TED Conversations

Marc Goodman

INTERPOL-International Criminal Police Organization


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What is the greatest security challenge facing humanity today?

What do you see as the most pressing global security challenges of the 21st century? The broad themes are crime, terrorism, warfare and corruption.

Of course security is a theme which transcends many of the biggest issues facing our planet today, including environment change, access to clean water, poverty and disease/pandemic, to name but a few.

In your opinion, what do you view as the greatest security challenge facing mankind?

What steps can we take now to positively impact the greatest number of people from a global security perspective?

How might an innovative emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotech, biology, ubiquitous computing, genomics, synthetic biology, etc help resolve this challenge?

Thanks in advance for your input.


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    Apr 11 2011: The biggest problem affecting the security of humanity is the growing disconnect between our actions and our awareness of their consequences- for other people and for the environment. When humans lived in small tribes in limited surroundings, there was rapid feedback about the negative consequences of behaviors that were antisocial or deleterious to the immediate environment that supported the tribe's survival. In face-to-face situations, we are adept at reading the emotional reactions of others, and in adjusting our behavior to maintain peace and stability. Without this direct feedback, however, we tend to drift into self- promoting behavior, oblivious to the consequences.

    This shows up clearly in our driving behaviors, where the lack of an obvious face behind the steering wheel leads us into silly displays of road rage at perceived insults. Also in Internet "communications", which rapidly devolve into flame-wars without any body language feedback. We no longer depend on a local environment, and receive our sustenance from far-away farms and oceans; we receive no direct feedbacks about the alarming degradation of these systems. We are a world of small tribes- sensitive to those we have facetime with, but with little feeling or compassion for faceless others who get lumped into categories such as Liberals, or Muslims, or CEO's, or illegal immigrants, and etc.

    If technology could put more of a human face on the consequences of our actions, to replace the feedback systems that we have evolved to respond to, then we might be able to identify, agree upon, and support solutions to problems that threaten us more than most are willing to believe.

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