Smart Cities or Wise Communities
Where is moral progress now?

 

Speech given by Loreena McKennitt at the Annual Fundraiser for Community Living Stratford and Area, at the Arden Park Hotel on May 17, 2017.

Thank you very much for that kind introduction.

I’m also very happy to be here with you this evening in support of Community Living Stratford (and Area) – an organization that has been doing such valuable work here for so many people and families since the mid-nineteen fifties.

I love singing “Come by the Hills” – a song whose melody goes far back in the Celtic tradition – the tradition that has been the great inspiration for my career.

And yet not, knowing if there were people tonight expecting me to sing rather than speak, I thought “Come by the Hills” would set a nice tone. By the end of my speech however, some would be forgiven if they thought it should be called “Run for the Hills…but we’ll come to that.

The words of that song create a kind of ideal world – they celebrate the best of days that any of us may have – the days when ‘the cares of tomorrow can wait’ as we embrace the simple joy of being ‘alive in nature’, where everything is so much in harmony that ‘life is a song’.

For all of us here this evening, we are grateful because we know that with the help and work of Community Living, people who may have been denied experiencing ‘the best of days’ because of a disability can now share those feelings. The doors of schools and homes that embrace their individual character and potential have swung open. Through Community Living, they can know the joy of ‘belonging’ in a community that cares and tries to bring the best for them – and the best ‘from them’.

For many of us that song also brings back images and memories of a simpler rural past when life was different than it is today.

That was a time when joys were, I think, more often shared within and among a community of people who knew and cared for each other.

Yes, people worked hard and life was not always kind, but I think many of us can still remember the stability that a sense of community gave us and remember sharing days when nature was in its glory and we might have felt -- as the lyric goes -- ‘life a song’.

I remember those feelings, growing up in a rural community, in a Manitoba town where – though life was never perfect -- we were lifted up by nature, and where there was a sense of caring for your neighbours and friends.

Our world is different now. And many would claim it is a better world. It’s a world, we are told, that is faster-moving, more efficient, more productive. It is a world where, on the face of it, we seem to lack-for-nothing, living in such a way that we can drive to the mall, to school , to work, and where we can get anything we’d like, made anywhere on the planet, oranges in January or persimmons in June.

And we know that now --- just by plugging in the latest in digital equipment – we can be connected from our kitchens or offices to anywhere in the world.

But I wonder, do all of these marvels of ‘connection’ – does this arrival of the so-called “Global Village” -- really mean that we are still connected to the people next door, to the families on our streets, or to individuals we might see who do have disabilities, and who might need our help.

And how often do we stop and think about what we may have lost.

The name ‘Community Living’ reminds us that many do care about their neighbours. It reminds how lucky we are to have organizations that care for those among us who need special care and support and love.

• • • • •

But what of our communities in general? What about the state of the global community and how does that impact us at a local level? Are we living in a way that the people in our communities can thrive and is sustainable for future generations, and is integrated into the natural world around us?

Or have we drifted so sorely off the mark of what we as a species are designed for and in so doing have brought the planet and everything with it to the brink of disaster?

I don’t wish to take too much of your time this evening, and if I do, I would like to apologise in advance, but I would like to offer myself as a guide through some of the challenges I see facing our communities at all levels and connect you to what some of the researchers and experts I’ve encountered along the way, are saying about where we are at and to where we might be going.

WHAT HISTORY, ANTHROPOLOGY AND ARCHAEOLOGY HAVE TO TEACH US

To begin with this evening, I thought I would share with you a living example of a dinosaur exhibit I am hoping to interest The Royal Ontario Museum. It’s me and my flip phone.

This antiquated piece of technology has been the source of fascination and the butt of many jokes over recent years as well as a launch pad into the discussion of the role of technology in our lives and in fact history itself.

When I was in high school, I didn’t really connect with history. But over the years, as I pursued the history of the Celts which took me all over Europe and into Asia Minor, focusing on peoples dating back to 500 BC, I came to realise the vital importance of history, archaeology and anthropology.

RONALD WRIGHT: ARCHAEOLOGY & HISTORY

In this way, I think of archaeologist, Ronald Wright, who is quoted as saying in his book A Short History of Progress that “archaeology is perhaps the best tool we have for looking ahead because it allows us a deep reading of the direction and momentum of our course through time: what we are, what we have come from; and therefore where we are most likely going.”

