This week’s TIME magazine, delivered yesterday but dated January 25, carries an interview with KLAUS SCHWAB, Founder of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Schwab answers the question “What will be the big topic at Davos this year ?” by saying :
“We are at the tipping point of a whole variety of interconnected technological breakthroughs : robots, drones, intelligent cities, artificial intelligence, brain research.” His message is one of hope, and recalls for me the famous statement of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) : “The future belongs to those who provide coming generations with reasons for living and hoping.” Schwab is a welcome, unexpected, prestigious, credible source of hope among the multiple shades of grey if not despair which characterizes this second decade of the 21st century.
Is it wishful thinking ? Schwab does seem to appreciate the downside of replicating the brain in a robot, and while we accept his use of the traditional metaphorical identification of the blood-pump inside our chest with passion and compassion, we have to wonder about his belief in the soul, “which”, he says, “enables us to believe”.
What is true is that people will always want to believe . . . no matter what — in the sense of “despite all obstacles, challenges and counter-indications”, and also “just about anything at all”. They have their faith to keep them warm, confident that their life has God-given purpose and meaning and that though they die they will live forever. We, of little or no such faith, will continue to enjoy life for as long as it lasts, accept death as the definitive end of existence, and even try to get others to do the same. So though cautious, Schwab may be proven right : “Perhaps we will have at the end of this revolution – possibly, possibly – a basis for a new human renaissance.” For whatever reasons, let’s hope so.