Zenith of Humanity’s Collective Intelligence

By Samar Pant

Can we, in all honesty, stake the claim that humanity’s collective intelligence has reached its zenith? Like the flag planted on the Moon, a testament to humanity’s breakthrough in space travel, could we plant a flag on the highest peak of intelligence and knowledge? We are, after all, living in an age where kids have access to voluminous amounts of knowledge, right on their fingertips. We are living in an age where entire populations have greater access to knowledge than ever before. 

To state the obvious, I am referring to the internet. But despite having access to so much knowledge, are we putting this to best use?

Here’s what I am getting at: We have so much “power” on our fingertips, but do we use it in the most optimal way possible. Alright, I do it, too. I watch silly cat videos and kids being total knobs (any Hasbullah and Abdu Rozik fans here?) I need entertainment and the internet is there for me. But for the last few years, the curious side of me, just like I suspect it is for billions of you, has been hungering for knowledge. From art to science, I am interested in learning and growing as a human being. But perhaps I could do more of that and less of watching cats on youtube. 

I think this is an important discussion, because our future might depend on it.

Seriously, take global warming, for instance. There is a plethora of knowledge available on the internet. Yet, to the best of my recollection, not every human being is onboard with this. In fact, some downright think it’s non-existent. And that’s the second danger, accessing wrong information. What if I told you there is a man on youtube who claims dinosaurs never existed? He sounds pretty convincing, too, especially if you are new to the topic. Or people who claim entropy is consistent with the existence of god? That guy sounds pretty convincing, too. And so does the guy saying Covid isn’t real

See, that’s the thing. We have access to an unbridled flow of knowledge, yet we need to work on deciphering the accurate from the lie. We need to work on spotting the facts and the fiction. 

And how about state controlled internet. In nations like China and perhaps few others, certain websites are blocked, so netizens have to use Virtual Private Network (VPNs) to get around this. But if you don’t have that, you are left choosing what the government deems appropriate as a source of knowledge leading to the formation of particular opinions or even brainwashing. 

So, clearly we have challenges to deal with when it comes to using the internet. But 21st century problems require 21st century solutions. Where there is disinformation, we counter that with reliable information. Where there is state control of the internet, we used tools like VPNs. As for the cat videos, well, we just need to be cognisant of how much time we spend doing that and actively participate in gathering knowledge on the net. 

Photo courtesy pexel.com/pixabay

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