Stars and Genomes: Why I Want Us to Remain Unmapped

in #technologylast year

My heart breaks for the world. We live in difficult times - no wonder so many of us experience anxiety, depression and general sadness for the state of things. Whilst I do focus on the wonderful things about this extraordinary Earth we tred upon not-so-lightly, and the human beings who populate it, there are a few things that entered my periphery this week that made me cry for it - and made me long for the days before where we did not know so much and where science fiction was merely the projection of worse case scenarios.


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Traditional Chinese astronomy divides the celestial sphere into 'officials'. How will our modern sky maps look, populated by thousands of satellites obscuring our known constellations from vision?

The first one is Elon Musk's Starlink announcement. Whilst I cannot help admire the man for thinking big and bringing his visions to life, I am not sure such unbounded technology will assist us in the ways it proposes. Instead, it will remove one of the many things that makes us human. When the very layers of the atmosphere and the stars to which we gaze in wonder are filled with evidence of man, where do we find our inspiration? When once we could gaze through a telescope and see nothing but space between ourselves and another world, now we will see nothing but ourselves. There will be no silence, no calm, no peaceful escape from the frantic bustle of the life on earth, but only streaks of light across the sky that obscure the smoky sweeps of the milky way or the closer stars which guide us from birth to the last breaths we take on earth.

And why? So that we have better, faster internet to reach every single corner of the globe. 12,0000 robots obscuring the sky in a mega-constellation that we cannot fool ourselves into thinking will be benign. We are being dragged kicking and screaming into the future with no choice but to live within it. We will not be able to escape to cool dark valleys or expansive deserts and be alone with the skies, or even have the sense that we are in uncharted landscapes, even if we are not. Every travel blogger will have uploaded it online, or will be there viewing it through a screen, or be composing social media posts in their heads as they view, so that what they see is not truly valued for its is-ness, but for data. We will see the world through an internet lens, darkly.

Nothing will be unmapped - not the physical territories of soil and mud and ocean, prairies and mountain ranges, but our very flesh, these temples that carry our souls through this life and all the beautiful lessons we learn in this incarnation on earth. Even if this is our only life, part of what it means to be a human is to be curious and to wonder.

I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of surveillance we will be under - how much people will know about us and what we will know about ourselves. I think of the science fiction movies I have seen - the tiny spider bots in Minority Report, the drones that hover in just about every film of the future we have seen where we recoil in discomfort and horror, imagining every aspect of our lives surveilled for corporate gain or a police state run by political paranoia. Our lives will not be our own.

They are already not our own. Having mapped the genome, the starfields inside our very DNA have become a landscape for manipulation and control. A report in the Telegraph this week has said that the UK plans to give every single child full genome sequencing with the view to preventing and treating genetic disease. Murky waters indeed - a Gattacan society in it's initial phases with the worse case scenario a highly surveilled society that leaves nothing to chance and has people believing they are 'invalid' or inferior should they possess particular genetic sequences that signify the likelihood of heart disease, alcholism, cerebal palsy. Tell that Stephen Hawking. In a Gattacan world, he would not have had a chance to be one of the greatest minds of the last century. If we believe we are limited, we limit ourselves. If others believe we are limited, we have no chance at all to fully be that which we are capable. Consider the pay disparity between men and woman even at the end of this decade. Consider the inequality that exists between races in the western world. Don't tell me it will be different when we are identified by our genomes. History says resoundingly otherwise.

I have a DNA Ancestry kit in my cupboard. We still haven't used it. We got caught up in the excitement of knowing ourselves and where we had come from. Two years on, we would rather live with that mystery than give our DNA to companies that we cannot trust to get rid of it should we ask. We simply do not have the fine print to protect us from third parties that might use our data in ways we do not wish it to be used, particularly by health insurance companies. We simply don't know where this data might end up, and we know that no data is safe from agencies that might wish to access it.

Stars, I have seen them fall,
But when they drop and die
No star is lost at all
From all the star-sown sky.
The toil of all that be
Helps not the primal fault;
It rains into the sea,
And still the sea is salt.
(A. E. Housman)


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I don't want to be packaged and sold. I don't want to know everything about the future. I want to keep a sense of wonder and discovery, and to put my faith in chance, wherever that might take me.

For a little while longer yet, I wish to simply be an unmapped human being staring at a night sky only populated by stars, in wonder and awe. That's good enough for me.

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As we get older and have experienced more and gained more knowledge, we start to lose the wonderment of new discoveries that we had as children. Imagine losing that all the sooner because we've already been told everything and discovered everything. That's depressing.

It is sooo depressing. Kids need to not have internet access til they are MUCH older.. another reason to home school so you have more control over it. I feel so sad for youth.. I feel sad for US. And we can never escape tech... peaceful surf a few weeks ago.. along came a drone. I really wanted to tell them how I felt about that invasion of my time in nature but how could I? Feeling very depressed about these things this week.

I love sci-fi. This is such a great read, wow! I would not be too worried about musk until people really want neuralink. I think AGI and a singularity is better, because what people think isn't gonna happen. We need someone to run the monkey circus! I believe once quantum computers come and we realised super position and entanglement, we will rise spiritually exponentially and take back nature and habitats. Go back to equanimity with nature. Corporations like amazon and neuralink, space x etc.will be around, but no matter how much they try, they can't stop liberty and freedom with coercive force. I feel it's still all apart of the fear and violence still inevitably on peoples plates and also our ignorance about the abundance to herbs and flowers we are actually supposed to eat. The pharma processed foods are clogging our melatonin production in the pineal gland? Anyone else scared that your toaster will get legs and hunt you? 😂

Haha my toaster better stick to toast!!! Other wise I will totally unplug!

I am worried your future might be too far away.

