Are we in control of the system, or are we its slaves? – some thoughts prior to the Health-Safety –Environment (HSE) seminar

Eystein 2Next week it is again time for the annual K2 HSE-seminar. As an attendant you will learn more about cooperation and work joy – important factors which contribute to making K2 a good place to work.
I am currently reading Sapiens – a Brief History of Humankind written by Israeli historian Yuval Harari. The book presents a fascinating overview of the history of Homo Sapiens – the wise human – or to use Harari’s expression: The deadliest species in the annals of biology.
One of the major upheavals in our history was the agricultural revolution which occurred in the Middle East approximately 12000 BC. Prior this this, Homo Sapiens was a hunter and gatherer (forager) moving around to wherever food was available. The agricultural revolution was brought about by knowledge on how to grow and cultivate wheat. Traditionally this is portrayed as a major historical advancement but Harari asks the question: did humans take control of the wheat or did the wheat take control of humans? The agricultural revolution made Homo Sapiens into relatively immobile farmers who had to work more and harder – sow, weed, fertilize and irrigate under a merciless sun. From being a relatively free individual capable of moving around and gather and hunt a diverse diet, the food now became less varied, and he/she became more vulnerable to how climate and weather affected the crops. As a result, malnutrition, hunger and death were constant threats. Furthermore unaccustomed, repetitive and unphysiological tasks brought new diseases and ailments related to strain. However, the great advantage was more efficient food production providing enough food to feed many more mouths. Cities and societies grew around the farming fields, but with them came disease and wars. The presumed advancement, which quickly turned out to be irreversible, had a lot of negative side effects.
Many parallels can be drawn to recent history. When I started working with research as a student we did not have PCs, www, or e-mail, all of which today have become indispensable (?) aids. Before, a letter would be written if one had something important to say. Now all of us spew out e-mails in at an ever increasing rate and quantity. Are we in control of the IT-revolution or have we become its slaves? – and how does this affect HSE at K2?
This is something we can perhaps think about while we await the HSE-seminar on November 05.
See you there!
Eystein Husebye
Acting Head of Department

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