Exploring the adjacent possible – How we make progress

We have everything today that we need to shape tomorrow. All the ingredients for our future are available to us in the here and now. That is the very essence of progress: the future flows from the past, we shape it on the foundation of the past. We “only” need to find out how we can best combine the available ingredients to get the next task done. That’s what we call progress. And we can make progress in different ways …

Some inspiration for 2019

As the old year draws to a close, the holiday season offers a much-needed break from everyday busy-ness to rest, to reflect, to put recent events into longer-term perspective. It’s the time for racking and stacking and sorting the ideas that have accumulated, and to think ahead. To give my fuzzy observations an initial structure for some systematic follow-up, I’ve composed a preliminary reading list for the new year that I’m sharing here.

Innovation is a hostile act

For many good reasons, innovation is widely appreciated as a positive force, as the driver for progress and prosperity. But make no mistake: innovation has serious downsides, at least for some, at least sometimes. Even though these negative impacts are far outweighed by the positive effects, they are the source of considerable push-back and utter resistance to innovation. And it would be too easy to dismiss justified concerns as irrational, dump, backwards-oriented, or fear-mongering. It’s time to cast some light on the hostility even the best intended innovator might be faced with. It’s time to acknowledge that innovation itself is a hostile act. Here’s why.

Reinventing time

The times they are a-changin’. This Bob Dylan song has a deeper meaning than we usually realise. For our sense of time, of the pace and direction of its flow, transformed several times in human history. And this perception is undergoing significant changes again today. So here’s a short story about our sense of time, how it evolved, and how it shapes our liberties and certainties.

Seeing possibilities

At a global scale, how do you perceive the path of mankind? Getting better? Getting worse? Getting nowhere? Listening to our instincts, we are inclined to hold a gloomy, even bleak view of the current state and our future prospects. But is such pessimism at all justified? Should we rely on our guts? And what do the facts tell us? The big trends that shape the development of populations and define their health and wealth, these drivers of societal progress are the focus of Hans Rosling’s lifelong mission as a public health practitioner, researcher, and teacher.