One might think that a crisis brought on by rapacious, unregulated capitalism would have changed a few minds about the fundamental nature of the global economy.
One would be wrong. True, there is no lack of anti-capitalist sentiment in the world today, particularly as a crisis brought on by the system's worst excesses continues to ravage the global economy. If anything, we are witnessing an overload of critiques of the horrors of capitalism: Books, newspaper investigations, and TV reports abound, telling us of companies ruthlessly polluting our environment, corrupted bankers who continue to get fat bonuses while their banks are bailed out by taxpayer money, and sweatshops where children work overtime.
Yet no matter how grievous the abuse or how indicative of a larger, more systemic failure, there's a limit to how far these critiques go.
In the basement recording studio of the journal Nature scientist and broadcaster Adam Rutherford sat down with speculative architect Liam Young to discuss the mythical beasts of synthetic biology. Rutherford recently worked with the BBC on a series called the ‘Gene Code’ which explored the consequences of decoding the human genome. Recognizing the potential externalities of communicating science poorly, Rutherford works at conveying the poorly understood field of synthetic biology to a broader audience.
Given the current social, economic and political developments it becomes clear that we seem to have reached a ceiling in our intellectual ability to address the complex issues that society is facing. Society lacks the intellectual capacity required to assess the holistic nature of the current challenges. Without that analytic capacity it will be impossible to come up with the right answers. We have arrived at times like this before in our history and they typically led to collapses of civilisations and the arrival of serious declines in living standards. If we are to avoid similar calamities, we need to break through that ceiling and find new tools to help us to create a smarter society.
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