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Douglas Rushkoff's Talk on the Digital Apocalypse is Incredibly Hopeful

 - Dec 19, 2018
References: rushkoff & ted
Celebrated media theorist and digital futurist Douglas Rushkoff delivers a talk on the digital apocalypse that is eye-opening and motivational. The speaker begins his keynote with a personal anecdote. He was called in by five tech billionaires to shed light on the digital future. He was surprised to find out that what these individuals were primarily interested in was the location of their doomsday bunkers. What was alarming to Rushkoff here is that these men -- some of the most powerful and wealthiest in the world, felt utterly helpless influencing the future and wanted to use their money and technology to separate themselves from the rest of humanity in the 'final hour.'

The talk on the digital apocalypse is largely centered around 'Team Human' mentality. Rushkoff identifies the digital renaissance as the "unbridled potential of the collective human imagination" -- an era of creativity that is only stifled by the dot-com boom, social media and the like. Instead of placing value and celebrating imagination, the Internet space becomes a battlefield for data-mining and predictions, while "creativity, if anything, [...] creates noise" and is discarded.

Douglas Rushkoff expands on the effects of social media on communication and how these platforms are not about connecting humans in meaningful ways but simply deriving more data for better behavioral predictions. Digital apps, on the other hand, prevent humans from truly connecting but only give an illusion of it. The talk on the digital apocalypse goes on to make the argument that most digital initiatives that claim to promote and be beneficial to humans are "intensely anti-human at the core." Not to mention the dire effects of the manufacturing of devices, as well as the inherent push to educate our children in order to secure jobs and nothing else.

Rushkoff stresses during his talk that we have begun to internalize that "human beings are the problem and technology is the solution." The media theorist advocates for the abolition of such an idea and the re-centering of the fight to 'Team Human' -- "the original insight of the digital age" which calls for meaningful collaboration, community-building, co-operative ownership, and platforms that embrace creativity.