Are we doomed to fail as a civilization?
Published on March 19, 2020 here : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/we-doomed-fail-civilization-virginie-martins-de-nobrega/
Few thoughts based on a post related to the article ‘Four Reasons Civilization Won’t Decline: It Will Collapse’ by Craig Collins
The article above mentioned is an interesting read tackling 4 main reasons why our civilization is doomed to collapse.
I certainly agree with the facts, some hypotheses and this summary of our current political, sociological and economic situation worldwide. Despite being very polarized on our own national political and economic realms, wherever we are on the globe, we are all facing similar situations: escalation of conflicts and lack of constructive debates, rise of nationalism though that seems to have slightly stopped, exponential growth of investments in R&D for robotics and AI, dangerous predictive analytics hacking our elections e.g. Cambridge Analytica or unverified political ads on Facebook during a presidential campaign, fake news, targeting ads on our computers and inboxes based on algorithms determining what your psychological profile might be, environmental disasters and climate change… In times of civilization crisis where the business model of our whole system need to be improved, re-assessed and undoubtedly more respected in its spirit, the list goes on…
Yet, it seems that whatever the angle of analysis, we often seem to be caught between two theses: our civilization will disappear or our civilization will continue by stealing from the next generations. We also often conclude that all our global challenges are the symptoms of the failing of our democratic and capitalistic systems.
I believe there is still a clear distinction to make between a system not agile enough to adapt to the evolution of our societies – and therefore doomed to fail and disappear – and the backlash effects of the implementation and use of our democratic and capitalist systems by some, while a vast majority of us turn a blind eye caught up in our everyday life and challenges ignoring that rights, freedoms and the common interest have a cost.
Our current challenges are the symptoms of lack of our awareness and/or accountability over the last 15 years as engaged citizens. Notwithstanding the delegations of power and decision-making to our elected representatives, citizens have an active role to play (vote, referendums, standing against policies e.g. data policies, right to privacy, right to have a choice not determined by an algorithm…). It is not because a system is used to achieve certain goals that the system in itself is not valid nor capable of adapting itself to new parameters. On the contrary.
Certainly, a civilization that is not willing to preserve its own habitat face high probabilities to fail or to disappear. But are we doomed to disappear?
The coronavirus crisis gives us an opportunity to reset, to stand still for a while, to envision what type of society we want and to stop finding scapegoats in our institutions but rather to do better as citizens, as communities, as professionals and as nations. We also forget that nature is extremely resilient, that innovation can support new initiatives, that we can make different choices, that we can fight for democracy and our civilization like previous generation did before us.
During the US presidential campaign, the candidate Mrs. Marianne Williamson referred to the need to awaken to our current failures, to acknowledge them, to stand against them and to commonly raise for the occasion of our times.
I agree. Every steps count:
- less profits. We need money to promote human rights. The more money, the more investments you can make. Profits per se are not bad or good. It is more about our vision and its impact on the general interest.
- reduced margins or reasonable margins e.g. a tee shirt produced at 5-7 euros sold 100 euros does not enter into this category.
- more needs assessment and sustainable investments.
- more privacy or the right to have one.
- more respect for our ecosystem. And less consumption.
- pursuing private interests, but not to the detriment of the general interest.
- be more accountable.
- a stronger and even more innovative public sector whether at the multilateral or national level. To that regard, the narrative around the public sector does not reflect enough the profound transformations and innovations that had happened over the last 10 years.
- be responsible for our legacy. Do we want the new generations to be raised only by AI algorithms duplicating bias, inequalities and a lack of variety of opinions without realizing than previous generations – including us – had multiple choices to choose from even if the price to pay is to have a less customized ecosystem ? We develop a sense of self and a political awareness by being exposed to multiple opinions, new opinions and life circumstances. We are not only the product of social, economic and technology-driven determinism.
I am idealist, but I am awake.
I still think we can see a brighter future though major and drastic adjustments will need to be done. We are not entitled of democracy and of our civilization. We are entrusted with them. And we should certainly gather, brainstorm and together rise for the occasion.
Virginie MARTINS de NOBREGA