Mankind’s Forward March

Posted on July 15, 2017 by Robert Ringer Comments (41)

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You’ve probably heard of Ray Kurzweil, the remarkable inventor/futurist. Among other things, Kurzweil, a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, developed the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind.

Listening to Kurzweil in a recent television appearance, the thought crossed my mind how geniuses like him appear to be able to transcend the dispersed-attention garbage that you and I allow to saturate our brains day in and day out, e.g., dumbed-down infomercials … round-the-clock sports on TV … childish global-warming proclamations … the theatrical ramblings of politicians … news flashes about wacky Hollywood celebs who weigh in with their low-information views on topics they know nothing about.

Further, most of the things people think about, fret about, and argue about don’t really matter much in the long run. Over the past century, we’ve survived a rash of bad presidents and criminal politicians, unthinkable natural disasters, the Great Depression, and world wars (along with a few little skirmishes like Vietnam). Yet, through it all, humankind has stubbornly found ways to keep pushing forward.

I believe that one of the biggest reasons for mankind’s penchant for surviving is that those on the leading edge of civilization tend not to be distracted by the nonsensical stuff that mesmerizes the masses. Of course, when I say we’ve survived, I’m talking only on a macro basis. But on a micro basis, those who happen to be living in the wrong place at the wrong time can suffer a great deal of pain and suffering.

The Soviet Union is the best recent example of this. It was only a matter of time until the lie of communism collapsed under its own weight, but for 70 years hundreds of millions of people suffered and tens of millions died.

The same was true of Hitler’s Germany, Saddam’s Iraq, Mao’s China, and now Assad’s Syria. But what’s interesting is how, notwithstanding government’s best efforts to slow human progress, the best and the brightest keep moving mankind forward.

As a result of the exponential progression of information technology, Kurzweil says that the acceleration in the rate of progress itself is now doubling every decade. In fact, he believes we will experience thirty-two times as much technical progress in the next fifty years as we’ve seen in the last century! It’s difficult for a guy like me, whose neurons shut down at the thought of learning how to load an app onto my iPhone, to wrap my mind around such a mind-boggling statement.

Kurzweil says that when he first came to MIT, the school had only one computer. It took up an entire floor and cost more than $10 million. Now, the computer in a $50 cellphone is thousands of times more powerful than that MIT dinosaur. Which is why he believes we will see a billionfold — that’s right, billionfold — improvement in information technology over the next twenty-five years … and then, in the years that follow, we’ll see it again … and again … and again.

I could go on and on about Ray Kurzweil’s amazing inventions, knowledge, and insights into the future, but the biggest of all his predictions is that due to advances in nanotechnology, we will soon be able to produce highly efficient, lightweight, inexpensive solar panels. As a result, he is all but certain that solar power will provide 100 percent of the world’s energy needs within 20 years — easily and inexpensively. He points out that the sun provides us with 10,000 times more sunlight than we need to accomplish this.

If Kurzweil is right, it not only will put a damper on draconian save-the-planet ideologies aimed at increasing control over people’s lives, it will actually change the balance of political power worldwide. It will also mean that millions of hours have been (and will be) wasted on debating whether or not to drill through the hides of caribou or dig up our trillions of tons of coal and convert it to oil.

All this reminds me of something that another great futurist, the late Alvin Toffler, said in his landmark book Future Shock. Toffler believed that at any given time in history, about 90 percent of the population thinks in terms of the past, 7-8 percent are focused on the present, and 2-3 percent are focused on the future. And it’s this 2-3 percent that keeps mankind marching relentlessly forward, while there average person has no clue.

When you look back on just the past 10,000 years, the evidence is clear: Human progress accelerates, notwithstanding little inconveniences such as famines, disease, natural disasters, and asteroids periodically paying their respects to Planet Earth.

In the coming decades, I believe the United States will be a totally different place than it is today. It may even have to go through a dictator or two … perhaps even a couple of revolutions. But the scientific brains and futuristic thinkers don’t seem to pay much attention to politics and social upheaval. They just keep moving forward as though nothing were going on around them. (Think Albert Einstein.)

Nevertheless, the big question that is the same one that has challenged mankind throughout human history: What good does human progress do in fields such as computer technology, medicine, and energy if there continues to be no human progress in the areas of morality and goodwill?

