The radicalization of 21st-century humans
TAKE A STAND | The French philosopher, Michel Serres, outlines five ways 21st century humans will radically differ from the way we’ve lived since the beginnings of recorded history. How can we create positive revolutions – shifts in the way we produce, consume and live together – that will shape tomorrow’s world?
We are all awash in a sea of information, surrounded by countless expert ideas. If we are to tackle the most pressing challenges in the coming decades, creative leaders will need to sharpen their focus. But on what?
1. Resources: our awareness of the limitations of our planet, the physical home we inhabit. How will we grow our food, share our freshwater and manage our resource and energy needs? We need to invent, create and establish sustainable practices for all our physical needs.
2. Demography and mobility: rapid, unevenly distributed population growth and migration patterns. Where will we find a home so we can live harmoniously with others? We need to tackle swelling megacities and legal and illegal people flows. We need to understand our allegiance to traditional and new communities, and the geopolitical shift from the West to the East.
3. Emergent technologies: what technologies have such breakthrough potential that they will radically alter the way we live? What game-changers are being developed in the fields of genetic engineering, nano and neuro technologies, and robotics and artificial intelligence? We must harness these technologies for the future we want to create, to make sure we don’t end up being ruled by them.
4. Global interactions: we are increasingly connected through financial, emotional and intellectual networks. The global financial system has us in its grip, and we are developing new virtual worlds to meet and exchange. We need to explore this new interconnectedness and make it serve our needs.
5. Human wellbeing: a twenty-first century citizen will be educated very differently, and will function in fluid working environments. Security and health issues will be redefined. How will we experience our identity and authenticity in this environment? We must put human wellbeing at the centre of all our endeavours.
Michel Serres’ online hub
Photo: Anonymous by Anonymous9000, under Creative Commons