Big words get thrown around a lot these days – but what do they really mean? Sapienship’s Wordbook casts new light on terms like Climate change, CRISPR and artificial intelligence.
Just for fun, we’ve also thrown our Devil’s Dictionary: satirical definitions of the same words, to delight the devious devil on everyone’s shoulder.
A set of practices used to systemically grow plants and raise animals for human use or consumption. Its development, around 11,000 years ago, allowed humans to gradually abandon their previous hunter-gatherer existence and live in settled communities. Agriculture reduced the range of foods that humans ate, leaving them overly dependent on specific crops and grains in particular. With the advent of modern agronomy, agriculture has become a science based on the use of artificial fertilizers, genetic modification, and pesticides. This in turn has led to the loss of biodiversity, the destruction of pristine environments, the degradation of soil and the acceleration of climate change. At the same time, sustainable agriculture initiative across the planet aim to reverse that process and ensure a healthier future for humans and for the planet.
Agriculture is the only correct answer to the question: “if you could go back in time to 11,000 years ago, what would you tell people to never invent?”
A list of instructions that a computer program follows to obtain a result from given input. These instructions may come from a human developer or from another algorithm. Some algorithms can even modify themselves. AI (Artificial Intelligence) applications use algorithms to parse the volumes of data generated by online users in order to decide which content to show the users or the most effective ways to engage with them, thus creating a system that can know people better than they know themselves. See also: Screen Lock S1 E1 | Tasmanian Tiger
A set of rules designed to help computers individually convince Homo sapiens to purchase products they absolutely need to have right now.
An informal unit of geological time used to describe the epoch in which Homo sapiens’ activity started to change the Earth’s geology and ecosystems, including the ongoing climate crisis and species extinctions. The word Anthropocene is derived from the Greek anthropos meaning “man” and cene meaning “new”. There are at least nine different debated dates for the beginning of the Anthropocene. Some say it started at the beginning of the Agricultural Revolution, while others believe it began with the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, when the atmosphere started filling with greenhouse gasses. A third group thinks it began in 1945, when humans first used atomic weapons, producing radioactive particles which have been detected in soil samples all around the world. At the beginning of the 21st century, it’s hard to ignore the implications of this human epoch, and some urgent questions arise: Can we harness the same forces that transformed the Earth to make it a better place to live for humans and other life forms? Will the Anthropocene ever end? What can we do to mitigate the Anthropocene's effects?
A geological record of human achievement, composed primarily of plastics and radioactive particles.
Machines that are able to perform complex tasks usually performed by humans, in a way that is typically considered "intelligent", meaning that the machine’s actions depend on their environment and maximize their chance of achieving a certain goal. Well known examples include Google's search algorithm or Facebook's algorithm that chooses what content to show the user. At the moment, all AI applications are so-called "narrow AI" - AI that specializes in one particular task. Even if it is not clear whether we will, one day, be able to create a "general AI", the possibilities offered by narrow AI are already enough to lead to major disruptions - from face recognition with potential use in mass surveillance to self-autonomous weapons; from self-driving cars to AI doctors, all of these uses hypothetically creating unemployment for millions of people. See also: Knowledge Nuggets | Are These People Real or AI?
A concept Homo sapiens were not intelligent enough to stop in time
The variety of life on Earth; the diversity of different species, genetic diversity within species, and the diversity of ecosystems. The loss of biodiversity means a decrease in this variability. Individual entities within a species are usually genetically similar to each other. If the number of different species decrease, ecosystems become less diverse. Biodiversity at all levels is important because this variability is the key to the resilience of life on earth and adaptability to changing conditions. Currently, biodiversity all over the world is being threatened by human activities leading to habitat loss, pollution, overexploitation, the introduction of invasive species, and climate change. However, human beings depend on biodiversity for their own survival too as it provides us with food, filters our water, and creates the oxygen we breathe. Moreover, epidemics are less likely to arise when biodiversity is high, as the balance between the different species prevents pathogens from becoming too numerous. It is also crucial for our psychological and cultural well-being.
An economic system which emerged in the early modern era, based on private or corporate ownership of property, assets and means of production; and free markets in which these owners can trade their assets as they choose, in keeping with the principle of supply and demand. It is associated with democracy and with the rise in standards of living in many countries, but also with unrestrained and unsustainable economic growth, which comes at the cost of global equity and the environment. Alternative economic systems, such as communism, have not historically been successful, but as rampant capitalism continues to ravage the planet and fuel climate change, there is increasingly widespread criticism of its unsustainable pursuit of infinite growth on a finite planet.