Worse, glowing futuristic predictions aside, the thought of ever-greater technology joining forces with ever-greater malice (Putin, Assad, Isis, Kim Jung-un, et al) makes it pretty difficult to envision a happy ending to the history of the human race. Of course, if there were a way to rid the world of those who are hell bent on trying to control the thoughts and actions of others, I’d be a lot more optimistic.

That said, it makes one wonder if mankind’s relentless march forward is good or bad for the human spirit and the human soul.

Robert Ringer

+Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

41 responses to “Mankind’s Forward March”

  1. gary nagel says:

    Robert, we'll said.doesn't leave room for complacency AND the need for us to grow in wisdom and always inspecting our own character.

  2. Rick G says:

    Seems like we are all headed toward what Robert Ringer called the Ice Ball Theory as discussed in Winning Through Intimidation. This came to mind this week when I had to pick up a prescription from the pharmacy at Kroger. After doing so, I had some time to survey the magazine rack and came upon an interesting article in the magazine All About Space. The cover read What Will Happen On Earth's Last Day? Absolutely horrifying…….the sun will explode into a red giant supernova swallowing the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars, the surface of the earth will heat up to over a thousand degrees, all life incinerated, oceans evaporated, the moon will.disintegrate into fragments and shower down on earth, the earth's magnetic field gone and polarity becomes erratic, etc. Very horrifically frightening! I was so intrigued by the magazine, I bought it and plan to read it over and over. It all ended with the final question being will man survive? These 2 to 3% that Robert Ringer talks about who keep mankind advancing will hold the key to mankind's survival. And all this clearly shows how miniscule and petty our so-called "problems" really are. There will be a day way on down the road where all this drama and truly nonexistent "problems" mankind is experiencing will no longer matter. And that day will come, and it's moving ever so closer day by day.

  3. Gordon says:

    Robert,
    I hope Kurzweil is right, but perhaps the greatest danger I see, from the technological side, is that our progress has left us no viable fall-back position. Should any disaster occur that shuts down the internet for more than a few days, things would collapse so far that I don't see how we could recover. Just like a living organism requires constant circulation of blood to stay alive, our economy and society now require a constant circulation of information.
    Everything from just-in-time supplies for WalMart, purchases from Amazon, Uber rides, and especially all non-cash payments, depend on instant and reliable communication via the internet. Anything from a solar storm (google Carrington event), to nuclear war, to even some sort of virus or worm that disables large parts of the internet could cause a civilizational disaster.
    I realize that people are ingenious, and I would hope that our ingenuity would be sufficient to survive such a disaster and restart things, but typically we have eliminated the earlier stages of technology that we could have fallen back on, as they are expensive to maintain, and now serve no purpose.
    Thus, I see the future as more or less binary. Either we proceed as Kurzweil and others are projecting, or we fall back to something close to a stone age. I know which of the two I prefer, but I also recognize that my preferences don't count for much.

    • David says:

      Well written, Gordon. I agree completely. Additionally, the great majority of telephone communications for the masses is Voip based, which would be immediately non-functional with the loss of internet service.

    • Reality Seeker says:

      Bravo! Gordon. Bravo!

      "our economy and society now require a constant circulation of information." Indeed!

      Further, Western Civilization is headed towards a cashless society. What happens when that's disabled?

      I agree with Robert that the future of mankind could be glorious; but I also agree with Gordon that if the lights go out and there's a cascading crisis that disables SCADA system(s) then it's over. Civilization as we know it ends.

      Any nationwide denial of service for more than two weeks ( write that down) and tens of millions of Americans will die…

  4. Rick G says:

    Daggone! I had a really good response and again it didn't get posted because it had to get "approved" to be posted on here. What am I doing "wrong"?

    • Richard Lee Van Der says:

      Yes, I fight the same battles. Hard to know what they are asking for or what they want!

      • Rick G says:

        Second time in a row. And I spent a lot of time preparing it.

        • larajf says:

          I eventually started copying my reply before hitting submit. At some point, I got moved to the magical list. Hang in there & keep replying your thought inspiring responses!

          • Jim Hallett says:

            Sometimes the responses do not appear when submitted, but then a couple days later when I go back to view comments, they magically appear. I do not use offensive language, so I know I am not being blocked for that, but perhaps, if one responds often (as I do), the system prefers to have new voices appear. That is a good idea, larajf, about copying, since I have sometimes written a more lengthy response, which does NOT appear, and I'm usually averse to try and recompose it for a second try at publication.

