Assessments of the Social Significance of Engineering and Research for Tomorrow.
Written in response to an article in a British scientific journal of 1976, about the British attitude to inventions, I have an unpublished letter dated 25.Sept.1976 in my file, of which some excerpts:
, and thus it was in 1943, that I became amazed that, at a time when a nation's survival was at stake, those, who assumed the role of assessing inventions, seemed quite unaware of the responsibility upon their shoulders, and seemed to place greater value on the smug satisfaction of obstructing and belittling the individual who had found solutions to a problem which others were not even searching for till the problem hit them in the face; thereby often making sure that the inventor's talents and other discoveries were not used and so lost to society and the Nation as well.
Out of curiosity I have since then (1943) tried to unravel this behaviour, in order to understand better human nature. Having solved the riddle I can now explain it. But that is beyond the scope of this letter and would require a separate article.
I can however say that I have come to the conclusion that humanity has now reached its zenith, and from now on will regress: notwithstanding further improvements in instruments of war, and gadgets like e.g. 3D Television, probably made abroad, on which you can see the victims of war or terrorism not only in true colour, but in full stereo, with the blood of the maimed and mutilated appearing to drip onto the carpet of your living-room floor, accompanied by the voice of the commentator coming out of the speakers with less than 0.01 percent distortion, in full HI FI surround-sound, of course.
To many people who regard the present difficulties as transient, and who point to the light at the end of the tunnel, I can only say: 'that light you see is not sunlight, but more likely the flash of atom-bombs, with the equivalent of 10 000 million tons of TNT, or - 22 000 000 000 000 lbs waiting to be used.' - A deserving outlook for a species which is daily becoming more callous, loathsome and mediocre, while the few exceptions, those who are kindhearted, and intelligent, feel out of place and out of control. ---- End.
Written in 1976. Yet, 12 years later, I see no cause for rejoicing.
If anything, I am now more convinced than ever before, of the futility of trying to change the direction in which mankind is moving. Hopefully, I am wrong, and therefore should not discourage anyone from 'having a go'. But before I say anymore, let me ask a few questions:-
Assuming that concerned people have, through the ages, tried to solve some of the problems that seem to recur, how come that, after thousands of years, we still seem to be stuck in the same groove? True, instead of pushing a knife, we now can push a button, and kill thousands in one go, and do so with a time delay so that we can manage to get home first, have a shower and then see the event in comfort on our Tele. Better still, some people can delegate the task to so-called heroes, while they themselves avoid the risk of getting damaged or suffering the discomfort of separation from family and familiar boozing place.
In 'Practical Electronics', Sept. 1982, by 'NEXUS', is printed an item about Push-Button War, ending with the following paragraph:
'From 3500 BC to the present day there have been 14,500 recorded wars and only 292 years of peace; according to Francis A. Beer in his book "Peace Against War". Thus, anyone willing to predict the outlook, would be on safe ground when forecasting a future with 'more of the same', as, evidently, progress on the road to permanent peace has not been outstanding.
The same lack of improvement is seen when looking at the problems of:
1) Crime, 2) Justice, 3) Equality, 4) Morality,
5) Understanding between the Sexes, between different age groups, races, colours, religeous beliefs,
6) Security of life and limb,
7) Security of the value of one's lifesavings, and of the retirement pension; and proper health care, on time, and, - following a lifetime of contributions - on terms as agreed when making the mutual commitment,
8) Prevention of cruelty to children, animals, and other 'weak' groups,
9) Right to political freedom, 10) Freedom of expression, etc., and so on and on.
Clearly, there ought to be more to civilization than merely using a knife and fork on a plate to eat with; and, with no real improvement in all of these major items of behaviour on a world-scale and in a time of thousands of years, one must conclude that:
Also, reliance on Engineering and Research for Tomorrow to do this job solely by improvements in the fields of Science and Technology, and any social spin-offs therefrom, has so-far not proved successful.
One of the hopeful contenders to help create a better world is thought to be >IT<, i.e. Information Technology, it having been assumed that when everyone has access to vast knowledge, we would all be so damn clever that no problem could resist being solved. Since >IT< is indeed one of those fields where future progress is likely to be enormous, and soon, - it may just be worth-while to take a closer look at not only the meaning of information, but also the basic laws and limits of human intelligence and reasoning power, which, it appears, - at least to me, - is vastly overrated.
