What does it take to fix the world? The smart people at Singularity University has given this question a great deal of though, and they’ve identified nine major challenges that I’d like to share with you below.
At Singularity University’s startup accelerator SU LABS they aim to solve these challenges “by leveraging the power of exponential technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, synthetic biology and digital fabrication (to name a few), combined with design thinking and empathy”
Not surprisingly, the grand challenges that mankind as a whole is facing are the same challenges you and I and everyone else on this planet are facing every day as individuals. Putting food on the table, staying healthy, staying safe, making sure our kids get the best education possible, keeping your job, getting a job, keeping the lights on, and so on.
Here they are:
Transforming a sector that must supply for the needs of our growing population while also promoting healthy nutrition and sustainable resource management practices.
Personalized lifelong learning for all—from early childhood to remedial and continuing education—empowered by connectivity and shrinking barriers of language or location.
Ensuring safe, reliable water and access to sanitation for all people; developing efficient use of existing water resources; and developing new potable water resources.
Designing reliable and predictable physical, financial, social, governmental and informational networks; and protecting people and infrastructure from immediate dangers.
Ensuring basic health care access, accelerating medical breakthroughs and cures, and shifting towards preventative care to ensure physical and emotional wellbeing for people around the world.
Reliable, clean energy for diverse needs—from families to factories, and from fields to skyscrapers — creating an essential foundation for health, education, transportation and business.
Developing solutions for sustainable environments and vibrant earth systems, from remediation to preservation at local-to-global scales.
Eradicating extreme poverty and ensuring basic needs and socio-economic opportunities for all human beings.
Creating the pathway towards humanity’s destiny as a multi-planetary species, and developing the technology and resources for space exploration to address global needs and threats.
What’s your thoughts about these challenges?
I’d love to know. Here’s a hint from Albert Einstein that I think has more than a grain of truth in it:
“We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.” A. Einstein
My thought is that modern technology will likely be part of the solution. After all it’s only thanks to modern technology that I can share this with you.
But technology is no magic pill. We already have the knowledge and technology to solve most of these problems. What’s lacking is the global consciousness and will to execute.
Knowledge is not lacking. Execution is.
As the founder of Permaculture, Bill Mollison, put it:
“We know how to solve every food, clean energy, and sensible shelter problem in every climate; we have already invented and tested every necessary technique and technical device, and have access to all the biological material that we could ever use.
The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy, and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them.”
I also think that decentralization and individual empowerment is the way forward, as opposed to seeing more money and power be centralized in global institutions.
All of these nine global grand challenges, except possibly for #9, can be solved at the local community level, and this change can take place much quicker with a bottom-up movement compared to the top-down change that politicians can force on people.
Want to help fix the world? Start with yourself and take care of your family, and you’ll be an inspiration for others to follow.