    • Reality Seeker says:

      Don't feel bad because you're not alone. I've submitted a few masterpieces that promptly went down the memory hole. I'd be pissed if it were not for the fact that I write for me and me alone.

  5. Richard Lee Van Der says:

    Regarding "Morality and Good Will"… I've been thinking… if churches would give up preaching and teaching "metaphysical mythology" and concentrate on Ethics/Morality and Good Will and Positive Humane Behavior, they could contribute to positive human evolution, INSTEAD OF how they are now.

    • Noah says:

      The problem with your suggested approach is that the nature of sinful human beings prevents them from behaving humanely and ethically, which is why we need God's word such as the Ten Commandments to use as a mirror to show our inability to act properly, and why we need a Savior to fulfill the law that we cannot.

      • Richard Lee Van Der says:

        The Big Ten are fine, as far as they go, but if people were not "culture bound" they could discover the concept of "Ahimsa", a concept propounded by the Ancients of India, meaning, DO NO HARM TO SELF OR OTHER. That about covers all Thou Shalt Nots. BUT, the concept requires a great deal of JUDGMENT and that's the rub. Mass Mind is not capable of it. My mother took me to a Christian Church (doesn't matter to say which denomination) and being a serious kid learning to think, the erroneous conditioning didn't take. But it took a lot of thought and study to overcome. But, thank "God" I did! God, or the Force, the One, the Source, the Ground of Being, etc.

  6. Nagendra Nayak says:

    Boss, according to spirit & souls theory, it is the spirit which is supreme and that universal spirit decides the human fate. Just believe good and good shall come. Believe bad and bad will happen. What will you choose?:

  7. John John says:

    I have also contemplated the issue of the human spirit in moving forward in a technological world. Of concern is technology that eases the ways of intrusion into personal freedoms along with the ability of an entrenched political class to use it for control and power over the electorate. Further, the easier life becomes, the more is taken for granted. The glue that traditionally held our country together was its judeo-christian moral base. This base drove its ethics. Our society today appears to have largely moved away from this base that is the driving force behind our country's constitution and its system of laws

    Years ago there was a movie called "The Fifth Element" starring Bruce Willis. It gave a futuristic glimpse into a world of high technology in a society governed by an ever present police state run by corrupt politicians. This film has proven prophetic. I believe we are well on the way to being enveloped in this sickening situation with a society so weakened by a sense of moral judgement that there is little chance of recovery. Perhaps this is part of a cycle that is within the human psychic to be repeated over and over again. This cycle has been noted at various points throughout history as recorded since biblical times and documented in human archaeological records that reflect brutal mass killings and other atrocities.

    At the end of the day, undereducated and purposely deceived masses with little sense of a sound philosophical moral base, will probably continue to evolve to a point of societal pain that will propagate an endless cycle of human misery. It is an absolute miracle that the founding of our country was able to reach the level of success that it has throughout our history. Unfortunately, the end game is now at hand for an intentionally deceived populace that has, for quite sometime, been led by a morally depraved political oligarchy.

    • Jim Hallett says:

      I never saw "The Fifth Element" but it appears that the projection they made was fairly accurate. The problem with technological advances is that, despite their adding to our convenience and development, it also leaves a lot of people behind (technology replaces a lot of the people who made contributions in various fields who no longer have a needed service/talent), and is ripe for control by the ever-present immoral collectivists. In addition, I love the convenience of getting information on anything easily, but I am flooded with information daily – and even when much of it is good, interesting information – it is just too much, and gets in the way of my constructing positive results in my own life. Human mastery is occurring on a small scale amongst some, but the real challenge becomes how to have more human masters (meaning masters of their own character a la "The Christ") to keep up with all the technological development which seems to have an equal chance of being used for evil outcomes/control over others as to positive outcomes. I do like the Kurzweil prediction of 100% solar power within 10 years, as it would make much of today's discussions about energy completely moot.

  8. TheLookOut says:

    Ah-ha RJR, you're at it again, "profound thinking".
    Thanks, great insight as usual.

    • Phil says:

      I love the guys writing and thank God I found his work 40 years ago, give or take. Along with some others, it has proven to be an invaluable source of wisdom.

  9. Bob says:

    It is impossible for good to beat evil when good is wearing moral handcuffs.

  10. patg2 says:

    If you put your faith in technological progress, then you are absolutely right, RR. Technological advances enable ever more powerful and invasive ways to tyrannize the people. The human heart hasn't changed for the better. (This is one of many reasons why I am a Christian.) And even now, we are bent on self-destruction with these advances. Just examine genetic engineering, particularly CRISPR, for your answer. They will totally destroy the genetic content of the world's living organisms, and billions will starve. And most people are totally unaware of the threat.

