The international Human Genome Project took less than 20 years from first funding proposal to its announced completion. Now the United States and the European Union are each hoping to map the human brain — as I understand it a la Google Maps, satellite view down through neighborhood shots, which cars in which driveways, who needs a new roof. Humanity is learning to quest together with breathtaking chutzpah.
But who decides what to quest after? Scientists. Nation-leading politicians. Fellow citizens, I’m putting my two cents in here. Bigger, brasher, more seismic than the above.
How about an international initiative to understand and neutralize greed in the human race? Why study poverty when we could be studying the cause? We’ve got enough to provide every planetary human a comfortable lifestyle. Just not Lamborghinis all around.
- The actual Sebastao Salgado photo above stretches far to both sides, a sea of toil.
- Men living like slaves are laden with gold ore — to gold-leaf a faraway statehouse dome?
- How high those ladders reach, filled ceaselessly with brutalized men.
This is what greed looks like. We’re moving in on robots and artificial intelligence and it never occurs to us to tackle this? At least to make an effort, try. The united will of nations focused on solving greed.
Imagine what the Kochs’ would spend to kill that. Eisenhower’s Military-Industrial Complex: how much cash would flow to stop humanity from locating a cure for greed? If we all had access to the same amounts who would the Kochs be? How would they stack up in our esteem?
There is a thing (or was) in the US called a Grand Challenge in science and technology. Among the topics deemed worthy: Computational fluid dynamics for the design of hypersonic aircraft, efficient automobile bodies, and extremely quiet submarines. Plasma dynamics for fusion energy technology and for safe and efficient military technology.
Or how about an initiative to understand and neutralize hate? We don’t have to hate each other. Except it seems we do. There was a time in Sweden when, on a designated day, everyone switched to driving in the right lane. Sure, fenders got bent but it was a leap Swedes took together. A jump into the anti-intuitive, the weird, when out-dated muscle memories had to rewire and what was obvious changed.