The Future | Al Gore

Summary of: The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change
By: Al Gore

Introduction

The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change by Al Gore introduces the developments shaping the world today. This book summary delves into the emergence of a unified global economy (Earth Inc.) with job outsourcing and robosourcing as key elements, and the subsequent rise in corporate power. The summary also explores the impact of the Internet and Big Data on our lives, and the potential dangers they pose. There are also discussions on the influence of biotechnology in agriculture and medicine, the challenges posed by global population growth, and the urgent need to address the ongoing climate crisis as we approach a critical point in human history.

The Impact of Globalization on Jobs

The world is rapidly becoming a unified global economy due to free trade and technological advancements. This shift leads to two main impacts on workers. Firstly, jobs are increasingly outsourced to developing countries, leading to unemployment in developed nations. Secondly, jobs are lost to robosourcing as machines and computers replace human labor. As a result, outsourcing and robosourcing create new jobs, but only for a select few, deepening the divide between the rich and poor. Ultimately, redistributing the wealth of the wealthy is the only solution to address this issue, although resistance from political powers has hindered progress.

Rise of Corporate Power

Private corporations have gained significant economic and political power, with politicians depending on their funding to win elections and corporate interests taking precedence over those of private citizens. The United States’ reputation as a corporate lackey has undermined its moral standing and credibility, resulting in China emerging as a new superpower. To limit the ability of private corporations to affect policy, citizens must actively call for democratic governments to take action.

Rise of the Internet

The internet has transformed the world, with 2.4 billion users in 2012, and almost everyone expected to be online soon. As it expands, Big Data presents an opportunity to improve many aspects of our lives. Furthermore, the internet can help spur democratic debate in today’s dictatorial regimes, a trend that has already been witnessed in political movements like the Tahrir Square protesters in Egypt or Occupy Wall Street in the United States. The internet can also help curb the rising political power of corporations by providing political candidates with a cheaper platform to present themselves than television, thus decreasing their need for corporate funding. Journalism is also migrating online, away from the influence of corporations, to better reach people and spur healthy democratic debate.

The Dark Side of the Internet

The internet has many benefits, but it also poses several dangers such as political suppression, extensive surveillance, and cybercrime. Every online activity is recorded, and companies can target individuals with advertisements. Even governments in western democracies can monitor their citizens’ thoughts and ideas. The global cost of cybercrime is estimated at $388 billion, and hacking can also be used as a weapon of war. We must pass new laws to protect online information and safeguard our privacy.

Biotechnology: The Good, The Bad, and The Ethical

Biotechnology has the potential to influence every aspect of our lives. It has revolutionized the agriculture industry through genetically modified organisms or GMOs, which are crops with newly spliced DNA that make them resistant to pests. However, the long-term ecological impact of GMOs is unclear, and genetically modified animals may soon be introduced for human consumption. Additionally, the dominance of large players in the GM industry raises concerns about regulation. On the other hand, medical biotechnology has the potential to cure diseases and create more effective treatments based on genetic backgrounds. However, ethical issues surrounding the use of genes for behavioral changes or enhancement must be thoroughly debated in an open and democratic manner.

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