    As an aside, I don't pay attention to most of what you have mentioned, such as sports. But our leaders do matter, because our individual lives matter, and leaders have a huge impact on our state of being. A person only gets to live once, and someone who cuts short that life, usually in vicious and brutal ways, kills a dream, an innovator, a benefactor of mankind. Not all of us invent, but all of us have the capacity of creativity, and some develop it late in life. Others of us are the ancestors of innovators and benefactors. Do not ask for whom the bell tolls. Every man's death diminishes me. We already throw away millions of human beings every year, worldwide. Each human being is unique. Each is a loss to the human race. Each has the capacity to be a Kurzweil. The human race is insane to throw away these precious people. As was once said, a human mind is a terrible thing to waste. It doesn't matter what the color of your skin is. This is universally true. And it is precisely the best illustration of the flawed nature of human beings. (And that is another reason why I am a Christian.)

    • Phil says:

      I was thinking about Christ as well reading it, where he mentions that these innovators put aside the clutter and move forward…we forget how to be still in modern life and access deeper forms of wisdom. Which ultimately provide the basis for lasting happiness.

      • patg2 says:

        Meditation in Christianity is very specific. We meditate on the attributes of God, the grace of Christ, or content of the Bible. We pray, and communicate directly back to God. Access to deeper wisdom comes through the Holy Spirit. God gives the peace that passes understanding, that the world cannot give. Knowing my eternal destiny is to be with God, in total peace and happiness, gives me a rock solid foundation for peace in this life, even with all the evil around us. On the other hand, the meditation of eastern religions can open a person to suggestability by evil, which is why I avoid it. I have learned that I can become very productive when I accept the help of the Holy Spirit, learning to read a new language in only two weeks, for example, or finding solutions to a problem. Being in partnership with infinite intelligence is awesome! Most truly helpful innovations and inventions have always come in this way.

    • Richard Lee Van Der says:

      RE "Only live once". Consider the concept of REINCARNATION. It's also "in the Bible". And some of us believe some of that subject was removed by the politicians "back when" who delete and/or added ideas for control purposes. In any case, there is the ESSENTIAL difference between BELIEF and KNOWLEDGE. Belief does not make something TRUE. If you read certain literature, you will find great EVIDENCE for reincarnation. I "believe" we are spiritual beings who wear a physical body… this time around, in the past, and probably in the future. But, only time and our transition back to Spirit will tell tlhe story. I call myself a "Spiritist" since I am no longer a Christian. But I have retain certain concepts from Christianity, but with different interpretations or meanings. Too long to say here of course.

      • patg2 says:

        Reincarnation is not in the Bible. On the contrary, it says "it is appointed to man once to die, and after that the judgment." We have mountains of evidence that the original writings (autographs) of the Bible have come down to us intact, with no deletions or additions. The idea that reincarnation is in the Bible is coming from sources that are best questionable.

        I agree that there is a difference between belief and knowledge. That is one reason my own views are so heavily grounded in EVIDENCE, empirical knowledge, and for the Christian faith, it is incalculable. There is so much of it. Certain literature doesn't prove reincarnation. Where is the evidence of the accuracy of certain literature? We'd like to think we get another chance, because we might get it wrong. It measures uncertainty. I am certain. Spiritists base their beliefs on private revelation, WHICH CANNOT BE TESTED EMPIRICALLY.

      • patg2 says:

        By the way, you have indicated that you think the Bible has been tampered with. You do not accept the Bible as absolute authority. For this reason, you cannot quote the Bible on reincarnation. You may have chosen something that wasn't there to begin with. The Bible is either a trustworthy document or it is not. You can't have it both ways.

  11. David says:

    I've heard that a world renown physicist thinks that the greatest danger to mankind is AI. With our ever increasing dependency on it, and our penchant for pushing the envelope, what will be the end point be?

    • patg2 says:

      I wouldn't worry about AI. Ain't gonna happen in the foreseeable future. Far too many people underestimate the requirements. We don't begin to know how to produce a working model of the human brain.