A clever trick pulled by money to fool humans into making more of it.
The alteration or transformation of an object or an event from one state to another. The mere reality of this has been a heated philosophical debate for millennia. In the 21st century, when disruptive technologies and ecological collapse have made stability and stasis obsolete, change has become an obvious and fundamental part of human life, and the adjustment to it is a core value in the labor market.
The only constant in the universe. It is constantly ignored.
Any human society which reaches a particular level of complexity and development. In its broadest definition, civilization refers to the societies which emerged following the agricultural revolution, and featured settled urban communities, communal activities, systems of government and the development of cultural or spiritual practices. More narrow definitions of civilization have often been used to discriminate, denigrate or even seek to eradicate human societies perceived to be of lower cultural achievement or refinement, especially during the age of Imperialism.
A method for relieving the boredom of wandering wherever you like and doing whatever you want by living in cramped conditions, doing the same things every day.
The ongoing global catastrophe of climate change. Since the industrial revolution, massive emissions of greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide, methane, or nitrous oxide) are modifying the Earth's climate by increasing temperatures at an unprecedented speed. The average temperature of the planet has already increased by about 1.1°C and the consequences are seen all around the world with uncontrolled and unpredictable wildfires, exceptional flooding, severe droughts and record temperatures all becoming more frequent. Every increase in global warming intensifies these effects and their impact on human societies. Rising sea levels, crop failures, and extreme weather fluctuations exacerbate conflicts, reduce food and water access, force increasing numbers of the most vulnerable into poverty, and lead hundreds of millions of people to become climate refugees.
A story told by people who, for some reason, hate dying from water shortages and hot temperatures.
A state of refusal to accept that the climate of the planet is changing adversely due to manmade causes. It manifests itself as either vehement and conspiratorial denial, or else as a simple lack of concern about the future of the climate. Climate denial obstructs attempts to address the crisis developing on a global level.
The lack of concern expressed by a frog in a pot of slowly boiling water.
A term used to describe awareness of one’s own existence, of the external world and of the thoughts and feelings that arise internally. It is a notion one has intuitively, but it is difficult to define and has been subject to philosophical and scientific controversy for millennia. Even today, there are more questions than answers. A core debate is whether consciousness actually exists, and if so, what constitutes it: Is it merely the result of electrical signals shooting through the brain, or is there more to it? And in any case, why does the state of consciousness arise in the first place? What purpose does it fulfill? Do plants and microbes have consciousness? Should we treat other beings on Earth by the degree of consciousness they have? In the 21st century, consciousness plays a crucial role in man-machine interfaces and the development of AI. For example, can a machine be truly intelligent without having consciousness? Can consciousness arise in machines? Can chips implanted in our brains or fMRI reveal our consciousness, and can telepathy be achieved by linking the brain to a computer?
A pesky little thing that keeps humans up at night thinking thoughts like: Who am I? Who is the I asking this question? Wait, who’s asking who is the I asking this question? Who’s there? Hello?
A gene-editing technology which allows precise alteration of a sequence of DNA inside a cell. The implications are dramatic: from eliminating genetic disorders to the creation of genetically designed babies. By way of selecting edited DNA sequences this technology can alter the future of humanity. One of the main fears is that only wealthy individuals will be able to afford CRISPR treatments enabling them to produce tall, beautiful, and healthy babies, thus creating a caste of superhumans, while leaving the rest of the human kind with an outdated set of “flawed” genes.
A gene-editing technology that makes power and beauty a part of wealthy people’s DNA.
Sets of values, facts, statistics and information about a person or an object. In the 21st century, data contracted from the use of electronic media is one of the most sought after and valuable commodities. Political and commercial entities compete for the ability to gather as much data as they can, in order to extract and analyze it, so as to accurately predict and to manipulate people’s desires and intentions. The worldview that sees everything as composed of data is called Dataism, and as it becomes more and more socially accepted, people put their trust in the ability of algorithms to make an increasing number of decisions for them, based on their data. This puts privacy, transparency and even free will at risk.
A 21st century answer to the age-old philosophical question: “what is the universe made of”.
Images and videos of fake events created using artificial intelligence technologies; faces and voices can be manipulated to appear as authentic. This can be seen in fake, but realistic, videos of people supposedly engaged in sexual activities which are then used for blackmail, or in fake videos of politicians appearing to say things that, in reality, they never said. Recently, AI-based software was used to impersonate a chief executive’s voice to obtain a fraudulent transfer of 220,000€. Deepfake videos and images are another brick in the fake wall. Already, in social media, it is impossible to tell if a post was written by a human being or by an AI. This raises many concerns since if digital content can be falsified, how can we know what is true and authentic and what not? If deepfakes can be created and spread at will, what does it mean for democracy?
