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10,000 Feet

10,000 Feet

February 7, 2019 6:55 pm0 comments

I don’t usually buy WiFi in the air, but I had to this time to deal with some on-the-ground logistics for an upcoming ski trip. Those having been dealt with, I am now sitting in a comfortable United Economy Plus seat looking out over an endless field of dark clouds, getting some work done and marveling once again at how small the world has become.

For, in the span of an instant, I went from texting my friends in the Rockies about the house check-in, to chatting with my virtual assistant in Bangladesh. Then I hopped on my work email to connect with my colleagues in New York, but not before I checked up on the progress of a project being run by our office in the Ukraine. And I just received a Slack from our remote engineer in Detroit–lovely town.

The technology that allows me at 10,000 feet in the air to communicate with friends and colleagues across the world in an instant is not the miracle with which I am immediately occupied. What infuses me with awe is the manner and ease in which people from so many backgrounds and walks of life, religions and cultures, languages and geographies, from the mountains of the West to the steppes of the East, cooperate with each other to achieve a common goal. That this cooperation happens not with coercion or planning but with free association, with respect for the freedom and wishes of others, and in furtherance of a common cause, is the true miracle. Technology is merely the catalyst which lays bare the impressive interconnectedness of this global society.

This interconnectedness is precious and not guaranteed. It must be free from interference by malevolent actors. It must be protected against reactionary forces on both sides of the political spectrum who seek to ignite class or ethnic conflict. And more than anything else, it must be understood by most that it is an unfettered good, and not an indicator of evil, that an administrative assistant in Bangladesh can do business with an American technology executive 10,000 feet above somewhere in Michigan.

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