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Industrial Revolution - Coloniality and Stagnation
As with the maxim gun, recent AI innovations have a fundamental implication on our reality. It has again granted a vast superiority between us and others on this planet once again.
Through a series of errors and tragedies in history, our society has largely stagnated from the period of the industrial revolution in the latter half of the 1700s.
The first industrial revolution (1IR) saw the advent of mechanised efficiency in the process of manufacturing, though with limited adoption due to its novelty.
The second industrial revolution (2IR) saw a speedy adoption of technological innovations and discovery across various fields, industries and manufacturing. The major contribution to the increasing adoption of industrialisation at the time is the embrace of scientific principle and methods, the standardisation of processes, products and system which informs this expansion, and the further spread in the adoption of electricity.
The third industrial revolution (3IR) occurred not too long ago and is still fresh in the minds of many. The invention of the semiconductor led to a shift towards digital systems in the late 1900s. It led to the invention and adoption on a global scale of technologies like the web/internet, computers, mobile phones and the mail. All these and more have fundamentally shifted the capacity and reality of humanity in ways no time in history can compare.
As with other industrial revolutions before it, the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is shares a lot with those preceding it, but differs greatly as there is no fundamental separation between it and the 3IR. The 4IR is more characterised by the monumental expansion of the 3IR and how it has impacted virtually every aspect of our reality.
The exponential rise in computation power, the further digitisation of all technology and interconnectivity achieved by connecting them to the internet, the internet of things (IoT). We’ve seen the creation of a cyberspace where humanity spends a large portion of the day through on device or the other.
Also, the evolution of computing over the past 2 decades has contributed to the birth of more powerful Artificial Intelligence (AI) which has cumulated in the creation of tools likes ChatGPT and Midjourney which grant the average human the capacity to tap into the power of AI at a fraction of the cost and technology required to create them.
That was quite the long exposition but one required nonetheless to make clear to you as it is to me the tragedy of our reality today as eternal consumers of these technologies.
The Maxim Gun
A product of the 1IR is the maxim gun, the first fully automatic machine gun, invented in 1884 and first demonstrated in October of the same year. Coincidentally, the Berlin Conference held a month later in November. It went on not only to contribute to the conquest and empire's desires of the British and Europe.
One of the first recorded uses of the Maxim gun by British Forces was in the 1887 Yoni Expedition. Before this time, the realisation of the Berlin Conference dream has largely stagnated because of the parity of warfare technology at the time and the high inefficiency of flintlock rifles in use.
This discovery was able to change all this and ensure the victory and eventual annexation, subjugations, and incorporation of our kingdoms and nations into the colonial project. Territories, nations and empires who had been able to ward off the European invasions before that time.
ChatGPT has made it possible for all of humanity to have their own personal assistant in a box in way Siri, Ok Google or Cassandra cannot match. With each passing day the technology breaks new ground and challenges our ideas of the limitations of technology. But as with experiences, this AI as well has the unconscious bias of not only its creators baked in but also whatever bias is contained in the 45 gigabytes of data the latest iteration, GPT-4, is trained on.
As ChatGPT is a blackbox, we have no idea what its internal workings are or its persuasions. But we consume its choices as we do with any other human, but maybe with a bit more trust than should be due.
As with the maxim gun, recent AI innovations as this have fundamental implications which on our reality. We already see the rudimentary application of AI in autonomous system in warfare in similar speed as we see in other fields like medicine. It has again granted a vast superiority between us and others on this planet once again.
Coloniality and Stagnation
From the start of the 1IR till now, we have largely been left behind. We cannot, on a national level, be said to be playing catch up as we are yet to display the capacity or mastery of the innovations that have informed our reality and experience through the past few centuries.
The basics of 1IR, which is essential to industrialise a process, is one we struggle with. Also, the 2IR process of standardisations, scale expansion and electrification, 3IR process of digitisation, and the accessibility and automations that have come to be paramount to today’s world is clearly currently beyond our reach.
For a long time, I have considered the advent of the 1IR and the creations of the maxim gun to have led to the frustration of our development. Although truly time had moved onwards and many more, to which many will ask for us to move on and not wallow in the past.
The little that was accomplished in the 1960/70 was pilfered away by a series of coups by inexperienced military generals. Contributing to this are the political inconsistencies that characterised the colonials states at the time epitomised by their desires for unity to keep the contraptions alive at all cost. Costs which have become apparent to be the freedom, prosperity and modernisation of the people.
But it must still be stated as it is clear as daylight that the realities instituted from 1884 on us continues to plague us while the current developments seems although at first glance to make our situations better in its own measure, but under closer inspection not only frustrates the resolutions of this aged illegitimacy/error but also complicates it.
It is important to note that arising from the 1IR; the discoveries made are not limited to technologies and its adoption alone, as this drown out the others, but of ideologies as well and how those with primacy in this technology have been able to incorporate it within the products, or these days algorithms, they produce for our consumption.
To escape the current dilemma we have found ourselves, we need to internalise the lesson of structuring ourselves in such a way to form agile and adaptive cohesive units away from the current chimera states we have chosen to hold together by force. The thought of collective advancement needs to be jettisoned and individual groups able to need to seek modernisation and prosperity for their people first, before going on an adventure of benevolence.
Sustaining the current reality is unreasonable for Africa. With the level of its diversity and landmass, no other continent can relate to its circumstance and reality. Africa requires not only more states but true nations built on the ethnolinguistic model with ethnic majority presence in each nation. Only through this can the dream of stability, prosperity a degree of unified reality be achieved.