An umbrella term for different technologies that blend the virtual with the physical. Virtual reality is a simulated reality usually experienced through a VR headset, while augmented reality is an interactive experience which adds layers of digital information to the real world. These technologies have applications in medical treatment, gaming, commerce and more. In the early 20s of the 21st century it is still unclear to what degree these technologies will be a part of everyday human life, but Big Tech companies believe this to be the future of how their users will experience the world. This raises many concerns. For instance, if humans walk around with glasses or lenses that project digital information onto the real world, how can they distinguish between the digital and the real, and who can guarantee that the information projected is beneficial and accurate? Companies such as Meta (Facebook) already have patents that save and analyze data gathered from the eye movement of users. How can we ensure that these VR and AR tools will not be used to manipulate people in their daily lives? See also: Screen Lock S1 E1 | Football Practice
The belief that women should have equal rights. Over the years, this set of ideologies and movements has transformed and revolutionized the world, mostly (but not exclusively) in the global north and west. Thanks to feminism, women were given the right to vote, work, own property, receive education, run for public office, and be recognized as individuals. Although in many countries women are still discriminated against, and many societies and economies are biased towards men, even in places where feminism has a strong hold. Feminism is an example of a how a non-violent revolution can change the world.
Stories humans tell to create power structures that do not exist in nature. Creating imaginary structures is a uniquely human attribute, which allows people to form societies larger than an individual family or tribe. These fictions allow us to believe in shared laws and deities, trade goods for money and pledge allegiance to a flag representing a country. However, laws, deities, money and countries have no meaning if people do not share a belief in them. Distinguishing fictions from things that exist outside human imagination prevents blindly following imagined orders that do not benefit one's interests.
The act of modifying the Earth's climate. It includes many different aspects, some of which are large-scale carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation modification (SRM). CDR consists of either removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it either in geological formations or in the soil; or of chemically modifying the oceans so that they store more carbon (an approach known as ocean fertilization). This raises both durability (how long the carbon will remain outside the atmosphere) and safety issues (leakage of toxic gas, ecosystem destruction, etc.). SRM aims at cooling the Earth by decreasing the intensity of the solar heat through the injection of aerosols into the high atmosphere or through the modification of the brightness or the thickness of some clouds. SRM could have many negative impacts: high-speed global warming if SRM were suddenly stopped, the alteration of rainfall patterns and atmospheric circulation, the weakening of monsoons, an increase in the depletion of the ozone layer, etc. As geoengineering cannot be tested in a lab environment, there is no way to know in advance what might happen if it were deployed in the real world. How should we decide who can deploy it? When, where, and under which circumstances? What would happen if a country deployed such a technology leading to negative effects for other countries? Geoengineering may also be a distraction from the burning issues of ecological collapse and climate change, making us believe that there might be a technology that could miraculously "solve" these "problems", therefore delaying meaningful action.
An ideology that emphasizes the things that unite Homo sapiens all over the world, and the urgent need for countries, organizations and people to work together to solve the challenges facing humanity in the 21st century, including wars, pandemics, climate change and technological disruptions. These phenomena do not recognize borders or nationalities, and as global interdependence is increasingly based on trade and the use of the internet, it has become practically impossible for any nation to “fly solo”.
Genetically modified organisms describe any organisms which have been subjected to genetic engineering. Using techniques such as CRISPR, genetic engineers aim to insert genes with desirable characteristics into the genome of existing microbes, plants or animals. This can result in crops which are immune to pests, are more productive, or have other preferred traits, such as height, beauty or certain colors. Opponents argue that GMO production may pose risks to the environment and the health of both humans and natural crops and animals. Additionally, the possibility of copyrighting or owning a resulting GMO means that large agribusinesses and other gene engineers could obtain 'patents on life'.
The outcome of the combination between AI and biotechnology. Today, corporations and governments gather enormous quantities of data about our behavior including where we go, what we search for online, and what we buy, and analyze this information to form a clearer picture of what we are likely to do next. When this data is combined with information about what is happening inside our body and our brain - data gathered from fitness trackers or fMRI, for example - companies and governments may be able to predict our choices, understand our feelings, and manipulate us in ways we cannot begin to understand.
