Becoming digital Citizens: From survive to thriveBecoming digital Citizens: From survive to thrive https://www.citizenme.com/public/wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/redwood-national-park-1587301_1920.jpg 1920 1281 StJohn Deakins StJohn Deakins https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/67e7ca4885d1b922783ca3a83741a282?s=96&d=mm&r=g
“Saving our planet” is now one of the most pressing global issues for humanity. As we progress out of the industrial era into a new era of digital knowledge, the impact that human development has on the world is becoming clearer. We are inflicting sustained harm on our climate and environment, be it land, oceans or the air that we breathe.
The truth is, the planet doesn’t care. The world has seen mass extinction events before. If we humans do screw up the planet so badly that we extinguish ourselves (along with a million other species) in the process, the earth will sustain and regenerate. And in another 100 million years or so, a new species with similar intelligence will likely evolve and wonder what it can learn from the fossils of our lost civilisation. Therefore, when we talk about saving Mother Earth, what we’re actually talking about is saving ourselves – avoiding damaging our collective home to such an extent that it becomes incapable of sustaining us any longer. Put simply, “saving the planet” is about the survival of humanity.
But there is hope. We can only be sure that ecological change is happening thanks to the insights we can gather from the data we collect. Where fossil fuels enabled the industrial revolution, it is the capture and digitization of data – about ourselves and the world around us – that is enabling our new information revolution. This change is leading to positive progress: we now know that our industrial activity has caused sea levels to rise and we can see the bleaching of coral reefs from satellites; we’ve witnessed how data illuminates the connection between air pollution and our life expectancy, and we’re beginning to understand the systemic impact of clearing rainforests.
In each new era, we gain a perspective that allows us to try righting the wrongs of the previous era. In the industrial age we moved from serfdom and slavery to an attempt of establishing human rights for all people. This was the ‘enlightened’ thinking that led to democracies becoming the default for governance and our belief that we have a right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.
As our global society shifts from a focus on industrial production (and gross domestic *product*) to a focus on digitized data, intelligence and knowledge, what aspirations do we have for our new era?
If the building block of our new digital era is data and information, our goal should be to urgently use the resulting knowledge to tidy up our post-industrial ecological mess and aspire to be better. Understanding the impact we have on the world around us enables us to limit the damage that we cause to it, ensuring that we make it habitable and harmonious for all lifeforms.
Simultaneously, we should look forward. The gift of the digital era is information. Used correctly, it will unlock knowledge, insight and understanding for all of us: about the universe around us and, most importantly, about ourselves. This is the true value of data that is waiting to be unlocked. Only when we do so, will humanity shift from survive to thrive and be able to transcend beyond sustainability to enable our world to flourish.
At CitizenMe, our mission is to empower humanity with data to build a sustainable digital future. Our vision will always be to enable Citizens and organisations to benefit from anonymously exchanging data that unlocks valuable knowledge and insights. And we are currently the only organisation in the world that does this.
StJohn founded CitizenMe with the aim to take on the biggest challenge in the Information Age: helping digital citizens gain control of their digital identity. Personal data has meaning and value to everyone, but there is an absence of digital tools to help people realise its value. With CitizenMe, StJohn aims to fix that. With with a depth of experience digitising and mobilising businesses, StJohn aims for positive change in the personal information economy. Oh… and he loves liquorice.All stories by: StJohn Deakins
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