Must-Know Concepts for the 21st Century
My colleague at IEET, George Dvorsky, posted a list of concept about the future that he sees as vital for people who consider themselves to be intelligent to know and understand. His goal is admirable: too much of what passes for public discourse (in the United States, at least, but from what I can see, also in much of the rest of the West) is deeply focused on the past, and much too narrow. Moreover, it's not simply that we've become a culture of niche thinkers; it's that the niche thinkers that dominate public discourse have seemingly decided that their particular set of niches (largely issues of domestic politics and economics) are the only important ones.
George's list is, by and large, a good one. I'd quibble about a couple of items he includes, but nothing strikes me as outrageously out-of-place. (I do wish he'd add links to the terms to help people who don't recognize various entries get up to speed, however.) He covers, for the most part, terms concerning advances in human engineering and in information and material technologies, with particular emphasis on various manifestations and implications of non-human intelligence(s).
George asks for additions, so in that spirit, here's a list of 10 more terms and concepts intelligent participants in the 21st century should understand. Mine has links. :)
- Carlson Curves
- Climate refugees (PDF)
- Climate system tipping point
- Cognitively modified organisms
- Continuous partial attention
- Extended identity
- Open-source warfare
- Post-hegemonic politics
- Thermal inertia
- Uncanny valley
I'm not entirely satisfied with this list; it remains a bit too tech-focused. Still, in combination with George's list, this looks like the beginnings of a good primer for dealing with the key issues of the new century.