Jeremy Rifkin is announcing the Third Industrial Revolution and the Internet of Things Era. Digitalized renewable Energy Internet, a digitized automated Transportation and Logistics Internet and digitized communication Internet are behind it. Aubrey de Grey claims Eternal Life (Longeavity), saying there is no physically proved reason why we should die. His Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) approach is aimed at identifying all the components that cause human tissue to age, designing remedies for each and hence, pushing back death. Michio Kaku goes to the very depth of our Mind and pushing the frontiers of Human possibilities, where soon we may upload a human brain to the computer, communicate with each other through a brain-net and send our conciousness across the universe. Adam Greenfield is changing the mindset of human interaction with cities through his famous Human-Centered Design of Technological Systems initiative. Peter Diamandis prophecies Abundance instead of poverty based on exponential development of the Humankind and Ray Kurzweil completes the ball with groundbreaking Singularity concept. Are all these people bold? Yes, and for our sake.
I started with these prominent names and brave concepts to show what a Transformational period we are living in. I call this time Technology Renaissance. Exponential technology has a fantastic feature to liberate resources. Just a few decades ago the President of the USA had a worse phone then an average poor person in Africa. But the main beauty of technology is in the liberalisation of Human Creativity. With widely accessible knowledge and more & more resources liberating, our ability to create models - virtual realities - in our brains, combined with recent technology achievements, is enabling us to expand our horizons without limit. Technology accelerates things happening, brings transparency and scalability to every process it touches upon. Technology itself becomes the most complex form of thought and creative capabilities – it becomes our extension. For long time humanity has been creating technology. Now technology is creating us.
Why, then, Renaissance? Let's trace back to the XVth century and compare it to the modern times.
Firstly, all great Renaissance achievements are based on Antropocentrism, which is the interest to human and his perfomance. Human being was considered as Creator, godlike creature, born with infinite creative potential. Giotto is credited with firstly treating painting as a window into space. Leonardo paints “Vitruvian man” and explains the principal of “Golden Section”. Paracelsus and Vesalius make an attempt to study human constitution and processes occurring there, which marks the beginning of scientific medicine and anatomy. Dante writes his timeless “Divine Comedy” and Machiavelli creates “Governor”. Copernicus reveals heliocentric system of the world. Their personalities, their achievements do not just make a difference but bring the real disruption to the whole human world/open a new chapter in human development.
In the XXI century we can see the same thing happening: with the spread of information technologies and wireless communication many inventions arise, changing not just “the way we did before”, but the mindset of living. Facebook erases the boundries of space, allowing us to socialize freely all over the world despite the time and distance, Twitter brings opinions of millions of people to the limelight, thus influencing the whole countries destinies, Skype provides the same learning opportunities no matter if you are in the Ivy League classrooms or in a far away African village, AirBnB unleashes to us the concept of beneficial sharing which begins Sharing Economy. Such individuals as Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Burt Rutan, Jeffrey Bezos, Craig Venter alone make transformations to the whole industries approving how great and powerful a single mind can be.
Second feature of the Renaissance was that all philosophers of that time attached great importance to the Mind and its creative power. Wisdom was thought as a supreme good opened to any person and its comprehension through antique literature was the main tool to achieve it. Wisdom is a very close termin to conciousness. Today we are more and more talking about concious technologies, in particular, artificial intelligence. The explicit studies in neuroscience, bioengineering are getting us closer to the core program of all our activities – Mind. Leading world minds and institutes such as Singularity University, OpenAI, SRI International, Allenai, and many others announced the programs to study human brain and to make artificial intelligence benefit for the whole humanity.
Thirdly, Renaissance, as mentioned above, is about Disruption. This period gave birth to many brave research in various fields, which lead to deeper understanding of human nature and breakthrough ideas. Mechanics, Maths, Astronomy, Biology started to develop. It was a true challenge to push the boundries of the world and embrace it wider. Nowadays, we can observe the same - the whole industries being disrupted and re-thought in terms of their functioning. Private space research with recent Falcon success, hotel business & AirBnB, taxi industry & Uber, PayPal & finances, additive manufacturing are just few examples of massive transformation happening.
According to the founder of Xprize and the Singularity University co-fonder Peter Diamandis, 8 disruptive technologies flagging the Technology Renaissance and promoting the appearance of the whole new science fields: computational systems, networks and sensors, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, bioinformatics, additive manufacturing, nano-technology, human-machine interfaces and biomedical engineering. The exponential development of these technologies will soon enable humanity to experience what only the affluent have access to today. A “Brave New World” is appearing before your eyes.
The third specialty about Renaissance is that it gave birth to Humanism, which considers a human being as a Personality, with claiming freedom, perfomance, creativity as its highest values. The rise of Humanism is dealt directly with a widespread of art and science centers, emergence of joint creative workshops. All these institutions are being founded by individuals out of church control – the main political institution of that time. An amazing example is a creative workshop of a Holland genius Van der Weight who painted some of his chedeuvers with young painters assisting him while working, which was an unprecedential case for the XVth century. The significance of the period is also attached to the encouragemnt of collaborative team work on big endeavors.
The beginning of XXI century marks Creativity as a natural human neccessity to create; it is Something that awaits its appearance in the world. This idea is described rather clearly in Richard Florida’s concept of creative cities and John Hawkins “Creative Economy”. Creativity boosted the start of Do-It-Yourself revolution about 50 years ago, which during the latest 5-10 turns into Making Boom. Small maker communities invent solutions which previously were only subservient only to large corporations and entire governments. A wave of coworking centers and fablabs for co-creation and collaboration is ongoing in many geographies. Initially, their idea has also come from communities and people with vision and passion to make a difference to the world we are living in. And as during the Renaissance time the key principles of working become creativity, collaboration, analytical thinking and leadership.
And the last similarity is, that this Renaissance presented a facial appearance of a massive amount of information. As Fredrickh Engels said “One of the biggest challenges of that epoche was to cope with all the information arised and to turn to knowledge.” That same situation we can see now - in the last 2-3 years 80% of all the information ever being known has come into the world! - in the form of Big Data. The grandest challenge for us nowdays is to cope up with this information on a reasonable basis, to find a way to embrace it and make it enhance us.
As can be seen, this unprecedential combination of human creative potential and technology acceleration marks a transformational event in human history. We can leverage our creative power through technology to enormously impact the world individually, staying, however, in a single extended human family.
Technology releases our creative potential, pushing us to understand how great and powerful we can be.We should not let technology outshine us, we should use it to enhance us and open our unlimited levels of intelligence, knowledge, creativity, beauty and love. Many people divide technology and human beings. Seeing technology as something “different” , like it comes out of nowhere or created not by a human. (It reminds us of a child’s tale when children are brought to parents by storks). Humans and nobody else create technologies. The same as we cook food and then eat it, sew clothes and then wear it, produce any other things and then use them in this or that way. Technology is not the other thing coming out of nowhere, it is our Continuation of Things. We should not be afraid of it. We should find a way to collaborate with technology as we do with our friends and colleagues. This is where we truly become ‘one’ with technology - when we embrace it, comprehend it, and encompass it into our daily lives and understand WE are the technology, and the technology is us. This is where Human Transformation begins.