21 Lessons For The 21st Century is a book by the best selling author of Sapiens and Homo Deus summarising the economic, political, technological and social challenges facing humanity as we progress through the 21st century.
21 Lessons For The 21st Century by Yuval Noah Narari
21 Lessons For The 21st Century is a book exploring the near future of humanity.
Written in his trademark accessible style, the author looks at the dynamics of change shaping the modern world from artificial intelligence to fake news, terrorism to ecological catastrophe to disillusionment and optimism.
Rather than forecasting the future and providing the answers, this is a book that seeks to ask the right questions in the here and now, highlighting the areas of concern and opportunity that will shape humanity as we progress to 2050 and 2100.
Below are some of the key insights I took from this book:
- Humans primarily think in stories and narratives rather than abstract facts and statistical plots.
- Humanity is losing faith in the liberal narrative that closed out the 20th century prioritising freedom and equality of opportunity over fascism and communism.
- Despite this there is no compelling counter narrative, no eastern physics or Islamic chemistry to be found in the Chinese story or Global Islam.
- The technological challenge is that children growing up today might lose all their economic value as jobs are automated over the next three decades.
- Individual liberty is also under threat from big data powered algorithms which are likely to take most of the decision making out of our hands in the future.
- In such circumstances, equality of opportunity is likely to be restricted to those who are capable of mining the vast amounts of data gathered.
- Humans are losing touch with a sense of community as a result of online proliferation causing mental health problems and exacerbating social tensions.
- We live in an increasingly global world with a single civilization based on the role of a nation state rather than families, cities or tribes.
- At the start of the century, nationalism is resurgent suggesting that people are finding solace in the idea of imagined communities rather than global communities.
- The global power of religion is waning in all countries and its ability to divide and supersede nations is limited relative to the past.
- Debates over immigration are increasingly common reflecting doubts over assimilation, cultural supremacy and the desirability of multiculturalism.
- Terrorism retains the power to generate fear despite being the weapon of the weak against the strong. It is difficult to determine how important it will be when shaping human destiny.
- War is on the decline as nations increasingly realise the costs rather than the benefits of conquest via military action. A few exceptions remain [Russia/Ukraine]
- Humility is also lacking in the modern world with many individuals, nations and groups holding a mistaken belief in their own importance relative to the world.
- Secularism is increasingly potent replacing the narratives of religion and shaping human destiny towards a less violent and divided future.
- In the internet era our ability to understand and acquire knowledge is both accelerated and unable to capture everything leading to an era of post-truth and misinformation.
- As change accelerates, the genre of science fiction might be our best way to understand and interpret the fast changing world around us.
- In a fast moving world, education needs to adapt quickly and retool individuals with the skills to navigate a fast moving future.
- As in the past, humans always strive for meaning so it’s likely that myth and narrative will be used to shape our sense of purpose in the future as religions have created rituals over the years to substantiate their narratives.
- Individually, meditation serves a great purpose in providing the individual with clarity of purpose in a fast paced world. Many people are now acknowledging the health benefits of this practice for study, work and human happiness.