7 concerns from some of the brightest minds

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Robert Maurer
@robertmaurer
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Every year, the digital magazine Edge asks some of the world's leading scientists, techies and writers to answer a simple question. This year the question was, "What should we worry about?" The interesting thing is that, beyond the obvious cultural and professional differences, many of these people have shown similar concerns, most of them related to the nature of human beings, their lifestyle and their future projections.

  1. Modern digital technologies are destroying our patience and changing our perception of time - Nicholas G. Carr, writer

- "I fear that the more the power of technology in solving problems increases, the more our ability to distinguish between important, trivial or even non-existent problems will deteriorate" - Evgeny Morozov, editor, Foreign Policy



- I'm afraid you literally lose contact with the physical world - Christine Finn Archaeologist

- I'm afraid you spend too much time on social networks - Marcel Kinsbourne, Neurologist

- I fear that we can no longer live without the internet - Daniel C. Dennett, philosopher

Without a doubt, technology and all that it entails is slowly changing our perception of the world and life. Now we have developed a greater sense of urgency, we want everything to be quick, immediate, we have become more impatient. We want everything here and now, without stopping to analyze too deeply the cost that this entails.
Obviously, becoming a victim of myopic presentism is not the best prospect imaginable.

  1. We should be concerned about the incredible psychological gap that separates humanity from nature - Scott Sampson, paleontologist

 

- We should be concerned about the utter arrogance of mankind - Jessica L. Tracy, professor of psychology.



The gradual departure from nature is based on the belief (unconsciously implanted in us by the various Western religious traditions) that we are superior to animals and that the world belongs to us. However, this is actually not the case. We are part of the world, in the same way
which is an ant or an elephant, the only difference is that our actions can have a greater impact on nature. Therefore, instead of taking arrogant positions through excessive technological development, we may be wondering how we can live in harmony with nature.

  1. I'm concerned about the homogenization of human experience - Scott Atran, anthropologist

 

In the last few decades we have fought wildly to be similar to others, to have their own goods and to have the same experiences. However, we don't realize that every person is different, unique. We must remember that it is precisely the differences that enhance us.

  1. I am concerned about "The Black Swan Theory", and the fact that we depend on models that have proven to be fraudulent - Nassim Nicholas Taleb, philosopher and financial mathematician

 

- It worries me that our brains cannot conceive what our most serious problems are - Daniel Goleman, psychologist.

For the uninitiated, the black swan theory says that, roughly, when an event represents a huge surprise for those who experience it and has a great impact on this person, in the end the individual rationalizes it and thinks with hindsight. who could have predicted what happened. The most obvious example is the current financial crisis, but we are also victims of this phenomenon in our daily life. The problem is that if we continue to analyze events using the wrong model, understood as: unrealistic expectations or too rigid attitudes, we will always be victims of such events and, even worse, we will blame ourselves for not having foreseen and anticipated them. This is the easiest way to live a life full of regrets.



  1. I am concerned about the vaccination attempt against all difficulties - Adam Alter, psychologist

 

Our society tries at all costs to avoid suffering and difficulties; however, it is in these situations when the person grows and matures. In the face of adversity, one learns to be resilient and to develop skills that one never thought one had. It is a radical change of perspective because it means considering the problems and obstacles along the path of our life as opportunities to grow.


  1. I am concerned about society's inability to think about uncertainty and accept it - Aubrey De Gray, gerontologist

 

We live in an age full of uncertainty, but we didn't realize it or we didn't want to. Uncertainty is part of our life and the sooner we accept it, the sooner we can get rid of the anxiety of control that generates so much stress.

  1. It worries me that we worry too much - Joseph LeDoux, neuroscientist

 

Interestingly, at least a dozen scientists have said their biggest concern is that we worry too much. Of course, the worry seems to be very endemic to our culture and the fact is that it also consumes a lot of our resources.


As a final note, I leave you with a reflection from Tim O'Reilly, president and founder of O'Reilly Media, who will make us look up from our private garden to see things from a more objective point of view: "Now, for the first time in history, we have only one global civilization.
If this fails, we all fail together !? "

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