In his book, he explores human development and the various civilisations over time as one might examine the black boxes of aircraft which have gone down. He observes that we as a species have had a propensity to get ourselves into something he coins as “progress traps” and with wry observation, notes that each time history repeats itself, “the price goes up.”

In other words, by citing places like Easter Island, he describes our inability to see the big picture in the long run, and how we would mess up each location by denuding the landscape of trees and compromising its top soil, and that we as a species either died off or continued to move geographically onward to a “new world.” However, as he points out, the last New World is where we are living now and there is no more ‘New World’ on this planet. This devastation occurred by our species “sticking to entrenched beliefs and practices, robbing from the future to pay for the present, spending the last reserves of natural capital on a reckless binge of excess wealth and glory” (pg 79)

He suggests we may very well be in one of those progress traps now and the stakes are as high as they can get.

This line of optimism was recently picked up by some other big thinkers such as Stephen Hawking who believes we have about 100 years to get ourselves off to another planet …or of course, there is Tesla’s Elon Musk who has confessed that he finds it depressing that his life may never encompass a trip to Mars.

In his book A Short history of Progress, Mr Wright reflects on how even the meaning of the word “progress” has changed and I will quote somewhat extensively from this book as I think it central:

“That despite certain events of the 20th century, most people in the Western cultural tradition still believe in the Victorian ideal of progress, a belief succinctly defined by the historian Sidney Pollard in 1968 as: “the assumption that a pattern of change exists in the history of mankind….that it consists of irreversible changes in one direction only, and that this direction is toward improvement.”

Ronald Wright goes on to comment, “The very appearance on earth of creatures who can frame such a thought suggests that progress is a law of nature: the mammal is swifter than the reptile, the ape subtler than the Ox and man the cleverest of all.
“In other words, our technological culture measures human progress by technology: the club is better than the fist, the arrow better than the club, the bullet better than the arrow. We came to this belief for empirical reasons because it delivered.

Pollard notes that the idea of material progress is a very recent one, in the past three hundred years or so- coinciding closely with the rise of science and industry (and one might also add fossil fuels) and the corresponding decline of traditional beliefs. We no longer give much thought to moral progress- a prime concern of earlier times –except to assume that it goes hand in hand with the material.” (pg 4)

Finally, he goes on to relate this to the evolution of weapons, and I quote again: “Ever since the Chinese invented gunpowder, there has been progress in the making of bangs: from firecracker to the cannon, from petard to the highly explosive shell. And just when high explosives were reaching a state of perfection, progress found the infinitely bigger bang in the atom. But when the bang we can make can blow up our world, we have made rather too much progress.

Several of the scientists who created the atomic bomb recognized this in the 1940’s, telling politicians and others that the new weapons had to be destroyed. Albert Einstein would go on to say. “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything, save our modes of thinking” and a few years later, President Kennedy would say “ if mankind does not put an end to war, war will put an end to mankind.” Unquote.

For me, this was the first time I reflected on the rhetorical question, “Just because we can, should we?“

And I believe it has tremendous relevance for today.

One need not be an expert in history or any other field to know and realise, we are living in difficult times. We can feel it in ourselves, our families and in our communities. With the pace and scale of contemporary change, largely brought on since the poorly planned use of fossil fuels and by the impact of unfettered technology and consumerism, many of us are feeling stretched to the brink. We are bewildered as to who we are, what is going on, or how we got here, much less what should we do, be or why.

So Who are we and what is important to us ? And how does that inform where and how we as humans and communities evolve into the future?

I would imagine that many of us would say that if our families are happy and thriving, then we are relatively happy...Or we might attest on our dying bed, that it wasn’t our car, our house, our holidays or even our ‘smart’ phones which meant the most to us. Like myself, many are likely to say that their family, their friends and community stand as some of the most valued in their life’s course.

And yet, in the 21st century, we are severely challenged to define exactly what friendship, family and community mean.

ANTHROPOLOGY

The next part of my personal journey would take me to the world of anthropology, which caused me to question if we might have drifted quite far from our species’ physiological and anthropological sweet spot and that are trying to live far from our physiological, psychological and spiritual needs.
Too, I have wondered if we know more about the needs and habitat of polar bears and bald eagles, but have far less respect or appreciation for what we as a species need and how we fit into the natural world much less where we might be going.
A couple of years ago I heard a wonderful lecture by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, called Can the Internet buy you friends?

