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This is the last issue before an IHP summer break till early September. On the 23rd of August, though, colleagues of mine will make a short newsletter, so stay tuned for that!
I’ll leave you for now with a short (& bleak) reflection 😊.
Against a rather worrying planetary and geopolitical backdrop (warning: understatement), it gets clearer and clearer by the day that mankind seems hellbent on “playing for God” in the 21st century. True, the nuclear era already started before halfway the 20th century, but in various scientific areas (AI, killer robots, gene drives, chimeras (human-animal hybrid embryos), mindreading by Facebook (huh), geoengineering, … and as this is not exactly my forte, I’m sure many more exciting “innovations” in plenty of areas are being explored as we speak), all bets really seem off now.
Why? Out of curiosity ( the scientific equivalent of ‘to boldly go where no man/woman has gone before’ ); “because we can”, now; to boost scientific careers; to boost the ‘competitiveness’ of countries in the global rat race between nations; because there’ll always be rogue (or semi-rogue) states who see some potential in new “cutting edge technologies” (Jason Bourne won’t correct me on this one); and last but not least, let’s face it, because political solutions for some wicked 21st century challenges won’t lead fast enough to the transformative change we need (I’m making abstraction for a moment from the “pollutocrats” in charge in far too many countries now, as they aren’t exactly looking for political “solutions”). Chances are thus that humanity will at some point throw everything at catastrophic planetary health (see geo-engineering), or other wicked problems spiraling out of control. In sum: the sky really is the limit in the 21st century. For better and for worse.
Whether this is a wise thing to do? Well, Homo Sapiens aren’t exactly known for being a wise species, as they have showcased throughout history (with a few notable exceptions, and although I readily admit one gender seems a tad wiser than the other). Now tell me, as a perfect storm is coming in our direction, why would we suddenly become any wiser?
No. In the 21st century, we’ll play for God. Many of us will also pray for God.
Enjoy your reading.