As long as we cannot get this right and continue in our arrogant way to overrate human intelligence and brainpower as is presently done, and, - especially - ignore the degree by which interference by emotion and basic instincts corrupts what little reasoning power most people have, it is futile trying to do anything about all the other basic problems with which the human species is faced and which are, after all, merely due to the laws of 'Cause and Effect', i.e. are the sum total of what mankind does and is driven to do, by the powerful forces of its basic instincts.
Most people in this world are busy with their own lives, and, unless enormously rich, can do little about what goes on in the world. Most also are not interested until, - and only when, - some particular dreadful event is shown on the news, when, for a moment, they will feel concern, and will 'solve' the problem by expressing the famous words: 'Why doesn't someone do something about this?'
Expecting no real improvement, and having come to think after a life-long study of the subject that any change in basic human nature, as is required to create a better future, is unlikely to come about naturally, and, judging by the deadly resistance to any such change would also prove to be a thankless task to attempt, I am reluctant to get involved.
However, the notes which I have made over the years could be helpful for anyone prepared to 'have a go' and try to solve some of the problems that need solving. With that in mind I have so far not yet thrown them away, and can therefore produce a synopsis of this material. Lately the number of people who do express concern over our future has grown, and I may have underrated the interest in this subject, particularly at this time, when it has become apparent to many thoughtful people that mankind is at crossroads, with a future in the stars of else not much of a future on a possibly radio-active desert of our own making.
I will therefore, for the sake of those who really wish to see a better future for all of mankind, raise a number of points here, which are based upon a lifetime of observation and investigation, since 1943.
The first thing I found is that Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, when rating the sex-drive in the rank-order of instincts, put it too high on his list, when, in fact, it comes way down, behind other drives, for which some people will take much greater risks, and some at least, will readily face the challenge of death.
One such drive is the urge to assert the belief that the human species is superior to other species, i.e. it is special, and also therefore entitled to special treatment, regardless of the consequences to the rest of nature. And, to maintain this illusion against all odds, mnost people are ready to falsify or ignore every detail of information which might contradict this notion, especially such proven facts as the evident reasoning power and thinking ability of other animals.
Next down the list comes the thereto related drive, which simply focuses the main drive onto a smaller segment of mankind to 'believe' to be superior, or 'chosen'. This smaller segment can thus be any particular race, colour, nation, religion, group, down to a football club, street gang, and, eventually, individuals with the urge to emulate Hitler, Stalin; who then justify their 'superiority' by the success with which they manipulate others.
One way to put this in a nutshell, is the rude, but appropriate saying I coined to illustrate this fact, which goes as follows: "Most people fall into two groups, - those that want to piss on you, and those that want to lick your boots".
They will never cease taunting and challenging you to a showdown, regardless of the consequences to all, should you, much to their consternation, actually decide to accept and teach them a lesson. Some such people are only stopped when, finally, you consent to cutting their throat,- before they manage to cut yours. Interestingly, the number who make up these two groups is roughly the same throughout the whole of mankind, including all races and both sexes.
It is useful to divide all humans into 3 groups, equal in numbers but differing in degree of strength of their domineering instinct. Thus among every 3 people you meet, one will try to get on top of you, regardless of risk; a second will try, but only when the risk is low; the third will only try when you are 'known' as being inferior.
Another idea which I found incorrect, is the assumption that, being descended from the apes, humans are therefore linked to them in their behaviour pattern, when in fact many habits seem more to be paralleling the behaviour of ants; and, when observed through eyes like those of 'the little boy who had not been informed otherwise', - as told by the Danish Author Hans Christiasn Anderson in his fable: 'the emperor's invisible clothes', - humans, so I found, are best described as:
- "Two-legged 'Ants with Hands'".
Like the other ants, who take orders from their queen, most of the two-legged kind of 'Ants with Hands' likewise can be programmed to take orders from those individuals who have acquired the position and status of 'leaders'; who then defend their elevated position in the pecking order by delegating most inside fighting to those lower down the order, especially the males, feared also as potential rivals, and thence their death is an additional advantage, - as long as it does not weaken the group to the extent of actually thereby risking attack by any potential outside 'enemy'.
The length to which inside fighting for supremacy and survival of the ruling clique is sometimes taken, was demonstrated by Stalin, held responsible for the death of 19 million people in Russia, which, compared with the 20 million killed the Germans in WW2, is, give or take a million, the same number. This shows that any person is just as likely to die through action of their own ruling clique as (s)he is likely to die through enemy action.
