The evaluation of the XX century
Ivo Šlaus
Achievements and success
☺Progress in science and novel understanding, e.g.:
quantum physics; theory of relativity: special and
general; Standard model and its limitations: WMAP:
only 4% of ordinary matter, 23% dark matter (?), 73%
dark energy (?), age of our universe =13.7± 0.3 Gyear.
Paradigmatic change!
nanosciences and their relevance in many areas;
DNA; advent of genetic engineering; advances in life
sciences; brain research
advances in chemistry and geosciences;
advances in psychology and social sciences
☺Consilience – advances in all sci disciplines,
interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity.
☺Advances in technology, e.g.:
Information-communication technology (ICT);
advances in life science technologies: CT, PET,
MRI, synthetic biology.
☺”New scientific disciplines”, e.g. nuclear
medicine, bioarchaelogy, scientometrics.
☺Our understanding and construction of
instruments, and development of novel
institutions, e.g.
LHC; Planck satellite;
☼ rapid chages, τ (change) < τ (human lifespan),
and much faster than ever
☼ globalization
☼ interconnectedness of the world
☺ much longer life expectancy and longer healthy
active life duration (thruout the world)→
demographic transition
☺increased quality of life (thruout the world)
☺increased freedom in the world (are our
measurement reliable?)
The contemporary world:
◙ globalization – science generated
Th. Friedman: 3 phases of globalization: 1) driven by states,
2) by states and MNC and 3) by and empowering individuals
◙ rapid changes – science generated
(♥ we would be amoebas if there were no change)
◙ characterized by uncertainties and instabilities
◙ number of Earths required to provide resources used by
humanity and to absorb their emissions for each year:
1970 1980
2005 2007 Goal: 2050
0.86 1.00
1.00 (???)
World is dangerously in a state of overshoot.
◙ Increasing dissatisfaction of the public with governance
☼“People are the real wealth of nations. The
basic aim of development is to enlarge
human freedom and choices so that people
live full and creative lives. This must benefit
everybody equitably.”
The State of Human Development, Human development
indicators, 2004, p.127, UNDP
☼ We add: people - healthy, educated, active
and happy, living in a society of social
justice and social cohesion in a healthy
environment assuring sustainable
development. Not less - not more.
Humans ← biological and cultural evolution  humans change, and
humans change the world they live in, (Crutzen) current
geological epoch: Anthropocene.
Intertwining humans ↔ machine+synthetic bio
Leadership in a rapidly changing world
Economy – some results of the 20.c.
Model of employment (low empl. rate?!)
Retirement system –incompatible with demographic transition
Price ≠ production cost (eg oil – govnt taxes, advertis., etc)
Annual intl financial flow = 114 x values of goods and servic traded
Money (as knowledge increases by using, creative power, out of
control, “Common currency” – suggested in 1987 by R. Cooper
and supported by R. Mundell, 2000)
Deregulation ↔ Regulation ↔ Global regulation
Progress and Public opinion
Enormous progress has been achieved:
- in 1893 only New Zealand could be considered a true
- in 1972 there were 43 free, 38 partly free and 69 not free
-in 2002 there were 89 free countries, 56 partly free and 47
not free.
and yet
Citizens are not satisfied with their political systems.
Gallup International's May 2005 Voice of the People survey of
50,000 citizens across 65 countries on 6 continents results
statistically representative of the views of 1.4 billion citizens.
Only 7% of the respondents strongly agree with the
statement that the world is going in the right
direction, and additional 23% somewhat agree with
that statement, a mere 30% to be compared with
36% in the year 2001.
61%: globalization has a positive effect on them/ their families
increased from 2001 when it has been 55%.
20.c is a measured century.
Feasibility, Reliability and Uncertainty
Robustness  INDICATORS  Input / Output
(GDP, HDI ) quantitative ↔ qualitative (case studies)
Inadequacies of GDP  HDI, ISEW, GPI,...?
