There was a report on Marketplace yesterday that included a statement from an executive at OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT. He said that AI will help companies to improve efficiency. He added that it will also cost jobs.
From a policy standpoint, how will governments address the sudden obsolescence of workers from industries so affected? You may recall that many workers who were displaced by deindustrialization and globalization never fully recovered, to say nothing of local and regional economies.
Also, and perhaps more urgently, in an age of increasing political polarization, where politicians present themselves as proto- and neo-fascists, does not such economic dislocation serve as fertile ground for insurrectionary sentiments? While these new technologies may represent a boon for corporations, they could also produce profound instability in society as a whole.
I came across a post on a social media site which featured a video of what appeared to be an African American woman thanking God for slavery, which supposedly saved her from being somewhere in Africa worshiping a tree. A commentator who re-shared this post indicated that he would rather worship a tree since trees are, after all, real.
His was a good commentary on the logic of African spirituality, that is that it eschews abstraction and elevates that which gives life to the status of the divine. After all, why shouldn’t humans worship the trees, the sun, the earth, and those other things upon which life depends?
Below I list a few examples of how Africans recognized nature as divine from the Akan, Igbo, and Yorùbá traditions.
Ideology is no substitute for scientific literacy. This is especially so in relation to the confluence of ecological crises at hand, crises whose full apprehension and resolution will require critical study and engagement.
There is a crisis of values and a clash of value orientations in our community. Too many of us seem incapable of overcoming the seductions of amorality to understand the social consequences of this conflict. Unaddressed, this will undermine the viability of our community long-term.