How do we measure up?

They are watching and listening

The trends in technology and corporatization are challenging all of humankind to fight for creativity, privacy and the freedom to be more than the sum of our parts.

We may be losing this war!

The recent uncovering of the extensive surveillance of our personal computer files has opened the door to our fears. Ironically, in opinion poll after opinion poll, the majority of Americans fear issues of security more than they fear issues of the loss of privacy. But, we may not understand the true nature of the new age of surveillance and information gathering.

A friend of mine said, “What do I care if they know everything I do?” Through our cell phones and our computers and the extensive digital and paper trail we leave through banks and taxes and credit cards, information about you and me is the most valuable commodity in our society. They know what we eat, what clothes we wear, our likes and our dislikes, our friends and our loves. They even know I am writing this column. They are evaluating and assessing and attempting to determine our decisions and outcomes before they happen. Their goal is nothing less than predicting our every move and measuring our chances of success in all aspects of our lives. This is in part an outgrowth of the more recent business culture of impacts and outcomes as promoted by the world of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

Who is they, you might ask!  Verizon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, other social media and corporations interested in buying information for the purposes of selling their goods and services to you and me. Futurists predict a world with decreasing problems of war, poverty, misery and disease. Futurists also predict a world where mobility in terms of class is more difficult. Our ability to improve our lives will be totally based on access and use of technology.  As Janis Joplin sang, “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” We may be losing our freedom and not even realizing it until it’s gone.

Remember the height charts in our homes to keep track of our children’s growth?  It was often in a doorway.  A pencil slash for Ann’s height at 4 and 6 and 8 and 10 and often ended before we reached our teen years.  A comparison with her brother Steve who was two years younger but by the age of 12 shot up as boys sometimes do. It was a nice way of following our children’s growth.

Today, technology and science can almost predict everything about our children and their future. Or have technology and science reached a level of sophistication where the measurements of impacts and outcomes actually play a role in creating our future?

Are we more than the sum of our measurements? Is there still room for the surprises of creativity and beauty and the natural wonders of the universe?  Can a young person born in poverty become the next Van Gogh or Rembrandt or Whitman even when the measurements predict otherwise?

I for one am betting on the power of the human spirit and the magic and the science of an amazing universe.

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