And with the ruling group delegating most life-threatening fighting to others, there exists none of the natural balance that influences the decision-making of animals of other species who have to do their own fighting, and are therefore also aware of their personal risks. Hence the decision by birds to avoid conflict by singing is certainly more 'civilized' than the methods humans have chosen as a 'deterrent'.
Because this main instinct-drive involves much self-delusion and arrogance, practically all humans fall easy prey to various forms of flattery, especially where this confirms their own exaggerated idea of their value, especially vis-à-vis the 'enemy' of 'other' group, nation, race, colour etc. Important here is NOT that the 'other' is a Jew, a black, unemployed, homosexual, or foreign, but that (s)he is 'different' in a recognisable way, and, most importantly, WEAKER (or at least appears so).
To anyone, wanting to have confirmation of this, I suggest,-: Ask the Incas, - if you still find one,- or the last Tasmanian,- reported to have died recently,- of the Jews, or the Aborigines, or the native Red Indians of America, or the relatives of slaves who were deported from their homes to various other parts of the world,- by people who had one thing in common:- They had greater military power than their victims, and superior control of information.
This is why 'information' is so important, and that is why all information, except possibly the telephone directory, is suspect of having been produced with other purposes in mind apart from the direct use for which it is offered and thus, even if not deliberately false, then certainly 'slanted'. And when slanted or false information has been presented as 'true' for a sufficiently long time, then it becomes known and accepted as true; and any later statement which differs from it, even when more accurate, is treated with suspicion or outright hostility.
If 'information' is the key, then 'language' is the lock. One reason why humans have this arrogance of assuming to be 'superior', is due to this language facility, which permits exchange of information as well as instructions. Dogs have vastly better means of smell, and the dolphin an outstanding echo sound system for navigation and for 'seeing' under water. But while recognising these other examples of superior ability, they are not valued equally, and not credited with conferring a general superiority to these species.
However, language enables division of labour, and specialization, and thus advances knowledge of the group, beyond individual ability. Also, by recording in various ways the meaning conveyed by language, the limitation of the 'time factor' is removed, and knowledge gained by a genius centuries ago can now be built upon by others, creating a 'knowledge explosion' of immense value.
There is however a 'flip-side' to the value of language, not often realized. This is that solving a problem just by asking someone (or the computer) can save so much time and effort, that few people bother to use the original thought or reasoning, and survive, simply recalling tricks and data learned earlier and memorised. After years of this, 'post-school senility' results.
The more intelligent however learn a number of language tricks, which produce a lot of hot air without meaning, while obscuring the absence of a reasoned answer. However, it lubricates social contact, especially when what little grey matter exists is further prevented from functioning by being poisoned with alcohol.
Meanwhile, what started off as making sounds with a particular meaning has, over the milleniums, been developed into a highly complex science of dis-information, where an outright lie is only the crudest form of non-accuracy.
Complicated further by the fact that such 'sounds', which can range from pleasant noises such as music, to words without meaning or such meaning whose main purpose is to make the listener feel good, - such as humour, flattery, - are generally preferred by most listeners to accurate information. So too are outright lies, as long as these reinforce, complement or confirm earlier acquired dis-information. Thus many adults, once they have learned a few tricks to earn a living with, spend most of their life listening to and watching events which are mostly artificial, and stupefying.
While the power of speech on the one hand has made possible the kind of specialization and detail development in such fields as science and technology, with most progress due to and originated by a tiny proportion of humans such as one in every 300 000 of humans who actually, as a quirk of nature or chance development early in childhood managed not only to retain the ability of original thought and power of reasoning, and over the years of his youth further backed it up with knowledge acquired from others of the same kind - checked for accuracy and corrected for any occasional errors when necessary, - the rest of mankind is completely at the mercy of all sorts of 'information', regardless of its reliability and whichever way slanted, and knowledge which is predominantly second-hand.
Should this body of knowledge be destroyed or lost, then all of mankind would at once revert to the state of illiteracy of 10 000 years ago, and probably would need another 10 000 years again to reach the present plateau. Even now, due to mental laziness, many people are already a potential source of cannon fodder, a large consumer group for drugs, and 'readers' of what is called the tabloid press with its largely irrelevant 'information', including, always on page three, a special item which for many people apparently seems to be a recent discovery requiring to be reported and repeated on a daily basis.