When speaking to a group of youth, Professor Dunbar, challenges their concept of friends as defined by Facebook. In his research on primates, he would discover that the physiological factor which predetermines a primate group size is their/our neo-cortex….that the ratio between the neo-cortex –the site of our highest brain functions– and our ‘group size’ is what determines the size of group for the best social relationships.

For dogs, the ideal pack size is around 50 and for elephants the preferred herds are larger still. For humans, he discovered the ideal group size is about 150….The size of an English or Tuscan village. (Or as I was recently reminded, the size of a battalion, squadron or ship’s company!) This principle is now widely accepted as the ‘Dunbar number’ and Malcolm Gladwell captures this fascinating fact in his best seller The Tipping Point.

When I read this, my mind went immediately back to my formative years in Morden, Manitoba a small town of approximately 3000 souls.

Along with my parents and both sets of grandparents, there were aunts and uncles and close family friends. We shared meals together, especially including traditional Sunday dinners; we met at various social gatherings, at variety nights, at dances or skating. As kids, we had paper routes and the run of the town, and of course, we were told not to come home until the street lights had come on. The concept of a ‘play date’ would have been as foreign as Mars.

The milk man lived with his family just down the street and many a morning my childhood slumber would be jostled by the tinkle of the milk bottles on the step as the streets and town life were slowly awakening. We would walk to school and back each day and our parents knew our teachers. Our teachers knew our parents, and home and school sang from the same song sheet as it pertained to discipline, attendance, and the curriculum. The teachers lived in the community, and we’d see them at the grocery store or at church.

As Robin Dunbar would explain, this village for the human species would feel comfortable, secure and accountable amongst people the inhabitants knew. Everyone had a vested interest in knowing about each other and helping out, wherever they could. With fewer financial and technological resources, there was a strong social cohesion with the neighbours and the village. The primal urge to ‘look after their own’ would take over. The proverbial adage ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ was more or less alive, well and intact”.

And to be honest, once I moved to Stratford, and even though the scale of the community was ten times the size of my home town, there were still strong vestiges of the sense of village and community here. This was where I wanted to live and be.
But I have learned that scale is not the only significant consideration when creating a healthy and thriving community designed for us as a species. Accessibility, diversity of land use, housing and proximity also play important role in urban design and our ability to feel like we belong.

Award-winning Canadian writer, Charles Montgomery goes on to look at these issues in his fascinating book called Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design. In his book he describes extensive research into the psychological impact created by architecture and urban design. He points out that at various stages along the way and more recently in the 1970’s and 80’s, town and city design in North America would take a turn away from the village.

The dominance of the car became prevalent, as we as a species started to experiment with many different modalities of living. The vast development and suburb model would take hold. By the 1980’s, gone were the corner stores, the local post office, and the sidewalks which would lead us to and from work, school, places of worship and the environments which facilitated our connectedness.

Car culture would now dominate. Day-to-day human contact was significantly reduced, as life became (supposedly) easier and more convenient.

And yet it wasn’t just architecture or urban design which may have taken a left turn in the 1980’s. According to clinical psychiatrist Dr Gordon Neufeld and Dr Gabor Mate, in their ground breaking book Hang onto your Kids, there was also a fundamental change in the way that parents related to their children.

Neufeld and Mate argue that in the context of the clinical terms of attachment and bonding which children have always had with their parents, grandparents and extended family, this attachment started to become unmoored around the end of the second world war, coinciding with the advent of television.

This early introduction of mass media, which, along with Leave it to Beaver, would bring sophisticated marketing for all manner of things including addictive substances such as cigarettes and sugar-laced foods. Today, the “Attention Merchants” as Tim Wu calls them in his recent book on the subject, have “upped the anti” through “smart” technology and “click bait.” The business now is all about eyeballs, and buying and selling big data…. our data.
Concurrent to this time, and as discussed in an excellent BBC radio series called “Your Money and your Life", banks made credit cards freely available and the average family became convinced that the Jones lived far better than they, and they started to aspire to and live beyond their means, leading to both parents working, while children were often left to fend for themselves with insufficient family or social support mechanisms.

In a CBC radio Ideas program, David Suzuki and former CIBC economist Jeff Rubin speak to the perils of our culture of overconsumption and how we need to redefine our concept of economy in relation to the environment. And connected to this, is the field of “behavior economics” as discussed in an episode of CBC’s program (Spark)

Now, it was not just the family and the village which had the children’s attention. Gone were the days when children tasted the raw edge of boredom and had to use their own imaginations and creative energies to entertain themselves. Parents and families, not equipped with media analysis training, got a sharp taste of the media invasion and all that came with that and which has only grown to this day.
Professor Henry Giroux of McMaster University argues that the very nature of youth, so often spoken of as ‘our future’ is being changed as they are being “carpet-bombed with consumer culture".

