Population, Technology, and Perception

Today all over the news we’re being told that the world population has reached 7 billion people.  That got me to thinking about what are the chances that you’re born in any particular country.  What are the chances that a baby born today will land in the USA, or Denmark, or Bangladesh?

This of course is an event of sheer chance.  When I travel overseas I think about the little kids in whatever country I find myself in and am always amazed at how their entire future is determined by where they first appeared on Earth.

A baby born today has a 19% chance of being born Chinese, and 17% chance of being born in India, and 4.5% chance of being American.   A baby born today has about a 41% chance of being either Chinese, Indian, or American.  Think about that, almost half the world’s population falls into those three countries.

After those top three it falls of quickly into the 4% and under levels.  You have (had) almost no chance of being born in a country such as Chile or Sweden (and many others).  The chances of the next baby being born in South Africa is about .73%. In Libya it is less that one tenth of one percent (.092%)!

Here’s the world population breakout with percentage of population by country.

The funny thing is most people go through life not seeing farther than the village they’re born into.  Today however with immediate inter-connectedness what happens 10,000 miles from your home is on your handheld device in seconds.

Kids born today will grow up in a world where the amount of knowledge and information they have to digest and process is so over and above what those of us that got to experience life “pre-personal techology” had to consume.

Sometimes it seems that with so much information coming in from all sides that the world is moving faster than ever, but I think I might disagree there.  If you were to right now go spend a few weeks living in the countryside of Colombia or Romania or a host of other countries,things still happen at a very slow speed – by and large the “outside” world doesn’t event enter into the scene.

I once spent nine months living pretty much in the countryside of Italy and mostly out of touch with the news during that time.  When I came back to the “real world” nothing really had changed and I wasn’t any worse for it.  On the contrary, the time away from the news cycle meant I was able to simply enjoy each day and focus on whatever it was I wanted to do without useless distractions from the news that in reality had no affect on my life in any way.

In the big scheme of things, I don’t think that things are actually that much different in most of the world today than how they’ve been for the past 50 years – it’s just that we know about it now.  When a train runs off the tracks in India we’re almost immediately told about the disaster on the news.  Trains ran off the tracks in far aways places also decades ago but it wasn’t newsworthy in Omaha – and vice versa.

I wonder if the current and next generations will use the emerging technologies to truly filter out what really has no practical informational use in their lives allowing them to get back to what actually matters to them individually and to their immediate family and community.

In the meantime I am using today’s technology to show my kids little by little how lucky they were to be born where they were born.  They’ve discovered Google Earth.

Photo Credit : Trey Ratcliff, stuckincustoms.com

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