Evidently this large section of the population cannot cope with anything which requires reasoning-powers they simply haven't got. Hence trying to treat them as rational and intelligent people is like trying to explain the laws of thermo-dynamics to a drunk in a disco bar whose attention has just been caught by a girl he fancies; and is as pointless as painting a sinking ship.
But just as a colour-blind person cannot be blamed for his failing, so this group of people has to be treated and their capabilities assessed in a rational way, and anything that is asked of them will have to take into account the limitations of this group.
This particularly applies to the question of how to deal with crime. Most so-called justice includes a strong component of revenge, and is hardly ever concerned with prevention. Its greatest weapon is the use of punishment as a deterrent. However, for a deterrent to work, the person committing the crime has to be able to visualize the possibility of being caught and weigh up the effect of the consequences. This however requires accurate information as well as the ability of imagination to comprehend, and develop a feeling for what the punishment entails, as well as the ability to think far ahead. It also requires a degree of self-control, the power to control natural instincts, and the strength to resist the influence of one's peer group as well as the effect of the influences of one's upbringing, and resistance against the bombardment with information' most of which is slanted as well as intended to influence the recipients in directions which, - to them - are not at all apparent. All of this is quite beyond the capabilities of large numbers of this group.
The inability to adjust behaviour with regard to the threat of future punishments or even simply future suffering is marvellously illustrated by the vast numbers of people taking up - often due to peer pressure,- such bad habits as smoking or taking of drugs, surely fully informed nowadays and hence fully aware that, once hooked, vast financial, social and health troubles are guaranteed to follow later, for many years to come. Only a prison sentence for life could equal that, and yet, they fall prey to these habits, in spite of this self-inflicted, permanent punishment. And if this certain outlook does not stop these people, why expect that the threat of a jail sentence which is far less certain since they may not get caught, could do it?
The fact that these matters are not rationally dealt with leaves only the suspicion, that those ruling circles are not only themselves incapable to comprehend, but, to a large degree, wish to create and maintain a sub-group of people who can be despised and are always available to be trodden upon. Indeed, all forms of discipline contain a strong component of provocation, taunting and challenge for relative position in the social pecking order, and form a fairly normal part of any interaction between males, and to a lesser degree, females.
Moreover, the supposedly fair application of the rule of law and justice is profoundly flawed, in that some groups are decidedly more likely to be punished harder and longer than others who have committed the same crime. This is particularly seen when one compares the punishment meted out to men compared to women for the same crime. And since this sort of thing has been going on for milleniums, it is most unlikely to be responsive to change at this time.
An 'easy' subject should be the concept of equality, since the very word itself cannot, one might think, be easily misunderstood in any language or context. Yet, when the feminists started their campaign, they managed to corrupt the very meaning of the word by confining it to one side only, instead of the proper meaning of equality of, or between two sides; thus showing ambition not for true equality between and for all people, but demanding 'equal rights' exclusively for women, meaning really the right to be more than equal.
After years of propaganda they have successfully created a 'guilt-complex' among men, and a 'myth' that women are supposedly less than equal, when in fact in practically all those areas which really matter and are important, it is the men who have less rights, - foremost of which is the right to live, as long, and with the same right to security of life and health, as women. The list of men's disadvantages is endless, yet so perfect has been the conditioning of men to accept this as normal that practically no one is aware of it. So strong is the mental block, refusing to even look at the subject, that only writing a book could do it justice.
I raise these points just to show, how even a concept as clearcut as equality can be slanted, distorted and corrupted, proving that language,- the most useful tool for achievement by man, and the means for understanding and the creation of a world at peace - is also the servant of the urge for power, the creation of elites and underdogs, and thus a major evil which detracts from the vast potential for good, which cooperation based upon understanding could provide for all of mankind.
However, with the present state of destructive power available to more and more people, as well as a whole new science of advanced methods of brainwashing and mental control compared to which the Nazi propaganda machine was a primitive toy, mankind may be heading for the stars, or risk returning to an age compared to which the past ice age may have been a picnic.
It is this challenge, which I find fascinating, and it makes me want to sit back and just watch. Being a person who enjoys scientific advances, - many expected by me to arrive from Japan - I can hardly contain my curiosity. However, parallel with such advances, there remain the age-old urges to form a rank order, classifying the 'inferior' and the 'superior'; with every advance utilized to win this permanent war, with the smart getting smarter, and the stupid increasing in numbers, - a process which is not easily amenable to change.
