CENTRE FOR FUTURE THINKING

CENTRE FOR FUTURE THINKING

Yuval Noah Harari on what the year 2050 has in store for humankind

“As the pace of change increases, the very meaning of being human is likely to mutate and physical and cognitive structures will melt”

Part one: Change is the only constant
Humankind is facing unprecedented revolutions, all our old stories are crumbling and no new story has so far emerged to replace them. How can we prepare ourselves and our children for a world of such unprecedented transformations and radical uncertainties? A baby born today will be thirty-something in 2050. If all goes well, that baby will still be around in 2100, and might even be an active citizen of the 22nd century. What should we teach that baby that will help him or her survive and flourish in the world of 2050 or of the 22nd century? What kind of skills will he or she need in order to get a job, understand what is happening around them and navigate the maze of life?

Part two: The heat is on
Besides information, most schools also focus too much on providing pupils with a set of predetermined skills such as solving differential equations, writing computer code in C++, identifying chemicals in a test tube or conversing in Chinese. Yet since we have no idea how the world and the job market will look in 2050, we don’t really know what particular skills people will need. We might invest a lot of effort teaching kids how to write in C++ or how to speak Chinese, only to discover that by 2050 AI can code software far better than humans, and a new Google Translate app enables you to conduct a conversation in almost flawless Mandarin, Cantonese or Hakka, even though you only know how to say “Ni hao”.

Part three: Hacking humans
So the best advice I could give a 15-year-old stuck in an outdated school somewhere in Mexico, India or Alabama is: don’t rely on the adults too much. Most of them mean well, but they just don’t understand the world. In the past, it was a relatively safe bet to follow the adults, because they knew the world quite well, and the world changed slowly. But the 21st century is going to be different. Due to the growing pace of change, you can never be certain whether what the adults are telling you is timeless wisdom or outdated bias.
Excerpts from https://www.wired.co.uk/article/yuval-noah-harari-extract-21-lessons-for-the-21st-century