Jogger, wearing a headlamp on a north Alabama side road, influenced by a viral video of villagers rescuing a neighbour’s body from within a python, bobs up and down as bobolinks and robins wake up in the predawn air.
We don’t pick cotton or cut sugar cane by hand around here anymore.
No, manual labour has lost its value as far as commercially-farmed edibles is concerned.
Manual labour still exists in the form of handcrafted art and jewelery.
Workers still fill potholes with shovelfuls of asphalt, still run power cable by hand, still hammer studs and plant bushes with their arms as levers.
But the tools grow more sophisticated, the workers’ brainpower redirected, their hand-eye coordination rewired.
We look to education to solve human-machine interface configuration issues.
What are looking for, really?
Is it one person’s yacht versus a thousand persons’ robotic movements?
Are we forever doomed to be hierarchical antmound builders, some with a mountaintop view and some in perpetual darkness underground?
A recent visitor to this planet asked if we’ve always been mountbuilding social creatures, observing from space that our domiciles are primarily boxes piled on top of boxes, linked by antlike trails carrying food and supplies from domicile to domicile primarily across the surface of the planet.
Who was I to disagree?
The visitor asked if we planned to carry these habits with us as we moved on to other planets.
A good question.
Have we advanced beyond moundbuilding civilisations?
Will we ever?
Will we continue to appease our ancestors or completely reconfigure ourselves to enhance our ability to travel great distances across the galaxy?
The visitor left us with many questions, providing no answers except in the negation of our Earthbound habits.
The visitor was not humanoid or superintelligent, the visitor did not use a universal translator to communicate.
The visitor was an asteroid with a shiny surface, reflecting us back to ourselves, reminding us that the tree which drops seeds on the ground is composed of the same galactic material.
The messages we write into DNA which triggers a new species to assert itself beyond Mars orbit, that is the lesson the asteroid taught us: we already have the tools we need to successfully move away from Earth, we just need to reeducate ourselves to use the tools properly, getting beyond moundbuilding and social hierarchies in the process.