Our Increasing Dependence

For the majority of people, they can see their lives are getting increasingly easier due to technological advances. These are the more obvious signs of the growth of the wider societal systems. Due to previous generations progress and building our foundational infrastructure, our systems have reached their current size and power. The average person can now live better than even rulers of the past. Our systems now even offer to do the thinking for us. In return, they demand our increasing dependence upon them. When they break down our vulnerability is greater than before we had them due not learning the knowledge to exist without them. An example would be the breakdown of the modern food supply network that relies on daily delivery. This would have dire consequences quickly with so few people growing any food themselves. Questions about the sustainability and intentions behind all these systems remain unanswered. From the consequences that we can see it is clear that serious problems are developing.

Big Tech Thrives On Dependence

Facebook wants to be your one stop shop. It only tolerates the fact that individuals will go off the site. Once they leave, it follows them with cookies and other sneaky tricks to keep feeding its database. Ideally, you would talk to your friends and family on Facebook and not on other services. Your news would also come from Facebook along with any other activities you could want to use a digital service for. Even if activity could be done in person Facebook encourages that you use their platform instead. A group meeting could occur together in real life or it could be done with Facebook groups. Family members could call each other or meet up but instead, comment on each other’s Facebook posts. With all your free time Facebook wants you to be in its eco system.

It is not unique out of the big tech companies for wanting this. It is why they pay so much to work out how to get people more addicted to their products and creates new schemes to keep them. By buying up any other promising apps it keeps its hold over the users. A new trick is also to work together to destroy alt tech competitors. Google has worked to get itself into users lives in as many different ways as possible. People can now be dependent on two to three companies for their lights, schedules, communication and more. Dependence is always being sort by these companies and is a core part of their business model.

The Government is a system

Governments are one of the largest and most powerful systems in our lives. While the United States was established to have a limited government that was kept out of its citizens private lives it has grown massively. In Europe, the situation is only more extreme, with governments having increasing power. With complicated and often scary problems the temptation to launch another massive government program is strong for elected representatives who wish to impress voters. Our systems allow us an unprecedented understanding to the risk that we are faced with. This increase in information creates the feeling that it should be controlled and dealt with. As one of the most powerful and vast forces, the government is seen as a solution to bring control in. However to get this control the government systems supplant the natural ones meaning that people care more about the artificial reality that is created then what is actually happening.

A system created by humans instead of a natural one does not remove the power but instead shapes it in new ways. These new rules are learned by citizens and companies who work in them. Expectations are developed about what the environment will be despite it being different from the natural state. Governments do not want to highlight risks and vulnerabilities. It is also very hard for those in these systems from birth to prepare or understand how much of what they interact with is different to the natural state. When government systems collapse or are disrupted the more the system was away from reality the harder the snap back is felt. Even if the natural conditions are not harsh, mismanagement and delusion can leave an environment devastated with people unprepared for survival or dealing with this challenge. It is often made out to be ridiculous to think that the most powerful system in our society, the government can collapse or be disrupted. This belief in the infallibility of the government breaks down when you look at recent history. Hurricane Katrina and the collapse of the Soviet Union demonstrate like other systems reality can kick in with a great deal of force.

A lot more energy is being put into preventing the systems from collapsing. A chance of a major collapse of any major system is much lower then in the past when what was happening was much less understood. Yet the fortification of essential systems in our society against both digital and conventional attacks has not really occurred. This could be due to a underestimation of those who would seek to bring down our systems or a mistaken belief that there are no major vulnerabilities. With our reliance only increasing this seems to be a foolish position.

If efforts are not taken to decrease our dependence on the major systems that are running most of our lives, then it will only take one disruption to cause major consequences. No system is perfect so it is not a matter of if, but instead a matter of when a critical system will have a major issue occur. At that point we can only hope that some knowledge of how to function without these well established systems is still around or that the issue is resolved very quickly. On a individual basis we should strive to always keep a certain level of independence. Otherwise we delegate the responsibility of our survival to code and monopolies.