RethinkX has produced a provocative publication entitled, Rethinking Humanity, by James Arbib and Tony Seba, June 2020. They argue that a New Age of Freedom awaits us but assert that this future is by no means predetermined. I have something to say about that.
We are on the cusp of the fastest, deepest, most consequential transformation
of human civilization in history, a transformation every bit as significant
as the move from foraging to cities and agriculture 10,000 years ago.
— James Arbig & Tony Seba
I was made aware of Rethinking Humanity through a dear Hindu friend who enticed me to study the text with him. His observation that this writing highlights a future with significantly reduced cruelty on our planet drew me in.
I recommend you taking the time to read this publication. It is thoughtful, gentle yet assertive, and well-written. It offers some of the most reliable complex adaptive systems modelling that I have come across in the Consultancy world.
Rethinking Humanity reminds us that technological innovations, such as the motor car, or the smart phone, arose quickly and radically changed our lifestyles. They came about through the convergence of many other innovations that made the new concept possible. The indirect social and economic consequences were surprising, and change occurred in noticeably short periods. Such innovations become demanded by the customer initially due to novelty, followed by a reduction in costs, and significantly enhanced convenience. Demand-led acceleration by the citizen’s investment choices seems to create more radical and lasting change than any democratic process.
10X Cost Reductions Over the Next 10-20 Years
The authors predict that over the next 10-20 years, the rapid convergence of multiple technologies will inevitably enhance our ability to manage information, energy, food, transportation, and materials. Cost reductions of typically 10X are expected to be the norm. Efficiency will increase 10X with 90% fewer natural resources being utilized and 10X – 100X less waste. Above all else, the meshing together of these technologies will lead to the possibility of localized creation of goods and services. This economic imperative could contribute significantly to what the authors describe as a New Age of Freedom.
This Age of Freedom is characterized as a possible shift from a world of scarcity to abundance, from resource- extraction to biological-creation, and from centralized existence to localized living. The authors clearly recognize that large scale social change is never the domain of technology or economic forces alone. The invitation from this work is to utilize new ways of organizing ourselves to navigate our Civilisation through what promises to temporary yet turbulent times.
Fast Recovery of Earth’s Ecosystem is Possible
I found myself drawn into a deep pondering of what if this were true, and how would I address the gaps in what is written? Within me, a pause button had been activated. It took a few days.
I can now imagine that if we choose to seize the opportunity presented by the convergence of these new technologies to fund and legitimize the new era transition, whilst also choosing to utilize latent, complexity aware, ecological, cultural, and spiritual wisdom to define the social boundary conditions and policies, then the beneficial social and ecological impact will be immense. Within 3 decades, within my lifetime, I can imagine that hunger, poverty, mass migrations of people, and the reason for war over finite natural resources could all be gone. My Hindu friend is probably right too in that wilful cruelty in the name of economic progress will be unnecessary. I can imagine the fastest recovery and regeneration of Earth’s Ecosystem. I can imagine us assuming our role in The Universe as a viable species on an ecologically vibrant planet.
Are 8 billion earthlings poised to embrace this opportunity to move from human doing to human being? This I believe, is what Rethinking Humanity is enquiring about. I interpret its foundational message to be that this next phase of technological opportunity requires new ways of thinking about how we organize ourselves, our societies, and our Civilisation.
New Age of Freedom
Perhaps this transition to a new era is what William Morris had a premonition of when, in the late 1880’s, he projected himself into the late 21st Century through the eyes of the lead character, William Guest, in his paradigm inverting essay entitled, News from Nowhere. After a particularly challenging day in the late 1800’s, William Guest struggled to imagine anew way forward. “if I could but see it” he implored repeatedly whilst falling asleep. On awakening he was in a utopian Nowhere. Perhaps what is now here is an awakening into a New Age of Freedom.
I am left with a question: ‘Are we ready to go off the present map of Civilisation with volition and redefine everything we believed to be true?’ More importantly, are you ready, willing, and able?
Rethinking Humanity, and some associated documents with videos, are available for download through Tony Seba’s website tonyseba.com.