TED Conversations

william clegg


This conversation is closed.

how do you think we can better utilize our intellectual capabilities in this modern age?

Science classifies our species as homo sapien or wise man honouring our minds, our intelligence as a species. But do we effective or even efficiently employ those 6 billion minds our species is now blessed with? No.

The principle forms of employment today simply involve the exchange of labour for wages and the vast majority of those jobs are service, assembly line and office work. Most of which simply involve a body performing repetitive and boring tasks that utilize only a fraction of our intellectual potential. Meanwhile hundreds of millions of equally 'wise men' and 'wise women' are abandoned to subsistence existences simply because their bodies are unemployable.

This "jobs" agenda that our politicians so often champion has only been with us for a few hundred years and was a direct result of the Industrial Revolution which required huge numbers of workers in order to run the machines and maintain the records of commerce.

However, scientific and technological advancements have already replaced human beings in hundreds, perhaps thousands, of labour based employment activities. And online shopping, automation and robotics are poised to take over more and more of our labour based tasks as we move ever forward. .

In other words, there are far more valuable and self-enriching activities human beings, today, can engage their incredible intellectual potential in than simply exchanging their labour for wages. In this Information and Communication Age it seems timely that we look at ways of finally employing all that intellectual capacity that the 6 billion human minds on this planet represent.


Closing Statement from william clegg

We seem to still be split between those who cannot see beyond the status quo of a person's value being derived from their bodies exchanging labour for wages and those who welcome a future where our minds matter more. "know thy self" was a popular theme for the later group with a strong emphasis on a student focused educational system as being most desirable and leading to lives that are mindful and thereby meaningful.

It was most gratifying to see that empowerment, motivation and opportunity came up often as both consequences and purpose in a population that was fully engaging its mental capacities as priorities over simple employment and consumption. Personally I am all for empowerment, personal empowerment, and the premise that all else will benefit thereafter.

However, there was also strong support for the premise that first the political system must change before anything else will and few would disagree that such a change is long overdue. .

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Dec 9 2013: Its pretty certain that in this modern age we need less population than ever. The employment possibilities are much less than Industrial Era. So what we can do? We should definitely reduce the world population and then we have to choose a sustainable way because our current way is nothing but a temporary solution. I still think that Job creation will stay a very challenging topic in agenda.
    I guess Juan Enriquez has a solution like always: http://www.ted.com/talks/juan_enriquez_wants_to_grow_energy.html
    • thumb
      Dec 9 2013: So Can, are you opting to lead by example in reducing the world population?
      • thumb
        Dec 9 2013: Joshua, Isn't that clear? I mean we already have problems by lack of natural resources and with the help of technological advancements we have a job creation problem too.

        Here an economist suggest that corporations should hire people even though they do not really need to hire that amount of people. He suggests that buffer stocks should employed people not unemployed. It will be a huge problem in our future. When Keynesian economy can't find a permanent solution it seems a big trouble to me.
        • thumb
          Dec 10 2013: I think what Joshua was asking was "Will you kill yourself?", reducing the population by 1, leading by example...

          Now maybe you're not advocating that people should be killed but almost every time someone talks about reducing the population, they think that it needs to be done fast and that can only happen one way... Unless we have an accident...
        • thumb
          Dec 11 2013: Hello Can,
          Jimmy picked up on my tongue-in-cheek meaning. But a couple of further points.
          1). There is no shortage of food; just a matter of distribution, and simple solutions that politicians could instigate to help people help themselves;
          2). There is only a "shortage" of natural resources in relation to a distorted sense of "need" for a certain high-level consumption-lifestyle. With a simpler but adequate lifestyle, there is no shortage of minerals.
          3). Technology is now delivering its promise "to free mankind from boring repetitive work". The vision was that then people would spend their time in "higher and more creative pursuits". You are right in that no-one told the economists this was the plan. In India it is deemed better to have people doing some work, rather than no work, and this approach has merit even if it is considered by some as "inefficient" - but what is "efficient" about having many under-employed people? It is only efficient for the company as an isolated unit, off-loading its peripheral costs onto the general public, and the planet. However, this is the nature of the Capitalist system, with fewer people working longer hours to keep costs down in the limited sphere of the company, but not in the larger sphere of the world community as a whole.
          So your question is a good one; a whole new rethink on what is a workable 'economy' is needed.
      • thumb
        Dec 11 2013: Of course I didn't mean to kill anybody without their willingness so you all can live :) But I think we have to make some facilitations in euthanasia especially who are over 80 and do not want to live anymore. When people get through with age 60 they should be asked whether they would prefer euthanasia if they live in the persistent vegetative state.

        And also all countries must support birth control. Making more than 2 baby should be considered with highly taxation.
        • thumb
          Dec 12 2013: Hello Can,
          My mother died this year aged over 92, and mentally fully with it, even if a little slow. She talked about "being ready to go" the last 3 or so years, but actually they were an important time. There is always a bigger picture that we are probably not seeing, and we need to give that possibility the fullness of time and space as a process of expanding our consciousness on the journey towards leaving this planet.
          People on life-support machines are a different matter and the decisions when and if to "pull the plug" are currently done.
          As for children (at least in relation to the white population in the U.K), children are considered such a high cost to bring up that the average is less than two per family now, anyway.
    • thumb
      Dec 10 2013: There once were national space programs that could have seen the human race populating the cosmos but now it has been handed over to the wealthy for their enjoyment. With over 6 billion minds available to us, surely we can come up with better ideas than that?

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.