Given half a chance, two-thirds of humanity will endeavour to climb on your back and stay there, while half of these, i.e. the one-third of humanity forming the most domineering group, will, additionally, even try to make you pay for the privilege of carrying them, while fighting each other with the latest weaponry for booze, power, and the biggest back to hang-on to. Anyone ignoring this is indulging in wishful thinking and is doomed to fail.
When members of this elitist grtoup find themselves confronting weakness and the weak are in a 'no win' situation, and are generally ranked also by the other two-thirds of humanity as 'inferior beings', - even if this classification has been achieved only after years of propaganda,- then the usual checks and balances in most people to avoid pointless cruelty are often suppressed, and excesses such as seen in the Nazi concentration camps become a normal occurrence.
Sometimes the cruelty is justified by being disguised as a stern form of punishment, and in order to make that possible, the victim is often put into a situation wherein committing 'the crime' is simply unavoidable. Throughout the so-called civilized world, the application of the rule of 'law and order' to a considerable degree contains an element of this behaviour, also usually mixed - though always denied,- with a portion of revenge.
In cases of cruelty to animals in the pursuit of commercial gain or vanity, justification is not even attempted, although when caused by 'scientific' research, it is generally presented as an unavoidable and unfortunate necessity in order to save human life, although the real reason is mostly the vanity, and expected reward of a place in history for the scientist.
Unfortunately, there is no limit to the cruelty to which members of this group of the worst and most ruthless third of humanity will not stoop to make a profit, cater to their vanity, or enjoy a sport. This behaviour seen throughout recorded history, and much enjoyed by some, is unlikely to change.
However, the only thing I can see changing are the hats, which, in future, will have solar power collectors, a receiving dish for satellite transmission built-in, as well as tilt-up/down VDU/TV screens, and a set of phones: while future waist-belts will have provision for clip-on walk-mans, CD-mans, DAT-mans, TV receiver, telephone, navigation-aid with stored return-tracks from all selected boozers and playmate addresses to the wearer's home address, anti-roll/anti-booze personal stabilizer, anti-collision sonar with adjustable range and automatic home-door opener, radar, modem, digitizer, calculator, and main computer as well as additional spare clip-on capacity for further equipment presently in the R & D stage of development.
The computer will have an input for ambient weather data, as well as a sophisticated voice generator and store of commonly used sentences, and is designed to incorporate information derived from the weather data sensors in order to be able to hold a normal conversation about the weather whenever the anti-collision sonar detects the presence within range of another similarly equipped belt-wearer if British nationalty.
Especially trained humans with exceptionally high IQ's, who, when in school, were selected to attend for an extra third year of training, will be selected to attend for an extra third year of training, will be licenced to wear an override facility with which the voice generator of the computer's conversation circuitry can be temporarily spaced-out in order to permit the human wearer to insert some specially chosen memorable words and phrases of particular wisdom into the conversation pf the computers, such as: 'Golly! Wow!, Would you believe it! Not really! Amazing! What a coincidence!' etc., so that they can join-in whenever the computers discuss the weather. (British consumer version only.)
Meanwhile the wristwatch, further developed from the present stage, will also incorporate a microphone for voice operation of all computer functions, as well as a number of yet secret functions for which patent applications are presently in various stages of preparation.
Schooling, for most human children in future, will be reduced to normally 2 years only, with the whole first year devoted exclusively to teaching them to memorize their personal identity number so that they can repeat it unaided by their personal digital memory bank when requested to do so by any computer: and the whole second year will be devoted to learning how to operate the ON/OFF switch on any of their electronic equipment which is equipped with a manual override switch.
Girls, during their second year, will instead be taught to recognize which end of a baby to put the food in, in addition to how to operate the kitchen and boil an egg, unaided by prompting from their computer.
For the older and especially bright children and students with high IQ, and those selected for future Government service, there will be a voluntary third year of attendance at school, during which they will be taught to identify and reset automatic cut-outs on their equipment, identify batteries in a state of low charge, correctly replace failed light bulbs: and memorize and freely select a number of memorable words and phrases with which,- later in life - when so prompted by any computer engaged in conversation with another computer, they can occasionally join in and are thus given the synthesized artificial pleasure of feeling entitled to assume that they are enormously intelligent and 'in charge' of the whole world, and the destiny of their own life.
Heinz Lipschutz, 42 Fontygary Rd., Rhoose, Glam. CF62 3DS, Great Britain. 28 June 1988
+44 (0)1446 710 688
Typed by Ivor Catt, 12/23jan00.