Life was likely easier 150 years ago, but not in the way most people will think. Midway through the Victorian era is not often considered to be an epitome of modernity. There were no cars, no electricity, and life moved at a much slower pace. There were many negatives of this time period, at the tail end of the industrial revolution – overcrowded, noisy, and polluted cities, poor living conditions, mediocre levels of hygiene and healthcare. Technology came in the guise of coal powered engines, and mechanical things. People in rural areas lived closer to the land and had an understanding about maintaining a balance between human activity and nature. Somewhere we lost that balance as humans ploughed ahead with all manner of technology – things that were meant to improve our lives, but invariably have turned out to be quite the opposite. Cars, nuclear energy, computers – they have all made our lives different, but not necessarily better. Initial positive experiences have been marred by long-term consequences. Corporate agriculture, greed, exploitation to name but a few. Technology companies are no better. Where once we built things to last, now we build a throw-away society. One has to question whether the best solution to the malady that encompasses our planet would not be to turn the clock back 150-200 years. More local food, slower travel, slower (more mechanical) technology.
How can we even hope to evolve as humans if we consistently forsake that which surrounds us. There is enough to be learned from the world around us without the need to create artificial intelligence. Plant more trees, clean up the plastic in the oceans – it is not hard to do, and it can be done. More iPhones? Future generations can’t eat code, nor should they live in a world where the only animals they can interact with are virtual ones.