The great physicist Stephen Hawking was quoted as saying, in his millennium interview on 23 January 2000, that “… the next century will be the century of complexity”.
Some of the significant reasons for this complexity are the exponential growth in scientific and technological development, including artificial intelligence, the increase in the human population and the subsequent consumption demands.
Complexity creates challenges.
Heading the list of the 17 Great Challenges of the 21st Century, prepared by James Martin, founder of the 21st Century Institute and the Institute for Science and Civilisation, both at Oxford University, are the following more obvious ones:
- Saving the Earth
- Reversing poverty
- Steadying population growth
- Achieving sustainable lifestyles
- Preventing all-out war
- Defusing terrorism
- Cultivating creativity
- Conquering disease
- Expanding human potential
Both #7 and #9 seem obvious when one understands that with the increase in technology, including artificial intelligence, more and more jobs (both physical and mental) that are currently undertaken by humans will be replaced by machines. This will inevitably lead to unemployment, as well as the lack of meaningful work, which will have enormous consequences on the health and well-being of our communities and societies. Our learning institutions need to help us to develop and nurture the skills that make us ‘human’ (i.e. our “emotional intelligence” as opposed to “artificial intelligence” that gives us the competitive advantage against machines).
James Martin concluded his list of 17 Great Challenges of the Twenty-First Century with the challenge of bridging the skill and wisdom gap (#17) and identifies this as a serious problem. Whilst science and technology are accelerating, wisdom is not. This is because skills offer ways to become wealthy. There is a great need to reflect on why we are doing what we are doing and what the long-term consequences will be of what we are doing.
In his 2000 interview, Stephen Hawking made some interesting predictions, including space travel and the ability to increase the complexity of human DNA without having to wait for the slow process of biological evolution. He recommended that the human race needs to improve its mental and physical qualities in order to deal with the increasingly complex world around it and meet new challenges.
Each of us experiences the complexity and challenges of the 21st Century on a daily basis, in both our personal and our business lives. We are required to grapple with the opportunities (and the challenges) that this increase in complexity brings. We at TMSA would like to help you to achieve simplicity within the complexity of your business environment by providing products that are user-friendly and cost-effective with a service that exceeds your expectations.
- Gorban, A.N; Yablonsky, GS. 2013, Grasping Complexity.
- Martin, J. 2007, The Meaning of the 21st Century.