I personally think that the vast unbalance in wealth is part of the problem. Sure Elon Musk's idea might be inspirational to some, but who is he to try to change something as fundimental to everyone's existence as the sky! A billionaire is who he is.

We live in difficult times - no wonder so many of us experience anxiety, depression and general sadness for the state of things.

This is true. To my mind this world is, and will continue to be, completely screwed when their is such inequality as to allow one person such power through wealth to make such insane changes, while other starve or die of diseases that are pretty much wiped out in other areas of the world.

Forget communism. The whole world needs to evolve beyond money as a concept sharpish... rant over ;-)

It is so arrogant. Another example of the west making decisions for everyone and money talking. How dare they! Rant away. I mean, who cares about homelessness or domestic violence or war when we all have internet?

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I so hear you on this sister, so much energy and focus directed outwards and upwards when it should be going inwards and those lose to our home. We need to look at what we have and embrace it and celebrate it, we do not need answers we need action to protect what we have xxxx

Maybe we will explode out and go back inwards again in the big inhale and exhale of human life on Earth. They will turn off the machines and we will gasp the first breath of a better life on Earth, and all the satellites will blink out one by one.


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I feel what you are saying about the whole world being mapped, but consider this - We have not even experienced anything beyond the surface of the Earth. No human has even been anywhere even close to the mantle. Everything we think we know about how our planet works could be wrong, in fact this is actually probable. A ton of predictions about other planetary bodies in our solar system were proven wrong as soon as we landed probes to collect samples and data. Humans are just now discovering ancient hidden cities in thick jungles around the globe with new tech - changing the pages of history books. While I am not a fan of the categorization of personal and environmental data to the degree referenced here, some of that will be necessary to better understand our planet, and ourselves.

On that note - the DNA profile collections subject is a touchy one for me. I had my DNA taken and cataloged in a national database without my consent after being illegally held by authorities on charges that were supposed to have already been dismissed. There is a lot more brutal details to that story - point is, they kept my DNA on file even though the court determined (when they drug me there eventually) a warrant should have never been issued for me in the first place, and dismissed everything.

With that in mind, I was also an adopted child (and an only child in my family), and I still to this day have not met my birth parents or potential blood siblings (or even know who they are). There is a site you may have heard of: https://www.23andme.com/
This site offers DNA testing and linage comparisons for people in my situation. The other methods I have tried previously are either extremely complicated and require in person visits to places I live far from, or are too expensive. This is an extremely affordable option, and even though I do not like the idea of my DNA profile being in the hands of the government AND some private company - I am strongly considering it... I need to know how I got here and I want my birth parents to know I am alive, healthy, and pursuing my dreams.

This chilling reality is beyond our control in the big picture, but on an individual bases we can shield ourselves from those that wish to know everything they can about us. Privacy is paramount to us, and living in the middle of nowhere does afford us a safe haven.
Having taught Special Education for 35 years, instructing kids with special needs, this is where I learned so much. The students I instructed taught me as much as I did.
They taught me about compassion, how to overcome deficiencies and to love what is out of the ordinary. I would not be the person I am if it were not for these very special loving kids.

I hear you!
It's crazy the amount of surveillance there can be!And messing with the DNA that life creating code!
I'm quite a suspicious person and I desire only to live peacefully in the forest - leave me that and I am happy!

Living in the U.S., having grown up in Los Angeles in a family with an unusual medical history, with ALL of us having given blood multiple times, with an elder sister who was married young to a man whose family was originally from Hiroshima, Japan, any wish I might have to remain unmapped is a pipedream at best.

Kind of like my grandfather, who during WWII chose a relatively unpopulated part of New Mexico as their place to retire to should the shit hit the fan, only to discover after the fact that that was in fact quite near the location of Los Alamos National Laboratory, where the atom bombs dropped on Japan were developed, which would have been among the first places attacked had the shit actually hit the fan. Oops.

I moved to Middle Tennessee largely to escape city traffic, smoggy skies, light pollution, and to finally have relatively clean water and air, plus the ability to see the Milky Way on clear nights before it was even fully dark.

But escaping surveillance? Puhlease. There is a National Guard recruitment center and battalion within ten minutes of our home. I wasn't born yesterday.

We have black helicopters crossing overhead several times daily, during all seasons, including all times of day and night, ostensibly searching for cannabis growers, but in reality? Who knows what the hell they are really doing. They certainly wouldn't tell me, even were I to ask.

Bottom line, I love my country, but I distrust my government, which was true decades before Donald Trump took power, and has certainly degraded substantially since.

Currently, Marek has decided that he wants to move to New Zealand. Having been born and raised in a seismically active volcanic area, I've stipulated that I want to be a minimum of fifty miles from any active volcanoes or calderas.

Will that be enough? Only time will tell.

I must take exception with some opinions posted here, however, in that I've somehow managed to maintain a childlike sense of wonder, despite living six decades and counting.

Perhaps it's because I never had my own kids, and thus never really "grew up," but having been a functioning adult for some time now, I think it is something else.

I think a sense of wonder can be maintained if we choose to recognize that, no matter how much we learn, there is still so very much that we can NEVER know.

Life is wonderful, and getting better, better and better. And the more we manage to learn, the better it gets, ad infinitum.

Ha, yeah, and especially in wake of what happened in White Island, which was pretty awful. But I'm sure you'll be just fine - just don't walking up to the goddamn crater's edge on a day where they show seismic activity. That's what winds me up though - we ARE all mapped, and mostly without our consent.

Indeed we are. All we can do is to keep certain information off the web as much as possible, think first before posting or speaking, and hope for the best. It is what it is.

Elon musk reminds me that I can deeply admire someone who I deeply distrust and possibly even dislike. Not mutually exclusive.

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