The ongoing and devastating destruction of the environment, landscapes and biospheres, which has been happening during the Holocene, the current geological epoch, beginning around 10,000 BCE. During this epoch the human species began to grow and proliferate. This had devastating impacts on the natural environment that linger to this day, which is why many scientists and philosophers name our current epoch the Anthropocene. This extinction is considered to be the sixth mass extinction in Earth's history, and it brings with it particular concern towards the incessant 'great die-off' of plant and animal species. It has a number of causes, including agricultural exploitation, climate change and the ever-expanding space needed for human habitation.
The never-ending existence of an organism. Since ancient times, humans have tried to achieve immortality, through various means such as drugs, potions, alchemy, magic, medicine, science and technology. It is possible that in the coming decades research in this field will yield positive results and life expectancy will be extended far beyond the current possibilities. This will have dramatic ramifications on our lives, as our entire existence is based on the fact of our ultimate demise, and the planet’s resources may not be able to support this “end of dying”. In addition, it is feared that only wealthy people will be able to afford the necessary treatment for radical life extension.
Military systems that use AI to search and identify targets, and determine the time and place of attack. These AI weapons pose grave danger to humanity as a whole, as their development and proliferation has already started an AI arms race. The autonomy of these systems, be it drones, artillery or other, in deciding what qualifies as a target and how and when to use lethal arms, is a worrying development, and raises many ethical questions: If an AI hits civilians or results in war crimes - who is responsible? If robots replace humans in the battlefield, what incentives do countries have to end wars?
A highly prevalent political system in the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, which emphasizes not only democratic elections but also the ensuring of human rights, civil rights and political freedom for the minority. In the 21st century, with the rise of tribalism and anti-globalist tendencies, the hegemony this system once enjoyed is at stake, and with it, the civil liberties that many of us take for granted.
An endangered species of government. Life expectancy in the wild: 100 years.
A feature of artificial intelligence (AI) that aims at replicating the part of human intelligence that consists of the ability to learn and improve based on the information we collect on our environment. While computer programs are usually a set of rules written by a human that the computer follows to arrive at an answer, in machine learning, the computer is given input data and the corresponding answers, and the computer itself figures out what the rules are. Therefore, the goal of such an algorithm is to find patterns in data without having been explicitly programmed. Current applications are (among many others) image recognition, language translation, or autonomous driving.
A nearly entirely extinct class of animals noted for their large size. Many were gigantic variations of still existing species, such as deer, wombats or dragonflies. They primarily became extinct after first encountering humans for the first time. Fossil records indicate, particularly in Australasia, that human intervention was the likely cause of their extinction, as they were easily hunted having no fear of Sapiens as apex predators.
An item that is regarded as a medium of exchange, and that is accepted as payment for any object. Although today money is thought of as a very materialistic and objective concept, it is a perfect example of a fiction: money only has value if a large enough group of people believe in it; it is objectified trust. The first instance of money can probably be traced to late 4th millennium BCE Mesopotamia, where fixed amounts of barley were used as units of account. In the Bronze Age, as people put more trust in the bureaucratic system, inedible materials such as shells and metals were used as money. Today, most money is nothing more than lines of code in a computer and has no physical embodiment. This goes to show that money is indeed the greatest trust system humanity has ever established. However, the fact that almost all money in the economy today is created by banks when they grant loans, means that the amount of money available is equivalent to the amount of debt. So, when trusting in money as a common fiction, we basically put our trust in debt.
The only story everybody believes in.
A mode of complex engineering, largely conducted at a near-atomic level, intended to create new materials, structures or devices. Designed at the microscopic scale of 1:100 nanometers, the resulting materials display physical, biological and chemical properties not found in nature. Although its advocates promise new breakthroughs in medicine, engineering and construction as a result of nanotechnology, the risks posed by the creation of these newly modified materials are not yet well understood.
Nationalism is a term that has acquired a negative connotation in the democratic west, but is what maintains the functionality of countries. Nationalism brings together different people who have never met, and perhaps will never meet, to support common goals. It is a feeling that brings people together, makes them engage in shared interests, and encourages them to pay taxes to help their country and fellow countrymen thrive. In contrast, tribalism, which is sometimes confused with nationalism, is the feeling that your group is superior to all others and therefore has more rights. It is a feeling much older than nationalism, as it stems from our evolutionary history. But while nationalism can bring about beneficial outcomes, tribalism is a dead-end street to global cooperation and human progress.
A feeling of love a plant has for its pot.
