We are already changing nature and humans, for the worse and without being aware

From https://humanetech.com/podcast

Tristan Harris:

What is the way we want to be devoting our very limited choice-making capacity in a time of urgent challenges and when if we just let the past dictate the future, we’re screwed? I think to your point about we’ve always had this sort of manipulative nudging-like environment. I think the analogy here is for geoengineering. People say, “Oh my God, wait. We shouldn’t geoengineer.” I agree there’s huge risks and unintended consequences of the geoengineering. It’s not like we’re not geoengineering right now. We’re geoengineering ourselves towards catastrophe with climate change. We already have godlike technology or we are already gods. We might as well get good at it. If we’re geoengineering towards catastrophe, we might as well get conscious about our geoengineering and not do the self-destructive thing and see ourselves away from climate change.
When it comes to technology, if we are already reverse engineering the human psyche and getting certain outcomes and doing that in a way that leads to disempowerment, to mass social isolation, to teen mental health issues, to outrage-ification, to everyone wanting to become a celebrity, to election engineering. These are all sub-phenomena of an increasing ability to reverse engineer the human psyche. We’re using it in a way that is leading towards catastrophe. We are now forced to become morally aware of where we want this to go. And that’s an uncomfortable reality to be in because suddenly now we have to decide.

We must acknowledge we are already acting like gods over nature and ourselves. But we are acting as bad gods with terrible consequences. We need to turn ourselves into good gods with a huge responsability.

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And Genetics isn’t even mentioned here. Couple of days ago I saw part of the (very nice) documentary Genesis 2.0. In this documentary there is a tour of the futuristic BGI China National GeneBank building, which reminded me very much of Jurassic Park.

The genome of any species are now just Big Data that can be sequenced for well under 1,000 dollar. During the tour the guide was happily chatting about the possibilities of gene editing. But when one of the visitors brought up the topic of Ethics the tour guide only looked back with a blank stare. Clearly she had never ever heard of that word before. Very scary stuff.

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Kind of clueless and reckless gods at that. Like giving the keys to a truck to a four-year-old. The dangers of the Cold War never left us. It’s just taken on different forms.

A major collision between the aims of science and technology and the practices of indigenous culture is taking place on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. An excerpt from a description of the controversial project posted on Wikipedia:

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a proposed astronomical observatory with an extremely large telescope (ELT) that has become the source of controversy over its planned location on Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii in the US state of Hawaii. Construction of the TMT on land which is sacred to Native Hawaiian culture and religion [boldface added] attracted press coverage after October 2014, when construction was temporarily halted due to protests. While construction of the telescope was set to resume on April 2 and later on June 24, 2015, it was blocked by further protests each time. The Board of Land and Natural Resources approved the TMT project but the Supreme Court of Hawaii invalidated the building permits in December 2015, ruling that the board had not followed due process. On October 30, 2018, the Court approved the resumption of construction, and Hawaii Gov. David Ige announced that construction would resume the week of July 15, 2019.

Native Hawaiians calling themselves guardians of the sacred area—and their supporters—have assembled at the site. So here we have a case in which a natural area has had its character changed and been claimed for scientific purposes.

Over the weekend, University of Hawaii students, faculty, and staff received a message from the administration asking for respect and tolerance from all sides. UH has a strong, vocal Hawaiian studies program and a prestigious science program, which has brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in research funds.

Yesterday’s local newspaper had a front-page article on the expected confrontations among the native Hawaiian groups, law enforcement officers, and construction workers. A video posted on the paper’s website this morning showed protestors chanting in Hawaiian.

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An update on the situation can be found on the Hawaii Public Radio site. An estimated two dozen protestors have been arrested–the first such arrests since the protest began on Monday.

In this morning’s paper, writer Tom Peek said that the state government and the powerful construction industry have vested interests in the project.

https://www.staradvertiser.com/2019/07/17/editorial/island-voices/column-ige-acts-to-defend-tmts-false-narrative/

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This recent newspaper article describes the various research projects on hold because of the TMT protests.

https://www.staradvertiser.com/2019/07/20/hawaii-news/mauna-kea-astronomy-on-hold/

Yesterday’s paper had a good front-page article with the title “Kapu Aloha.” Here is the definition of the term found on Wikipedia:

A Kapu Aloha is an order of restraint placed by kahuna (Hawaiian priests) or other Hawaiian cultural practitioners, to act with only kindness, love and empathy. During the ceremonial period (enactment proceedings), alcohol, drugs and tobacco are prohibited. This separates the secular from the sacred and begins the ritual process collectively. Total purity is not attained but enacts a separation of ordinary life to mark the activities as sacred. Manulani Aluli Meyer, in a University of Hawaii panel discussion and commentary states: “A Kapu Aloha is a multidimensional concept and practice inspired by our kupuna. It has been used within a Hawaiian cultural context for many years”. The practice initiates a discipline to remain compassionate and for those involved to use only aloha towards others.

Due to an executive order issued by the governor, the protestors and other members of the public have been barred from the project site. As a result, the protestors have gathered at another site they have declared sacred and are continuing their efforts there. Kapu aloha is the principle governing their actions and behavior.

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I love hawaii unique culture. Its aloha spirit of mutual respect, getting along and taking care of each other. With the mainland USA and some parts of the world there is a resurgence of tribalism which is not in small part caused by social media. Humanity can learn something from Hawaii and the fragile world that we live in. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/28/opinion/sunday/racism-hawaii.html

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