A week or so ago I wrote a Post under the heading ( The Beady Eye say’s Inequality will be the Corrosive Paint of the Future)
It was very popular reading (Out of the five hundred hits there was not one comment constructive or otherwise. It asks the question whether Word Press manufacturers the hits as any reasonable person that took the trouble to read the post would have a view on its content other than Awa sum/Like.)
Perhaps it is that Americans who were the majority of the readership can’t understand words of over four symbols and are incapable of expressing a worldview.
Let’s see what happens this time.
The question is: Without the corset of current thinking what corrosion there is to be found in the Future.
I apologize in advance if you find this post somewhat chaotic but the subject lends itself to be so. Ignorant as I am, I don’t think I’d ever fully appreciated what we are doing or what is being done in our name.
We all envision a sustainable, just and peaceful future where universal rights are respected to cope with ever-growing unemployment and inequality. Dreams of tomorrow, once populated by hoverboards, flying cars and holidays to Mars, now seem far less hopeful: they no longer come to us in the technicolour joy of the sixties and seventies, but in a muted, washed-out sepia.
The future looks decidedly bleak.
We seem incapable of planning beyond the next twenty or thirty years.
So are we enslaving future generations by our current lifestyles.
It seems so. The need for long-term thinking and integrating the interests of future generations in policy-making, which are indispensable for addressing challenges like climate change or biodiversity loss are sadly lacking if we are to hand a livable planet to the next generations.
So is there anything to say about the distant future?
We don’t know anything specific but we can make out the broad contours.
In my view there are four possibilities for the future of humanity.
Conventional wisdom seems to assume that the whole world will converge towards a plateau of development similar to the lifestyle of the richest countries today.
So the future will look a lot like the present.
Given the interconnected geography of the contemporary world and the unprecedented destructive power of modern weaponry, its hard not to ask whether a large-scale social disaster could be contained were it to occur.
This is what fuels our fear of total extinction.
Then there is the possibility of technology breakthrough which could take many forms so advanced that to defy description.
If the first possibility were to happen it would not last.
Economic competition would become so intense and the consumption of scarce resources so profound that competition would lead to war.
So we are left with Mind Blowing technological advances to save the planet and us that live on it.
They would have to be so powerful to transcend the current limits of our collective understanding.
There is one thing certain and that is the future won’t happen on its own. Once computers can answer all our questions, perhaps they’ll ask why they should remain subservient to us all.
The stark choices we face today will shape it. Something or nothing. It’s up to all of us. We have to change the way we do things. We have to think for ourselves as only by seeing the world anew, as fresh, as strange as it was for the ancients who saw it first, then we can both re-create it and preserve it for the future.
So let’s start with the heartbeat of Capitalism. Greed.
Corporations have great power but they are shackled to the profit motive.
Maximising Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and market efficiency – are no longer adequate goals for society. We must develop politically compelling messages around beyond GDP indicators.
The fundamental problem remains that in the negotiation of trade-offs between economic, environmental and social policy objectives, it is economic objectives that still trump others.
Beyond GDP concepts need to be rooted in processes, goals and targets that have legitimacy.
To engage citizens and establish democratic legitimacy broader indicators that incorporate health, social and environmental statistics are needed.
We must counter the widespread assumption that efficient markets and growth at all costs deliver the best results for humanity, the environment and our societies.
The trouble is that all Social Systems will resist change whether it be Capitalism or whatever. None want to pay for the cost of change and non will.
However the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which includes developments in previously disjointed fields such as artificial intelligence and machine-learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3-D printing, and genetics and biotechnology, will cause widespread disruption not only to business models but also to labour markets over the next five years, with enormous change predicted in the skill sets needed to thrive in the new landscape.
It is therefore critical that broader and longer term changes to basic and lifelong education systems are complemented with specific, urgent and focused reskilling efforts.
We will have to move away from Certified forms of education—to the actual content of learning.
Reforming current education systems to better equip today’s students to meet future skills requirements—as worthwhile and daunting as that task is—is not going to be enough.
65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.
Because we are creating a world digital divide we need to bring back Philosophy and Social Science to everyday education.
It might be possible in the future to experience the sand between your toes, feel the salt from the ocean on your lips, hear the waves and smell the seaweed, just lying in your bed at home. But we will not be able to fool the mind in the way that no matter how real the experience will feel, you will always know that it haven’t happened for real.
Even if we could it will never replace the common experience if it is not genuine.
As you know the winner in life is not the one with the most money when he dies, the winner is the person who sleeps best at night.
At the moment, we still think primarily in terms of the natural consequences of climate change.
In the future we will be struggling with issues that have both natural and social causes and impacts and Inequality will be high on this list.
There are 7.3 billion people alive today about 2/3 of the world’s population lives in Asia, a figure dominated by India and China and more than half of the global population growth between now and 2050 will occur in Africa where inequality is rampant.
This will have profound cultural implications for the whole world.
The fact that civil society is impacting this debate through the Internet is good because decisions taken by politicians today will have a major influence on the world of tomorrow.
The world has changed a lot in the last 150 years, but we humans are driven by the same basic needs as we were 150 years ago, food, sleep, sex, the feeling of being appreciated and loved.
We will see in the next 50 years the transition from an oil-dependent society, new medicine, the first steps in the development of artificial intelligence, continued exploration of space, smart systems—homes, info drones, factories, farms, grids or entire cities, more people to die from AIDS, hopefully a better state for the poor people in the world, challenges in the climate change, and new inventions that make life a little easier and entertaining for some.
The small things seem to matter more these days.
We are instrumental in infrastructure planning, embedding the belief that public and corporate desires for livability and efficiency were compatible.
We all agree that our world is precious and energy is the master resource. We all agree that there is simply aren’t enough resources in the world to replicate old approaches, or to redistribute our way to prosperity.
But globalization is not only causing severe energy challenges but contributing to dooming us all down to brainless consumers that justify our ways by signing online petitions that get no where other than highlight a problem.
But is this real power?
Ooh, good question! I think it was someone who thought of reversing the power of flash mobs – I mean it’s still about solidarity but now it’s kind of organised to maintain the balance of power in society – so everyone does their bit.
I think there’s less inequality now, do you know what I mean?
We certainly are not going to saved by religion although beliefs might make it less painful for some – bringing long-term thinking into world policy making might be better.
The direction we are going we be lucky if there is any clear air or fresh water left.
What is the way forward?
Make everything that matter to life free and abundant to all.
The best way to predict the future is to create it. This can only be achieved by spreading the cost fairly.
By placing a World Aid commission on all activities that are for Profit sake. ( See previous posts)
All comments appreciated. All like clicks keep to yourself.