A now extinct species of hominid who emerged around 200,000 years ago and flourished across Eurasia until the arrival of Homo Sapiens. Though often characterized as brutish cavemen, more recent evidence suggests that Neanderthals successfully adapted to cold climates, and developed a complex hunting culture, including the development of tool use, clothing, music, visual art and possibly ritual behavior. A small percentage of Neanderthal genes may still be found in the DNA of some modern humans, suggesting that interbreeding was not uncommon.
A type of hominid which invented art, clothing, music, jewellery, and religion, but wasn’t good enough at killing other hominid species to survive.
Explosive and non-discriminating devices based on either nuclear fission or a combination of nuclear fission and fusion. A single nuclear bomb can deliver enough explosive energy to destroy an entire city and irradiate a large area for potentially tens of thousands of years. Nuclear weapons have not been used in warfare since 1945, when America used them to attack the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, the very existence of thousands of such weapons in the hands of multiple nations poses an existential risk to the planet and all life upon it. An estimated 19,000 such weapons are currently in existence, down from a peak of over 70,000, and 90% of these are held in American or Russian arsenals. If only a small fraction of these were to be used, the resulting 'nuclear winter' would pose a serious threat to all plant and animal life, and would likely kill billions of people through irradiation and as a further result of this, starvation.
A way to keep your nation safe by threatening the existence of the entire planet.
Oceans absorb about 30% of the C02 emitted into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. As C02 dissolves into the oceans, it changes their chemical composition, making them more acidic. This in turn makes certain minerals (particularly calcium) less available to animals for building their shells or their skeletons like oysters, clams, urchins, corals, and some forms of plankton. As these organisms are at the bottom of the food chain, their difficulties to survive affect most marine life and threaten the food supplies of billions of people. Scientists warn us that if the level of C02 in the atmosphere reaches 450ppm (we are currently around 420), most corals will disappear. As coral forms natural barriers against violent storms, their extinction will increase the vulnerability of people living along coastal shores.
A term used to describe a feeling of often intense attachment, belonging, loyalty or commitment to one's nation, or ethnic or political grouping. It long predates the similar term Nationalism, which first emerged during the 19th century with the rise of the nation state. Loyalty to one's 'patria', or 'fatherland', was formerly understood as positive and the duty of a citizen, but as the world becomes more globalized, multicultural and cosmopolitan, this notion is challenged to a large extent.
A way of compartmentalizing humans into categories based on unscientific and primarily superficial physical distinctions, mainly skin color. Based largely on outdated and debunked 19th century scientific studies, race nevertheless continues to hold a significant and often excessive cultural meaning for many people.
AKA Human. Sapiens is the only remaining species of the Homo genus, and the most widespread species of primate on planet Earth. Although not distinct from the animal kingdom, its rapid brain evolution and storytelling abilities enabled Homo sapiens to develop complex societies whose cultures led to the transformation of the planet’s climate and biodiversity, putting life on Earth in grave danger.
A great ape with an extraordinary ability to invent stories about how to ruin the world
Technological singularity is a term used to describe the hypothetical moment in the near future when technological development becomes irreversible and impossible to control. Common scenarios for the singularity are the development or emergence of a sentient machine intelligence, which would potentially initiate a runaway cycle of constant self-improvement, and the merging of man and machine to a point where the newly formed cyborg would be so different from today’s Homo sapiens that we cannot imagine its capabilities. The term was first coined by the mathematician John Von Neuman, and later popularized by science fiction writer Vernon Vinge and futurist Ray Kurzweil.
A much catchier term than “we have no idea what’s going to happen and at this point we’re too afraid to ask”.
A catch-all term to describe electronic methods of communication characterized by interaction, community-generated content and collaboration, usually manifesting as websites or apps. Following the advent of Web 2.0 in the early 2000s, social media sites began to displace the more democratic and free-for-all format of earlier forms of the internet as the primary method for people to communicate online. This has led to the growth of a small number of corporations with disproportionate and multifarious power. These corporations are able to harvest the immense amount of data created in order to discover more about people than they know about themselves.
A place people go to find strangers to hate.
The unjustified belief that certain animal species should be treated differently, and that this treatment should be carried out according to human interests. This is the belief behind the mistreatment of farm animals such as cows and pigs, as opposed to the favoring of pets such as dogs and cats. A common speciesist claim is that some animals are smarter, cleaner or more intelligent than others and so should be treated better, but this claim has no scientific ground. See Also: Knowledge Nuggets | Can You Spot the Human Embryo?
