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Manifesto for a New Civilisation
Last Tuesday, January 28th, Fast Future organised a gathering for London-based futurists, change agents, big system thinkers and innovation enthusiasts to hear Jim Clark, the Founder of the World Technology Association (WTN). </mail/u/0/s/?view=att&th=143f94b3bef79218&attid=0.1&disp=emb&zw&atsh=1>
Jim delivered a thought-provoking talk outlining his ‘Manifesto for a New Civilisation’, challenging the audience to rethink the fundamental principles our civilisation is based on. Jim described the unprecedented level of change we are about to experience in the coming decade. He suggested that the current path we are on is utterly unsustainable and morally indefensible and proposed his high level ideas on a framework that he believes could help us create a new and better civilisation.
As we have been highlighting, the pace of technological change we are witnessing is extraordinary and is likely to continue to increase in the coming decades. Some observers believe more technological change is likely to happen in the next 20 years than in the last 200 years. For example, advances in science and technology could enable us to prevent and cure disease through genetic manipulation, enhance our brains or even upload and download a human mind. Indeed, research on life extension enables us to envision a day when we will be able to say that we may never die.
Jim argued that despite the big opportunities being created by scientific and technological advances, our civilisation is heading down a morally indefensible and unsustainable path. He highlighted that millions of people suffer in tremendous poverty and our entire ecosystem is at risk. Even the most moderate of UN consumption scenarios suggest that it takes 1.6 years to regenerate what we use in a year and the expectation is that this ratio could double by 2030. Clark went on to suggest that our capitalist system is an unsustainable house of cards. In his view, political systems around the world are also failing the majority of the population and education is still not accessible for millions of people around the world.
Jim argued that we need to leave behind 19th century thinking frameworks which are no longer adequate for the challenges of the 21st century. He proposed a framework for his view of a different and better civilisation based on a decagon consisting of 10 interconnected facets:
Religion and Spirituality
Food, Water and Environment
Political Systems & Government
Economics & Employment
Arts, Culture & Leisure
Housing and Community
Science and Technology
Jim argued that because civilisation is an ecosystem, the facets of the decagon should be perceived as interrelated. He suggested that in this framework we need to look at each aspect of society through the lens of the other aspects and that it is no longer sustainable to focus on one aspect only without taking the others into account. In Clark's view, by following this framework, we could make a transition to a new, sustainable and better civilisation. Some aspects of the new civilisation, as outlined by Jim, include:
A new world based on the principle that we have to protect the most those who are least able to defend themselves – children and the elderly.
A world ruled by politics of respect and dignity which is in harmony with our environment.
A future world where education is a seamless and life long experience bringing fulfilment and personal freedom.
A society where each citizen is supported and provided with financial resources.
At the end, Jim urged us to remember that if we are not directly involved in building the new civilisation, we are perpetuating the old one. Everyone could make a step – either big or small – and help us move towards the new civilisation and the more people who want to join forces, the better.
Clark's presentation inspired, agitated and irritated the audience in equal measure. There then followed heated and impassioned discussion about the power and viability of Jim's manifesto and the need for roadmaps and practical approaches to driving change. Repeating themes were the challenge of creating the governance frameworks and mindset shifts to scale up from experiments to widespread action and the extent to which grand ideas from the West could translate across the globe to variety of different cultural, social and economic contexts.
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