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02 Dec 13 08:04

There are many challenges ahead and the Open Minds forum has already proven that it is as open as its title suggests. We focus on important topics from Longevity to Climate Change and from Sustainable Energy to Food Security ... and the common thread is humanity - you, me, us. Sometimes it helps to take a step back from the topics and focus on that human side.

In connection with Swiss Re's 150 year anniversary film project, we've already talked to a great many people. Fascinating interviews with people from all walks of life, diverse views from across the globe. Here's a short clip of an interview I particularly liked - featuring Gennaro Aliperti, a butcher in Brooklyn. When asked about his concerns for the future, he focused on human beings and how technology is both good and ruinous in his eyes. He remembers the days when they were all outside playing ball whenever they could - and he looks around his neighborhood now and says "People don't talk to each other anymore".

While he says the value of technology, he offers a simple wish, "I wish that technology would slow down a little bit." That's a wish that won't be fulfilled! ... or maybe it will but in a different way. I believe we can have the cake and eat it, too. Today we still are generations who are in awe of and intimidated by technology. My hope for the future is a world where we don't even notice technology. It'll be there, but it'll be invisible. There won't be monitors, there won't be keyboards, there won't be things we need to turn on and off and there definitely won't be any buttons to be pushed.

The future I see is a future that'll make Gennaro happy - people will not be absorbed by technology but empowered by it. They'll be freed from burdens and enriched by insights, they'll have more time and they'll be able to choose... actually, my future is one that'll do exactly what Gennaro misses today - a world where people meet and talk again, a future where kids can play Wiffle ball out on the street again. It'll be made possible because priorities will have shifted, tasks will be automated, the air and the streets will be clear. The future can be bright ... and, counterintuitive as it may seem, technology will be the means to make our lives, our days, our communities more human again.

Category: Other

Location: Brooklyn, NY, United States


Paritosh - 2 Dec 2013, 3:11 p.m.

I remember those tv serials that would captivate audiences for those 45 mins they would run. The new tech is like those unending serials.... I believe one day that 46th minute will come but Gennaro should keep playing football and basketball just to show that choices exist...

Alicia Montoya - 3 Dec 2013, 7 a.m.

Slow down? On the contrary, tech should speed up! We need all the help we can get:

As for humans, I'm not worried. We have remained (and I'm convinced we will remain) sociable creatures. Whether we're communicating in a neighborhood park, on a social network or via another means, the key is that we're every bit as sociable as we were. Aren't we?

But of course, the very nature of our social fabric has changed dramatically and us ever-adaptable humans are changing with it. But I think that's a good thing. Every time something new comes along people react to it: Some embrace it, some resist it, and some never know it's even there.

But you know what? On a typical day I get to exchange on facebook with NYT's Nicholas Kristof as I read the news before work, I then work collaboratively (via email, video conferencing, etc) with colleagues and industry peers all over the world, I can look up information that spans mankind's history and every corner of the Earth on the internet, get home and speak to my family over skype, catch up with friends online, maybe have a skype party with 3 of them who all ended up in different places like me! Then I can go for dinner with friends and enjoy some time with them... To me, technology is a complement.

I think technology has done us nothing but favors and will continue to do as it helps us unlocks the Earth's and our own great potential.

Calm_b4_Storm - 27 Dec 2013, 7:39 p.m.

I think he is just wishing tech would refocus. There are so many items out there now that just exist to be a distraction and suck time. He is looking for an inner peace that can't be found when these items run rampant.

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