Beyond GDP - EU and CoR, Nov 2007
R.F. Kennedy “ We will find neither national purpose nor
personal satisfaction in an endless amassing if worldly
goods. We cannot measure national achievements by
GDP, since GDP includes air pollution, cigarette
advertisement and ambulances to clear our highways
after carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and
jails for people who break them. GDP includes
destruction of redwoods and of Lake Superior. GDP
grows with the production of napalm and nuclear
warheads. It does not include the health of our families,
the quality of their education, it is indifferent to the safety
of our streets... In short, GDP measures everything except
what makes life worthwhile.”
Failures and problems characterizing the 20.c.
♠ Use of war, military and violence.
During 20.c. 400 million men, women and children killed by
their own governments, more than during wars (Rummel).
States do not seem to be capable of protecting their own
citizens, nor assuring them their basic human needs.
♠ Failure of governance – mission impossible?
About 200 nation(so caled)-states + 600,000 TNC
(with wealth often larger than some medium nationstates) + 50,000 international civil society
organizations + 5,000-10,000 different cultures
(languages - 90% with less than 10,000 persons).
♠ Old tools from old box still used, e.g. balance of power,
deterence, enemies and friends concept.
♠ Clash of civilizations (of cultures??)
♠ New enemies and new problems: terrorism.
♠ Decrease in social capital.
♠ Social cohesion: Inequality compatible with the axiom
“people are the wealth of nations”
Plato: common good  ratio rich : poor = 5:1,
J.P. Morgan: bosses should have not more than 20 times
the salary of their workers.
Global Inequalities Fades as Global Economy Grows ?!
Xavier Sala-i-Martin 2002
- it is more than democracy since no tyranny of majority,
- but, irrationality of the crowd, even tyranny of the mob
- reality vs virtuality
Free market ?
financial instability → economic crisis
demographic transition → 10 G → 2G
climate change ← anthropocene
(Rodrigo Rato, Annual Conf CoR,Madrid 2007)
Many dangers and threats are recent, and many new
will appear. Many recent opportunities and options,
and new will appear.
Future = predicted events + surprises → Scenaria
• New ideas, new tools are required to cope with
issues in the 21.c. – and age different from
anything experienced and populated by humans changing and yet deeply rooted in their huntergatherer past.
1) Business-as-usual (never fully realizes)
2) Meadows et al(math.model diff.eqs, t-dependence of 45
variables and their interdependence). 1972 Limits to growth
3) The Heaven Scenario
Ray Kurzweil “Singularity is near”: conquering disease & poverty,
technology is in control, but wisdom, truth, ... peace?
4) The Hell Scenario
Bill Joy “Why the future does not need us”, F. Fukuyama “Our
posthuman future”: hostile world, destroying biosphere.
5) The Prevail Scenario
Jaron Zepel Lanier (named “virtual reality”) “The Future that Loves
Us”: increasing links among humans, transcendence is social, not
solitary. Human are choosing their future.
6) Self-organized Mapping Neural network model
(Najdovski, Zidanšek, Šlaus)
Gordian knot
Did successes of science resulting in technological
power embedded in our hunter-gatherer
framework create a knot, a contradiction, a threat
to our own existence?
How to overcome it? Is there an Alexandrian
solution? Can it be?
☺“As never before, the future of each one of us
depends on the good of all”- Nobel laureates 2000
☺“Our safety, our prosperity indeed our freedom are
indivisible.” (Kofi Annan, 2005)
☺ «Any effective reform in the structure of the world
must be accompanied by changes in the thinking of
people...People must be educated to an identity with
and responsibility for all humanity.» (A. Peccei et al,
Dubrovnik-Philadelphia declaration 1974-76)
The greatest obstacles are individual and social inner
limits - psychological, cultural and political expressed
through personal and collective myopia, irresponsibility
and incorrect governance. “The most valuable assets
humankind can count stop the decline and to
prepare for the future are to be found in the still
untapped resources of comprehension, vision and
creativity..inherent in every human being.”
A. Peccei, Agenda for the End of the Century, March 14, 1984