Modifying a planet’s conditions to make them similar to the environment on Earth so that the planet will be hospitable for humans. This hypothetical process includes the modification of the atmosphere, temperature, geology and ecology, and has so far been described mainly in science fiction books and films. However, this idea has been studied and proposed by astronomers such as Carl Sagan and scientists in NASA since the middle of the 20th century, with Mars being the most likely candidate. This raises many ethical issues, mainly the concern that interfering with and altering conditions on a planet is an extension of ethnocentrism into space and of the destruction of nature by humans.
Modifying a planet’s conditions to be similar to the environment of Earth, so humans can destroy that planet as well.
Formal and legally binding agreements, usually between nation states, which document obligations and rights that all parties commit to. Treaties usually follow a number of rounds of negotiation between all parties, sometimes over several years. In order to be binding, they must be ratified (or confirmed) by individual nations by their own parliaments. The earliest known treaty resolved a border dispute in Sumeria over 5,000 years ago. Today treaties are used in a wide range of agreements which require international cooperation, such as the oversight and management of common areas, for example space, Oceans or Antarctica.
Tribalism is a term that sometimes gets confused with nationalism, but is very different. It stems from our evolutionary history. Since the dawn of human evolution, humans have organized themselves into tight social groupings. Anthropologists estimate that most of us can maintain a maximum of around 150 relationships. This helps us collaborate and share interests, but can also be dangerous. There's a risk of feeling that our group is superior to all others and of demonizing people outside it. Nationalism, on the other hand, is a relatively new concept. Even though nationalism has acquired a negative connotation in the democratic west, it is what maintains the functionality of countries. Nationalism is what brings together different people who have never met, and perhaps will never meet, to support common goals. It is a feeling that brings people together, makes them engage in shared interests, and encourages them to pay taxes to help their country and fellow countrymen thrive. While nationalism can bring about beneficial outcomes, tribalism is a dead-end street to global cooperation and human progress.
A feeling of hatred a plant has towards another plant in a neighboring pot.
Humans who have had some or all of their biological body parts and features edited by way of DNA engineering or substituted for mechanical parts, or who are modified by drugs. To a certain extent, many humans are already enhanced, whether by way of life extending medications or prosthetic limbs or artificial organs. Moreover, due to technological, scientific and medical progress, it is likely that in the near future DNA editing (see CRISPR) and organ replacement will become more common, leading to a radical change in human body characteristics. It is feared that some treatments will only be available to wealthy individuals, creating a gap between enhanced humans and “regular” humans.
A possible class of people who will not be able to find work in future job markets. Just as mass industrialization created the working class, the AI revolution could create an unworking class once algorithms are able to perform many tasks better than humans. Today, humans are specializing more and more, which makes it easier for computers to replace us. In order to replace humans, computers only need to be better than us at a specific task. Current estimates state that in the coming years many different jobs - such as telemarketing, insurance underwriting, sports refereeing, and positions including those of cashiers, chefs, waiters, paralegals, tour guides, bakers, bus drivers, security guards, sailors, bartenders, archivists, carpenters and lifeguards - will all be replaced by algorithms. Many new professions are also likely to appear in the digital and virtual worlds, but it is unclear whether 40-year-old cashiers or insurance agents will be able to reinvent themselves in order to take on one or other of these new positions. Moreover, the crucial problem is not in creating new jobs, but in creating new jobs that humans can perform better and more efficiently than algorithms. And since we do not know what the job market will look like in 2030 or 2040, we do not know what to teach our kids. Soon, the traditional divide into a period of learning followed by a period of working will become utterly obsolete, and the only way for humans to stay in the game will be to keep learning throughout their lives and to reinvent themselves periodically and repeatedly. Many humans may be unable to do so, and will not only be unemployed, they will be unemployable. What will they do with their lives? What will be their place or role in society? This is one of the main challenges of the 21st century.
Any significant armed conflict between groups, whether nation states, or non-state actors such as paramilitary groups, militias or other types of insurgents, such as political separatists. Warfare dates back at least to the paleolithic age, with evidence of armed conflict having taken place in the Nile valley some 14,000 years ago. War usually indicates a breakdown in diplomatic negotiation, but rarely, if ever, succeeds in resolving disputes. The development of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the 20th century now poses an existential threat to the whole of humanity. A widely disseminated quote often attributed to Albert Einstein, predicts that a fourth world war will be fought with stone spears, since a third world war will likely destroy human civilization as we know it.
A behavior shared by ants and people, in which the latter show as little humanity as the former.