This century should be rather remarkable. We have the potential to end disease and poverty. We might decode ageing and live forever-young. Through the ever-growing power of genetic technology and bioengineering we could revive extinct species like the woolly mammoth. Intercity travel at the speed-of-sound in hyper-loop, vacuum sealed tubes may become the norm. We will develop machine intelligence that augments and far exceeds human capabilities, enabling us to achieve the unimaginable. We might even unlock the key to sustainable fusion power delivering carbon-free, pollution-free energy for millions of years; and, using a star-trek like compulsion system yoking fusion energy, we could pilot our course off Earth to explore far-away galaxies and live amongst shining constellations. But this vision of the future is far from secure. Achieving a remarkable century requires navigating complex transitions which are not without risk. Perhaps the greatest risk is that we fall short, failing to think big enough to make this century great for everyone.
This leads to a growing concern: We are living in a remarkable time in history, but it does not feel that way. To a growing majority, in fact, this century is feeling decidedly unremarkable.
It doesn’t feel remarkable for the millions of people caught in jam-packed commuter traffic as they struggle to work and home again; or for the families whose real wages have flatlined for the past three decades; or for the thousands who lose their jobs each time the boss decides to restructure; or for the millions of people who see the wealth inequality gap widening and whom globalisation has left behind.
It doesn’t feel remarkable for so many frustrated and disillusioned customers; or for people disengaged because of the dull drudgery of work; or for the graduates with huge debts entering a world of work with too few job opportunities and a property ladder that is out of reach; or for the business leaders who try unsuccessfully to pump up productivity and innovation in their company.
It doesn’t feel remarkable for the millions who vote for Brexit, Trump and Le Pen, showcasing a revolutionary rise in populism; or for the desperate families struggling in war torn cities like Aleppo and Mosul; or for the young Alan Kurdi and thousands of desperate migrants washed up on Mediterranean beaches drowned, forgotten.
We are living in a remarkable time in history. But there is a problem. It doesn’t feel that way
Because we have given up on thinking big; we have given up on doing remarkable things. We have decided that we do not need to have grand visions or grand goals. We have been conned into believing that innovation is waiting for the next iteration of a Samsung product – hopefully one that doesn’t explode on impact.
This post is an excerpt from TomorrowToday’s latest white paper: