Tony Clark introduced former Vice-President, Oscar winner, and Nobel winner Al Gore before a packed house at the Carter Presidential Library on February 1 and said it best that Al Gore was a “thinking man”, Clark noted that Al Gore had “a long history of thinking… thinking has become a last art, … it is something that is not done these days, he thinks about how things are and how he would like them to be in the future.” This book, The Future is exactly about that “the future.”
Al Gore looked good; he had a more professorial presence than a former politician and spoke about passionate issues. With no notes and walking freely around the stage, Gore had a command of his material and went chapter by chapter of his book in explaining what he thought of the future and the world today.
More people, at 7 billion people, we are expected to add another billion folks in the next fifteen years that will create more demand for diminishing natural resources. We are more connected and interwoven with technology, Gore mentioned that most people reach for their smart phones first thing in the morning and used a term coined by a former classmate Sherry Turkle highlighted in her book by this title we are more often “Alone Together”.
This information age has speed up the world and in our economy one mili-second can create havoc or millions of dollars in the global economy. There “stalker” companies that mine and track our online movements and sell that information. There are gene manipulations that produce new biological marvels for instance “spidergoats”, they have been spliced with spiders to secrete spider web silk through their udders. Gore joked that’s “creepy”.
We will soon be able to genetically choose our children, smarter, more athletic, better looking. Gore warns we focus on the short term where often we need to think of the long term.
Gore emphasize that our democracy has been hacked, where our elected officials spend five to six hours a day begging for money in order to put ads on television before a public that spends an average between five and six hours a day watching television. There are good people stuck in a bad system.
We have heard of jobs being out sourced, now they are being robot sourced and the division between the haves and the have not’s is widening. For example, Gore shared that the top six Walmart family members have more wealth than the bottom one hundred million working Americans.
In his hour long lecture he did paint a bleak future but at the same time he was optimistic.
For instance we have within our reach all the knowledge of mankind, there are two million nongovernmental organizations fighting for causes, and the internet allows anyone to quickly organized and create a movement.
Gore concluded that it is up to us as to where we want our nation to go in essence we need to take on the responsibility of our own future.
For upcoming lectures and programs at the Carter Presidential Library visit: http://www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov/