increasing their surveillance and harvesting data, so that they can further manipulate willing and docile populations to do their bidding, while stripping vital human rights away….I am left wondering whether AI will lead to human extinction. We cannot stay locked into runaway consumer capitalist models that governments and multi-nationals consistently worship as gods, for these are destroying our beautiful planet, causing mass extinctions of species and threatening our ability to feed, water and protect our communities, not least through the global climate emergency.
As a committed humanitarian, while going through reactionary depression in 2014, I began to reflect upon how lost the international humanitarian sector has become in left-brain thinking and behaviour patterns. The machinery is now so dependent upon the endless gathering of data and bureaucratic procedures, that it defaults to funding and supporting the largest most bureaucratic agencies and entities that can cope with it all in a self-perpetuating cycle. Therefore, the humanitarian system seems to have squeezed out the heart of humanitarian action – actual humanity itself i.e. being human, demonstrating love, compassion, kindness, respect, trust and so on. This is even more acutely felt by smaller, local actors, who are overburdened by compliance mechanisms, even though the humanitarian sector is apparently committed to localisation.
Since Mark Zuckerberg announced Meta, I have allowed my mind to wander down various trains of thought, trying to imagine what it would be like if humanitarians, development workers and peace builders entered the metaverse and made this video below. Although it is a parody, I would urge you to consider it as a work of speculative fiction, rather than sci-fi, because I actually think we will see aspects of this come to fruition in next five years or so or sooner. What do you think?
Please feel free to share this video with other humanitarians, development workers and peacebuilders. Perhaps we can have a conversation about the implications of such innovations on the work that we do – the good and the bad and what we are trying to achieve, and more importantly, how these will ultimately affect the people with whom we walk in solidarity? I will be grateful for your thoughts and reflections in the comments below.
Thanks for watching and reading. I always appreciate your thoughtful responses and support.
Peace, love and light,