The inspiration put down before us, a utopian goal. In my belief, if we can reach out all seven billion people the world over, and bring them onto a common knowledge and information platform, where they are able to empathise with beliefs, culture, values, systems of one another – we will end up making the world a better place. It would be the common language of humanity that everyone speaks. But seven billion is a number that is far greater than just counting the zeros involved. There are dynamics involved.
To start with, there are one set of people who speak English. Another set of people understand Spanish. And yet, Mandarin is the spoken by the maximum number of people in the world after English. And the largest English speaking country in the world is not England, but India. In a country, where English is not the mother tongue, but spoken widely. Then, there are countries in Western Europe, Eastern Europe which have diverse languages, cultures and beliefs.
Moving forward, there are economic differences that are influenced by culture and tradition. Oil producing countries in the middle east exhibit high rates of consumer spending, especially on luxury goods and services. While northern european regions, which are again selling oil show different cultural patterns. The Swedes show excellence in engineering prowess. Literacy levels in Norway soar. Even the perspective of how one can measure literacy can be very different. While in India, as of today, it is the individual’s ability to sign his or her name in native language that qualifies him or her as literate, while Norway has measurable statistics of per capita book borrowing from public libraries. And the numbers, if you’re not already aware, are way higher than what you can observe for a city like New York.
Then, there are differences in human behaviour owing to culture, tradition, social environments. For example, a country like France may not have been hugely impacted by the hi-tech gaming culture that was probably started by Atari and Nintendo during the 1980s, and continues with Farmville and Candy Crush in the age of Facebook. While on the other hand, the eastern economies that include Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore will provide high engagement numbers among the younger audiences. While, fashion and clothing remains the forte of the French and the Italian.
Beyond the differences that may exist due to language, culture and tradition, understanding and availability of technology, economic power and disposable income, there can be great differences due to social or physical security among people of a region. Women have been subjected to oppression in many regions of the world. Lack of education, poverty and social discrimination may have resulted in curbed aspirations among groups of people. We have seen how differently mobile phones have been used in different continents. MMS became popular in Europe while there are regions in the world using voice-based activation for e-commerce using standard 2G mobile telephony. For some people, the simplicity and availability of a regular 2G mobile connection is optimised to deliver every modern day service provided over the internet. We continue seeing examples where necessity is the mother of invention.
All this said, you cannot simply just use technology by whipping out an iPhone in front of each one of the seven billion people you want to reach, and telling them to read a message and imbibe it. People change and learn new cultures. In the earlier days, it became a social norm to update your status on Facebook about who you’re friends with, if you’re meeting them and where. Later, people started posting their relationship status, their marriage photographs and soon it came to selfies. So much so, there were photographers who would advertise themselves as master composers who would ensure you look great during your marriage ceremony among your friends on Facebook. And then, we got Instagram – giving psychologists all the room to rethink theories about narcissism.
How technology impacts human behaviour is very complex. Human beings possess the ability to think. Thus, the dynamics and mechanics of individual behaviour, group think and grapevine can influence political thinking, revolutions and liberal thought. Technology can free thinking in certain cultures – leading to social change in some places, while driving innovation in other regions. And let us not neglect, that the platform that will deliver to seven billion, will also need to provide inclusion for the one billion differently abled.
Ensuring the inclusion of every individual on the common platform of human knowledge may not necessarily be measured by simple numbers and arithmetic. Or complex tipping points and critical masses. But yes, the net result would be awakening, change and the change will be for a better world. When that happens, the inspiration would be realised. Change will cause a further rise in entropy, but the rising consciousness will result in increased realisation, awakening and peace. Knowledge will be available to all.