Why Future Generations May Consider Us Barbaric

Factory farming, eating meat, Internet porn, overprescribing antibiotics, obesity, the maintenance of nuclear weapon stockpiles: these are just some of the reasons that future generations may criticize the morals of our present society.

What's the Latest?


Factory farming, eating meat, Internet porn, overprescribing antibiotics, obesity, the maintenance of nuclear weapon stockpiles: these are just some of the reasons that future generations may criticize the morals of our present society, just as we object to yesterday's child labor, bear baiting, slavery, and oppression of women. Nick Bostrom, the founding director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford, UK, argues that our unpreparedness for existential threats most risks the ire of our children's children... "For Bostrom, the question is not simply how we deal with obvious threats; it’s whether we should take seriously even the slight chance of something happening that could end human life as we know it."

What's the Big Idea?

Perhaps even our manner of solving problems--assessing first the harm done to the economy by large-scale moral wrongs--will be viewed as misguided in the future. Indeed translating death and destruction in dollars and cents is a popular way of prioritizing which injustices should be addressed first. What we fail to see, according to Kate Raworth, an economist at Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute, is that "[t]he economy is nested within society which is nested within the planet, and these systems are all interacting with each other.” 

Read more at BBC Future

Photo credit: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why the ocean you know and love won’t exist in 50 years

Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?

Videos
  • Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
  • The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
  • If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.

Vikings unwittingly made their swords stronger by trying to imbue them with spirits

They didn't know it, but the rituals of Iron Age Scandinavians turned their iron into steel.

Shutterstock
Culture & Religion
  • Iron Age Scandinavians only had access to poor quality iron, which put them at a tactical disadvantage against their neighbors.
  • To strengthen their swords, smiths used the bones of their dead ancestors and animals, hoping to transfer the spirit into their blades.
  • They couldn't have known that in so doing, they actually were forging a rudimentary form of steel.
Keep reading Show less

Health care: Information tech must catch up to medical marvels

Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.

Photo: Tom Werner / Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
  • Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
  • As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
Keep reading Show less