Digital Human Risk (BBC Radio 4 Show)

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I have to admit to not actually having the time to sit and listen to the aired show itself,, however I did get to hear a snipped sampler on the station.  I felt compelled to address the seemingly blatant mistake I heard in the advert “Humans have had the same risk digital makeup for 200,000 years.” Paraphrasing, statement based upon the Darwinian evolution.

I see two challenges with this notion or claim and will address the more challenging and obtuse of the two.

Challenge number 1.

For the past “200,000” years mankind has observed fellow humans as well as other living creatures in order to ascertain the level of risk in any one instance as well as handed down verbal and then written rules such as which berry’s one can eat safely and which one can’t.  This has been a standard survival technique which has help mankind in good stead for many many years throughout our history.  The very story of how the Ethiopian goat herder managed to discover the use of coffee we still use today, this story begins with the goat herder observing the goat eating coffee beans from a bush, the herder observed the goat had a positive but strange reaction to these beans yet it did not kill or hard the creature.  The farmer then collected the beans and then experimented with the use of the beans and eventually through trial and error discovered that roasting these beans and then drinking them in hot boiled water was the best use for them.

This story to me sums up a history of human discovery regarding taste, nutrients, toxins, poison and medicine.  When considering this story and the long-term use of its basic principles we find that in this modern era mankind becoming less and less Digital Risk evolution but if anything a form of “devolution”.  I explain this further in the coming paragraphs.

There is no doubt in a modern era of media that we can sit and watch all forms of High Risk factor activities and lifestyles which display not a continuous Digital Human Risk but a modern human that flies in the face of previous risks.  I take this moment to list a few modern Risks that our forefathers would have held in a high daily risk level which we no longer do:

  • Poisons
  • Deity
  • Heights
  • Injuries
  • Homelessness
  • Starvation

I will expand on these as I continue to explain myself.

Kwakiutl-people-some-bowing-before-totem-poles-in-background-others-seated-facing-front-as-part-of-the-nunhlim-ceremony-the-four-days-prior-to-the-Winter-DanceWhen we watch our world around us we have access to more and more information through the media, the web, the school system etc. and in each case an excess amount to warnings from our society in the ways of the past such as verbal and written warnings regarding foods that are “poisonous” or harmful to human existence yet in receiving these warnings and seeing the end results of their use we see a blatant ignorance towards the Risks.  We are reminded at this instance of the historical relevance of deities in most societies around the globe.   These deities came with multiple Risk factors including punishment, disease, hell, human punishment and outcast yet in today’s society this is no longer a known Risk factor.  We look at Heights and see an increase in taller and taller buildings, we see more and more flights where the risks become less and less and thus modern passengers are losing the fear of flying, we see more and more extreme sports which include plummeting from great heights etc.

As modern medicine increases in its abilities we find humans less and less Risk aware due to the ability to correct and fix the results of otherwise poor choices i.e. a shellfish allergy sufferer being aware that they can obtain a shot or over the counter medicine which with resolve their otherwise High Risk situation when they eat a Crab.

Today we have increased Risk concerns which many of early humans would not have been so concerned about if at all such as losing a job or being made homeless after all you could build your own home or move into another cave.  However today losing a home literally means becoming homeless and this comes with a High Risk fear that early man would not have suffered with.

Starvation was my final listed observation. in a modern society we are discovering more and more ways in order to keep the world in food supply as well as the new possibility of not even needing food as we understand food from the past.  Today we are nearly at the point where you can maintain human existence using a vitamin pill and a man-made filler which will tackle both hunger and health without the need for food and the Risk that would come with famine.

I am only touching on each subject lightly to open doors of thought that are contrary to that which are being currently presented in order to further discussion and perhaps change an otherwise widely accepted fact.

With regard to poison I take up this subheading as my main argument that proves that Risk has not remained the same over the last 200,000 years, in fact it may have evolved/devolved in the last 300 years or as soon as the last 100 years since the industrial revolution.

