The Third Industrial Revolution

I saw this today and am mightily impressed. I’d not heard of Jeremy Rifkin before but what he says is worth listening to closely.

What is the difference between the ‘Third Industrial Revolution’ that Jeremy Rifkin is talking about here and the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ ? The following definitions are both from Wikipedia:

“The Digital Revolution (also known as the Third Industrial Revolution) is the shift from mechanical and analogue electronic technology to digital electronics which began in the latter half of the 20th century, with the adoption and proliferation of digital computers and digital record-keeping, that continues to the present day.”

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution (or Industry 4.0) is the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology. Large-scale machine-to-machine communication (M2M) and the internet of things (IoT) are integrated for increased automation, improved communication and self-monitoring, and production of smart machines that can analyze and diagnose issues without the need for human intervention.”

For Rifkin the Third Industrial Revolution is founded on ‘Three Internets’:

A Communication Internet
A Digitalised Renewable Energy Internet
An Automated GPS Transport Internet

What most interests me in Rifkin’s presentation is his contention that these three Internets are by design distributed and decentralised rather than centralised. Although I’m far from being familiar with these concepts it seem to me that the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, by contrast, points to greater centralisation through Artificial Intelligence. The phrase was coined by Klaus Schwab, head of the World Economic Forum in a book of the same name. His vision is one of close integration between humanity and AI systems even at a biological level.

Both Schwab and Rifkin offer visions that respond to impending crises that are very real.

Rifkin begins his lecture by noting the following epoch defining facts:

  1. Half of humanity is now better off than their ancestors before the industrial revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries
  2. …but 40% of the human race making $2 a day or less and are arguably worse off than their ancestors before the industrial revolutions.
  3. The very wealthy .. the 62 wealthiest humans own more accumulated wealth than that of the poorest 50% of the population.
  4. Climate change .. is never properly explained .. climate change changes the water cycles of the planet. Increasing temperatures mean more concentrated precipitation leading to unstable weather – storms, floods.
  5. We are in the 6th Extinction event. This is not a model. Over the next 7 decades we could lose half of the species now in existence.
  6. We need a new economic model. For both developing and industrialised nations.

The rest of the lecture is about how the distributive aspects of the Three Internets could provide the new economic model.

Between Light and Darkness

On some level that will not be appreciated by many it is true that we are caught up in a dance between forces of spiritual light and darkness and that our world will never be the same again. I fully understand that many people will consider me weird for talking in this way but I will do it anyway.

The issue, for me at least, is not about supporting or resisting lockdowns or other measures of control, or changes in our lifestyles .. its about whether our intentions are bent towards principles of justice, freedom, equality and love.

Many of us have had comfortable lives within the present order but it has been at the expense of those of us, globally, who have been excluded and exploited. The intention of the ‘dark forces’ is not a just, free, equal, compassionate world it is a world of oppressive control that is increasingly materialistic/mechanistic, one that is spiritually dead.

The intention of the ‘forces of light’ is that we should transcend our selfishness and separateness from each other, transcend the spiritual isolation of which the current physical isolation is a reflection and a consequence.

We have separated ourselves from the natural world, from our biomes and microbiomes, from Being and from other beings, and from acceptance of the natural cycles of life, growth, change and death. Through self-transcendence or selfishness-transcendence we will bring about a world that is aligned with the Will of God; a Kingdom of Heaven.

What world do you intend? This is important because the world that emerges for you depends on your intention and the world in which your world resides depends on our collective intentions.

Possible Futures

Some mornings I lie in bed browsing Facebook or Twitter and thoughts put themselves together in response to something I read. Having no reputation to lose I just post them.

There are genuine conspiracies I don’t know what allegations or speculations regarding particular conspiracies are true but at its core climate change is real and environmental collapse is humanity’s greatest and most existential challenge.

The recent Moore/Gibbs film does not deny the reality of climate change it questions the singular focus when the problem is multi-faceted environmental degradation driven by population growth and massive over-consumption of the Earth’s resources.

Planet of the Humans Clip from Gavin Sealey on Vimeo.

The limits to growth and the consequences of hitting those limits have four possible resolutions:

1. We continue on the same trajectory and there is a massive environmental catastrophe in which billions die in floods, fires and famines and global civilisation, perhaps even human life, ends.

2. A globally supported green new deal, premised on clean energy technologies and implemented wisely and justly by the world’s political systems, allows us to continue expanding population and consumption. Perhaps human ingenuity will build continent spanning sustainable megacities and colonies in space mining the asteroid belt and so on.

3. A global cabal of oligarchs take control of all governments through subversion of their structures and leaderships and control of populations through control of the media narrative and suppression of contrarian voices. This is facilitated by recurring or persistent pandemics and economic shut downs that essentially warehouse non-essential humans in high value (mainly white) populations and starve off non-essential humans in low value (brown and black) populations. Surveillance technologies, vaccines that create custom vulnerabilities and media manipulation limit and control the masses everywhere under systems of governance that resemble ‘1984’ or ‘Brave New World’ or some combination of the two with shades of ‘Bladerunner’.

4. The density of human interaction and conversation at global and local levels runs counter to the fear inducing narratives of the controlled media. A building ‘noospheric’ pressure results in individual and community ‘enlightenments’. A new humanity, ‘homo gestalt’ if you will, more conscious and connected, emerges and voluntarily and justly limits their own growth and consumption, establishing harmony on personal, interpersonal and planetary levels.

I’ve not ordered these scenarios in order of probability or desirability. I will say that two of them are consistent with our current trajectories while the other two both hang on a wing and a prayer.

We Need it Now

Without wishing to comment on RLB’s leadership aspirations, this is a good video highlighting the urgency of the issue of climate change. Credit to her and the lP for putting it squarely on the UK political agenda. The Labour Green New Deal is certainly significant at least as a contribution to thinking about the way that we need to transform politics, the economy and society.

See: https://www.labourgnd.uk/

At the end of the video RLB says “incremental change is not enough, we need a radical Green Agenda and we need it now”.

“Now” is the point; but Labour is not in power and is unlikely to be in power during the next five years. When the danger is as profound as that posed by climate change and, more widely, environmental degradation, the timetables of our current political structures are inadequate.

At a talk by Anatol Lieven that I attended yesterday evening (2nd March) Lieven, publicising his new book, spoke of the need for what he called ‘progressive nationalism’ to meet the challenge; he argued that both the people activism of Greta Thunberg and international agreements such as the Paris Accord, while important, would be futile without action by nation states. Lieven called on the spirit of national purpose that kept Britain together through the Blitz. I didn’t buy his book and have some concerns about concomitants of nationalism, ‘progressive’ or not, but he is correct in asserting that there has to be an awakening of a national will to change and he is correct in saying that ultimately only nation states can transform economies.

Challenged by a questioner Lieven was not optimistic that our political systems would be cmotivated to initiate the changes we need without some catastropic events to catalyse this.

Lieven is correct that the transformative changes we need can only be carried out by the nation state through existing political structures but we cannot wait for, nor afford, a catalysing catastrophy to motivate the state to change and we cannot trust the state or any political structure with the moral direction of such change.

We as citizens, as individuals, and as members of communities must become the catalysing change that forces governments to act.
We must work within our political parties, within pressure groups like XR and also within our other communities including our faith groups. We must build and keep building communities of conscience and consciousness, communicating in the digitial and the actual so that it is conscience and consciousness themselves that become the catalyst.

This is not a party political project. Political structures and governmental responses are essential but what we can and must do now must be to a larger degree politically agnostic, separate from party politics, and focused on raising consciousness, invoking conscience and building community.