Proyecto Visión 21

Who will save us from the challenges of the future?

I recently attended a workshop in Denver about the history of Hispanics (Spaniards, Mexicans, and Mexican-Americans) in Colorado. I arrived in Colorado almost two decades ago, but I didn’t know until a few days ago that Hispanics came to this area before many of the Native American tribes arrived to this territory.

According to Bill Convery, the state historian in Colorado and one of the presenters at the workshop I attended, the presence and influence of Hispanics in this state is older and deeper one could guess on the basis of what is being taught today at local schools and colleges.

One of the main reasons why Hispanic history is not being taught in Colorado is that after 1848, when the territory changed hands from Mexico to the United States, the previous history was forgotten and in many cases even suppressed.

I am amazed by our ignorance of our past and of the accomplishments of our ancestors. Of course, they were people just like us, so we shouldn’t forget their mistakes and, in many cases, their atrocities.

However, with dedication, we can recover that past, leading us to a meeting with other human beings who preceded us. The future, on the other hand, seems to belong to robots.

Last week, Boston Dynamics announced it won a contract with a federal agency related to defense research to develop a robot that looks like a cheetah to “hunt” humans, either for good reasons (rescue) or for military purposes.

Boston Dynamics is also developing Atlas, a humanoid robot that looks like “Terminator”, but without a head. The purpose of Atlas was not made public, but a previous model, Petman, was used to test chemical weapons.

So, while we are comfortably sitting in front of a screen (TV, computer, cell phone), thinking that what we see is real life, we are shifting away from a human past we practically ignore and getting closer and closer to a cybernetic future we don’t know too much about.

What are the options? Should we learn about a past that will soon be trampled my mechanical beasts? Should we be worried about a future we can’t control and we only have few details?

As Hölderlin said, “Where danger threatens, salvation also grows.” Where will our salvation come from? Perhaps from an unexpected group: Latinas in leadership position.

Latinas know how to keep the past alive and how to anticipate the future. We all remember and use advice and suggestions from our mothers or grandmothers. Those pieces of advice are so good they survived unimaginable cultural and technological changes.

At the same time, there are a growing number of Latinas in leadership positions, both at the federal and at the state level. For example, for the first time, three Latinas are serving together at the Colorado State Senate; four more at the legislature in Nevada, and one more in Utah’s senate.

Perhaps there is still hope to recover the past, improve the future, and build a truly human future.

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