So, in this age of disruptive technologies, which has equipped us with terms such as ‘digital dementia,’ and ‘nature deficit disorder’ I hear so many parents and families lament that they don’t know what has hit them or their children.
Their adolescent children have not acquired vital person-to-person communications skills and along with incurring mental health challenges, the nature of their activities is shrouded in the secrecy of the on-line world and they find it hard to keep up. The CNN documentary Being Thirteen follows this in chilling detail.

For girls, it has come primarily through the instant and perpetual ‘connectedness’ provided by their 24/7 smart phones, often involving sexting, bullying and suicide.
For boys, it involves seeing their academic performance fall as their attraction and addiction to X-boxes, gaming devices grows , offering hours of so-called ‘playtime’ at a screen filled with heavy violent images and hard porn. The books Boys Adrift and Girls on the Edge by Dr Leonard Sax and Man Interrupted by Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Coulombe speak powerfully to this subject.

These parents are puzzled on how to sort the good from the bad, or on how to understand cause and effect when it comes to such issues as self-esteem, mental health, suicide and bullying.
I hear experts across a broad spectrum of professions who are speaking out with great concern, be they clinical psychiatrists, pediatricians, optometrists or medical doctors. They speak of afflictions involving vision, sleep, Type 2 diabetes, attention deficit disorder and endocrine system problems which can determine so much of our human development.
As Dr Arik Sigman speaks to in his 2013 report to the European Union, “this is not a cultural conversation about how children spend their leisure time” but rather,“...screen time has become a medical issue.”

Unfortunately, in this age of fake news and a plummeting of respect for science and research, many of these experts attest that they are not being heard or given standing in the community. And that the most significant and alarming fact, is that many of these devices are not only disruptive and destructive, but can be highly addictive.

Some argue that school boards and ministries of education have become main proponents of this high tech approach to education and hence enablers in the disruption of family life as spoken to in a recent Toronto Star article called “How Google took over the classroom”.

This is an interesting development in light of the that fact Bill Gates quite recently announced that he did not think children under the age of 14 should have smart phones….. or Steve Jobs, before he passed away, famously answered a question from a New York Times reporter, asking him what did his children think of the new ipad” by saying they wouldn’t know because they were banned in the house.

  • Teachers lament that they are forced to learn and incorporate the various technologies into the classroom and into the curriculum, (often without proper instruction themselves) only to sometimes abandon them;

  • or that they can’t compete with the action figures the children are consuming off-hours;

  • Curriculums are now prioritizing coding over cursive writing and hence a whole body of history and research is unavailable to a new generation of graduates who are now unable to sign their name

  • or that there is not a companion curriculum to educate and warn students and families about the perils of the internet, which include: pornography, fraud, cyber-hacking and bullying but is left to the random initiative of the teachers.

Small neighbourhood schools, which were once part of village life, have closed in the name of efficiencies, only for children to be bussed long distances, to schools five times that of Robin Dunbar’s small village and armed with their Smart phones as ways of now staying ‘connected’ with the parents who used to walk them to school.

School boards themselves have become mammoth operations which many parents find impenetrable and who, one worries, may be listening more to Google, Microsoft and Apple, instead of focusing on the growing body of research showing how disruptive and addictive this technology is.

It was informative that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) most recent report on technologies in schools, states that more technology does not necessarily mean better learning... and that “even countries which have invested heavily in information communication technologies, (ICT) have seen no noticeable improvement in their performances in PISA results for Math, Science and Reading.”

Indeed, an alternative to this high tech approach to education can be witnessed in various Waldorf/Steiner schools around the world, who have made the conscious decision to delay the introduction of any connection technologies until around Grade 8 and who have gone on to produce graduates who are Nobel Laureates, a CEO of American Express and a Prime Minister of Norway and in a twist of irony, gone on to work in many IT companies.

Just think about what other things could be done with an average school board’s IT budget! Which in this region is known to be in the range of 1.5 million dollars a year. Just think about this line item in our own city , county and provincial budgets.