  12. smucko says:

    The dilemma that you describe is why my favorite TV series is Star Trek and favorite movie is Star Wars, both of which are morality plays trumpeting the victory of Good over Evil. I believe that it was Ben Franklyn that said "For a democracy to survive, it must be made up of a moral and enlightened people". We are increasingly neither, as we slip further and further away from basing our moral life on the Bible and our legal life on the constitution.
    Even though we Baby Boomers didn't start this trend, we are going to have a lot of explaining to do to our creator and to history. We have lost the backbone of American Exceptionalism, our American birthright of the Freedom To Be Left Alone. Why the American People have abandoned that principle by allowing the corrupt federal government to take control of every aspect of their lives is beyond comprehension. Really, how do you stand there with tears in your eyes and your hand over your heart at the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, or proudly talk about how your Dad or Grandpaw stopped Hitler to save the world, and then turn your country over to tyrants without even a whimper?
    Let us pray that there are millions of Luke Skywalkers out there who will pick up the Light Saber before it is too late.

    • patg2 says:

      It started with my grandparents, when they were young. With social security and income tax, and letting the government take over the job of caring for the needy (which really is the responsibility of the family and the church). We had soup kitchens at the time. Morality plays are a good thing, but beware the subtle spiritual messages. I, too, have been a fan of Star Trek and Star Wars, and recognize the subtle messages. Good isn't a force; it's a Person (the triune God). Evil is not necessary for balance; it works against it. Star Trek was full of subtle socialism. I enjoyed both for the stories, but decry subtle indoctrination of any kind.

    • patg2 says:

      It started with my grandparents, when they were young. With social security and income tax, and letting the government take over the job of caring for the needy (which really is the responsibility of the family and the church). We had soup kitchens at the time. Morality plays are a good thing, but beware the subtle spiritual messages. I, too, have been a fan of Star Trek and Star Wars, and recognize the subtle messages. Good isn't a force; it's a Person (the triune God). Evil is not necessary for balance; it works against it. Star Trek was full of subtle socialism. I enjoyed both for the stories, but decry subtle indoctrination of any kind.

  13. Jim Halllett says:

    *20 years

  14. Lynne says:

    Insightful and thought-provoking, but ultimately very hopeful. Are we looking at the past or present in feeling pessimistic, and not to the future with the eyes of the 2-3%?

  15. Lana says:

    Excellent article. Thank you.

  16. Jupitetjap says:

    90% about right for living in the past. Not sure what is gained from that, other than some people just have some sort of vendetta, over something minor.

    Very strange and the worst back handed compliment is to say you havent changed a bit. If your not changing, your not growing and good as dead. Keep bringing up things that have past, I see in a lot of folks. Worse than the Grateful Dead dead heads.

  17. John Robb says:

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain Unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men…" Existence of our Creator is demonstrated continually by the wonder and complexity of Creation, DNA, constant and perfect relation and position of Sun, Moon, Earth, etc; Creator's Laws of Moral Behaviour, Physics, Mathematics, etc. Man continues to discover these Laws and claim as their Genius, but man's constant degrading of their morals and government proves man's extreme inferiority to our Creator.

    In the arena of Energy will we please demonstrate the viability of new methods of providing constant energy that will power our modern life style before trashing our working system. Please demonstrate a better standard of living peacefully in trust of one another before discarding the Bible that founded America.

    CreatorisLiberty.com outlines a Plan to put the Bible and Creation back into our Schools and Government. where it produced the greatest nation on Earth. Download ebook "America Come Back" at CreatorisLiberty.com/store, which identifies several of America's major problems and offers solutions that will bring America Back again as the Land of the Free because of the Brave.

  18. Ivan says:

    I'm glad to see a lot of commentators are Christian based with excellent comments. Hopefully it's all in Gods hands.

  19. Sean Kerry Baltz says:

    More great writing from one of our most powerful and practical thinkers—-the brilliant Robert Ringer.

  20. Jurgy says:

    he US is due for a 2nd revolution even if only to get the gov't out of our lives, a media that reports the unbiased truth and a Congress that actually accomplished something for the good of the nation …

  21. Gerald Baum says:

    Robert, we'll said.doesn't leave space for lack of concern AND the requirement for us to develop in insight and continually assessing our own particular character.

  22. Paul Herring says:

    There are many comments here from those who believe in the Bible. Good to see. Many today have completely left God out of the picture. How unreasonable when Jehovah (God's proper name in the Bible) is the Creator of heaven and earth.

    As such not only should he have a say in the future the Bible clearly outlines what it will be. For me, it is the most feasible of all predictions mentioned here or anywhere else.

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