We hear the notion of poison pumped across our media almost every hour of every day in this new era from our poisoned harmful diets to smoking and global warming or pollution.  You can not get away from these poisonous ramblings and documentaries today and yet have the Risk that early man learned to avoid been lost today?  I would argue to an alarming rate.  We haven’t done what usually Risk assessment would do which is fight or flight, in fact we seem to embrace those risks as part of progress.  If eating a berry 1000 years ago was known to harm you or kill you you would not only avoid it but the whole society would encourage avoiding it also.  Today we may tell someone to avoid high fat foods such as junk food and yet we find 70% of the society eating those “poisonous” foods regardless, thus ignoring the Risk thus devolving.

fire-fighterModern society has found all sorts of ways to reduce human risks which in turn has numbed the healthy fears which alert us to those risks such as modern fire-proof clothing for firefighters who now see less risk of fire itself and more risk in falling debris from buildings as they are able to spend longer inside of buildings than before, until such a time as a Fireman’s suit can also be starched to a level that a falling building will not squash them underneath which will then reduce these Digital Human Risks.

We know that the lifestyle and pollution of modern city life is not conducive to the survival and healthy existence of humanity yet we are all encouraged to flee the country life and run for the concrete hills which fly’s in the face of the Risk factor of a Digital Human from the last 200,000 years.

careercaveman_viaTheOilDrumWe only need to look at what mankind has done in the last 100 years since the industrial resolution, wars etc.  I mentioned wars and realise there has always been wars however modern wars used modern weapons, modern weapons put the very existence of modern civilization at risk as a whole, again the risk was ignored or simply wasn’t there as we dropped and developed Nuclear weapons, poisoned entire water systems etc.  Add this with the industrial revolution and it’s pollution and the destruction of Rainforests etc which sustain our very existence, did we all stop our progress into the modern computer era or did we all run out and buy the new IPhone while eating our McDonalds?  It seems today we no longer concern ourselves with Digital Human risks of the past, quite the contrary we seem to have swapped our Risk of poison for our Risk of not having the latest Android.

Humans have evolved from no fear of cancer as humans were unaware of such am illness, to having a fear of cancer once they became aware yet had no cure and when a modern cure can be found that fear will then disappear once more.

Then you have those extremely religious types who believe in different aspects to human life such as an afterlife which instantly changes their Digital Human Risk factors such as not seeing death as a risk or war as a risk, a good example of this was in the Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were supposedly cast in the fire yet never got burned.  They were not only seeing a higher risk in offending God and thus seeing no risk in fire and death but after they survived the fire what of all those humans especially themselves and their Risk of fire?

To conclude I would say that our Digital Human Risks have very much changed however not evolving based under Darwinian evolutions survival of the fittest and its desire to avoid high risk situations, in fact those digital human risk factors are devolving as we are flying in the face of those ancient risks while embracing new modern risks which are irrelevant to our survival and merely a fabrication of true risk.

We must bear in mind that a baby is only born with 2 instincts of fear and these being loud noise and falling, Risk is more often born out of fear so this discussion could expand into avenues of Risk is learned thus not evolved, risk is relative i.e. a deaf baby wont fear loud noises and see no risk involved with it.  We could argue why have we evolved a fear of falling when most civilizations live away from any heights and why would a baby need to fear falling when they will never climb a tree?  Why is a fear of falling not taught or developed over time?

I hope that if you did catch the show that this blog will challenge it and you to think further about it, perhaps every provoke real risk if it is not something we evolve but merely something we are taught.

I know what you’re thinking, What about his second point?  I will leave you with this one other argument that is less relevant yet a fun discussion, how do we know these risks have been a part of Digital Humans for 200,000 years when it is possible humans never existed further than 7000 years ago considering there is no records of “modern humans records” predating earliest civilizations such as Egypt, Cush, Ethiopia, Greeks, Asia as all other evidence is not recorded but simply implied.  But that is another discussion all together.

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