So, when one pulls back and looks at this from the anthropological stand point as Drs Neufeld and Mate are doing, they argue, that for the first time in human history and since the advent of mass media and connection technologies, they are witnessing the complete migration of children’s attachment, formerly with their parents, now move to their children’s peers. If that is indeed the case, we now have children raising children. And parents and grandparents and people in authority have not standing in the children’s eyes.

• • • • •

So where do these technologies come from and who is behind the Silicon Valley’s kool-aid? After more than 20 years of this digital experimentation, there are now a growing body of books and documentaries available to give us a better profile of the industry which has set so much of our lives and industries upside down. They include books called Chaos Monkeys by Antonio Garcia Martinez or Disrupted by Dan Lyons or Irresistible: the Rise of Addictive Technology by Adam Atler.

In Ira Basin’s radio documentary The Valley of the Kings, he pulls back the curtain on Silicon Valleys’ latest gift to the world, the ‘sharing economy’, and the disarming language of ‘friend, like, connection, community, and do your own thing, making the world a better place...’

Some would say they are in the business of co-opting the language of the village, but delivering nothing but loneliness and alienation.

They have mastered a technological language of determinism which in any other setting would sound as if it belongs to a cult, by saying to all in society, “well this is the way things are going to be in the future, so get on board now, or be left out!”
Heeled by the sheer force and scale of the adoption of this technological ideology, individuals, school boards, parents, companies, organizations and governments have either surrendered to it or have jumped on this train to “who knows where,” in the belief it is the next gold rush and they don’t want to be left behind.

FAKE NEWS & POLITICAL INTERFERENCE

But Ira Basi asserts that when you look past these feel-good words, you get a glimpse of what is really in store – a future where tech wizards, not governments, make the rules as is heard in the BBC radio documentary (Default World).

I am reminded of this when we see the tight connection between some of our political leaders and the tech industry as at the recent World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland where Oxfam announced that the 8 richest men ….are as wealthy as half of humanity and at least 4 of these men are from the tech industry.

And in photo op of this event, in amongst the democratically-elected members of our western nations, are the tech stars from Silicon Valley such as Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

This very theme is picked up in a very frank opinion piece in this past Monday’s business section in the Globe & Mail ( May 15, 2017), by financial journalist Carl Mortished. It is called “The totalitarian capitalism of tech giants should trump your fears of populism.”

First, he describes the music industry’s collapse as a result of unfettered and unregulated technology as it went from a 20 billion dollar industry in 1999 to a 7.5 billion dollar industry in 2014. And where streaming sites such as Google Play, and Spotify now pay artists such as myself 10 cents per thousand plays.

Newspapers suffered a similar fate, as ad revenues fell from 66 billion in 2000 to 17 billion thanks to the role of Facebook users, as re-publishers and disseminators of free news, pirated news and of course, fake news proliferated.” (also CBC’ radio’s Sunday Edition What’s Not to Like about Facebook?)

And of course this is not to mention the fate of bricks and mortar retail and the human connection which came with that, as we are now invited to order-online and have it delivered by drones.

Describing a culture of monopoly, Mr Mortished refers to Pay-Pal founder Peter Thiel, and his “cultish devotion to Ayn Rand’s weird political philosophy of individualism and his projects to ….“end the process of aging”… might be seen as eccentric, if they didn’t fuel a perverse glorification of entrepreneurship as the solution to all the world’s problems.”
This is the industry which brags about their ‘disruptive innovations’ or as companies such as Uber like to put it, their ‘principled confrontation of the law’ and who invite their relatively few female employees who envision having families one day, to defer that life goal into their forties, as the company will, as part of its benefit package, pay for the freezing of their eggs.

Some days, it feels like we are in some bad science fiction movie, crossed with Orwell’s 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. One also wonders if we are like the frog in the boiling water ...we won’t know what has happened to us until it is too late.

Veteran news anchor, Ted Koppel in his book Lights Out warns communities such as ours of the vulnerability of our electrical and power infrastructure to the perils from North Korea, Russia or rogue operators who seek to bring down the electrical grid via our computers and everything with it.
And in this ilk of failures, we’ve already witnessed a wider DOS or denial of service disruption last fall in the US, facilitated by “smart” technology in homes such as baby monitors.

And of course, just last weekend many companies and countries around the world experienced their first ransomware attack whereby hackers were able to steal the data of these enterprises and individuals, only to be returned after a substantial monetary ransom was paid.
Which leads us to what some feel is the potential pinnacle of technological catastrophes in the making; that of artificial intelligence.

