Things We're Thinking About

A Pressing Question of our time

We now live in an age of information superabundance. It is often noted that more information has been produced in the last thirty years than in the previous five thousand. Around 1,000 books are published internationally every day, and the total of all printed knowledge doubles every five years. Yet printed documents only make up .003 percent of total information. The world has produced 300 exabytes (300,000,000,000,000,000,000 pieces) of information—and produces between 1 and 2 exabytes of unique information per year, which is roughly 250 megabytes for every man, woman, and child on earth. To make this a little more concrete, 300 billion emails, 200 million Tweets, and 2.5 billion text messages course through our digital networks every day. Add to this the 85,000 hours of original programming produced every day by over 21,000 television stations and the 6,000 hours of YouTube video produced every hour. The weekday edition of the New York Times contains more information than the average person in seventeenth-century England was likely to come across in a lifetime.

We are overcome by a tsunami of information. Is there clarity, wisdom, or truth to be had in the midst of this complexity? If so, how do we sort through it all? The puzzles posed by difference and complexity are built into the modern world. Given the conflict, disorder, confusion, and human suffering that follow in the wake of our deepest differences, and given the massive complexity of modern knowledge and information, questions arise: What is Justice? Fairness? Equity? How do we live together at peace with our deepest moral differences? And if we can’t agree on shared principles or ideals and their application, on what grounds do we adjudicate our disagreements?

From Science and The Good by James Davison Hunter and Paul Nedelisky

Posted by: Christina