Not only does this quickly developing world involve the spectre of driverless cars and drones, but most alarmingly that of robots and their encroaching role in the most intimate and vulnerable settings of our homes and communities. Particularly that of caregivers.

It is now, not only within the boundaries of imagination or possibility, it is a reality playing itself out in certain parts of the world such as Japan and could come to a community near you and the very organization this evening is set out to celebrate.

Some in our society may be offered real human beings to care for them. Others, it may be argued are best served by robots. Those without means or a voice might only have one choice and through the argument of efficiencies, we know which that is likely to be.

For some, the mere suggestion of this will come as one of the most startling and outrageous notions they have heard of or can consider. And yet, it is the voice of the great scientist Stephen Hawking, confined to a wheel chair, who is raising one of the loudest voices of concern on this very subject.
He, along with others who service at the Centre for the Study of Existential risk in the UK warns that AI is the most serious existential risk facing our species at this time.
Not unlike the scientists of the 1940’s developing the atom bomb who felt the weapons needed to be destroyed, they are urging a urgent slowdown in this technological ‘star wars’ until we as a society can take stock of all the moral and ethical issues inherent in this landscape so that we might plot our paths out together (Centre for the Study of Existential Risk)
As Ronald Wright would put it, we may very well be in a progress trap now.

• • • • •

So why is this so relevant especially in the subject of discussing what a community is and what it should be?

One reason is that we observe from research such as that outlined in Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows: (What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains), that the human brain, the very organ which is needed to navigate through all the challenges of our time, is not only under attack, but is already in the process of changing its very physiology.

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe as others do, that there has been great merit in a lot of our recent technological advances. I use many of them. I drive a car, I use a computer. It has accomplished some remarkable things, especially in the areas of medicine and research. But perhaps it is about balance and choice…. and we as citizens of this community and of this planet, demand and deserve a voice in where this is all going before it is too late.

It may be time we have to choose between our smart cities or our wise communities. Connection technologies alone have pushed further and faster than laws and governments around the world have been able to keep up with, whether it has to do with privacy, fraud, pornography, copyright or cyber-security or tax evasion. And in the absence of public discourse and informed consent, they have pushed and continue to push our society and especially our families to the brink.
Unfettered technology has changed our village... our families and our communities.

In closing, although my summary conclusions of this journey so far have brought me to realise that we as a species may have gotten ourselves into a “bit of a spot,” as the British would say, I do remain with cautiously optimistic.

This optimism stems from the number of people and communities I have witnessed around the globe who are not necessarily only waiting for their governments to bring the correction from the top down, but rather are getting on with the job in their own lives and their own worlds.

In the world of urban design, there is much to be inspired by in countries in Scandinavia, or cities like Bogata, Columbia or Frieburg Germany, where a healthy balance of transportation is achieved between bicycles, streetcars and pedestrian walkways, which take precedent over cars, driverless or otherwise and are universally accessible.

Or through initiatives such as pocket communities as designed by architect Ross Chapin and others; or the evolution of sustainable and palliative care architecture; and the rediscovery and support for local markets and local food production and agricultural practices such as permaculture and bio-dynamic agriculture.

In the world of connection technologies and all that comes with them, the road is much harder and longer, but like any road to recovery, it begins with the sentiment Barack Obama made most famous. “Yes we can”.

This might mean that we must design our lives with much less connection technology until we have that grown-up global discussion about if and where it might take us, or not.. and to be able to stop and ask ourselves, which one wishes the atomic scientists could have done, “Just because we can, should we?”
We need to rediscover the sense of community which is truly inclusive of everyone, and through real life and personal interaction.

And in the course of doing so, we might re-discover our rightly place in the ecosystem of this planet and the holiness which comes from that.

Thank you and good evening.
 

POST SCRIPT:

Although there are an increasing number of articles and profiles on the lesser –known aspects of connection technologies, I do add a couple here which I think have some strong significance in the context of this speech. One was on the CBC radio program Spark.

The future of malware and the networked world

Facebook rules for content

Dr Demis Hassabis (AI researcher, neuroscientist, co-founder and CEO of DeepMind)

Those interested in sharing, joining or pursuing the Smart Cities-Wise Communities Project are invited to contact us at 800-361-7959 or at Box 933 Stratford , Ontario N5A 7M3 or via e-mail a postmaster@falstaff.ca or through The Stolen Child Project website of the Falstaff Family Centre.


 

CONTACT              PRIVACY             FALSTAFF FAMILY CENTRE              LOREENA MCKENNITT