Issue 5 Part 2 Editorial


Ullica Segerstrale’s essay, “Futuristic Scenarios and Human Nature,” takes up the challenging issue of how human nature may be impacted and possibly even transcended by future scenarios of technological development. She provides us with a very good insight into the problem of the interdependence and interdetermination of social process and technological innovation. This is a challenging vista, one that may generate an optimistic future for human nature and one that is perhaps more dismal among the great challenges of the dynamics of artificial intelligence. As she notes, some machines may indeed have the capacity to self-replicate and improve. The possibility of a dramatic and sudden transition might confront humanity with a “singularity.” What is the role of a human future in the universe of singularity? This is a vital question and the author has done us a service in raising such questions in such a clear and elegant manner.

Ruben Nelson is an original and powerful thinker. His short essay, “Civilizational paradigm change: The Modern/Industrial Case,” focusing on civilizational paradigm change in the context of the Modern/Industrial civilization is a brilliant outlook at the factors that shape our thought and paradigms of thought. His essay looks at paradigm change from several perspectives, all of which throw light on the forms of civilization and the challenges of transformation. This is another important essay and an indication of the far-reaching intellectual power of the Fellows of the Academy.

John Scales Avery has written a brief but elegant essay on the urgent need for renewable energy. “The Urgent Need for Renewable Energy” brings in important scientific insights in a form that is readable to non-scientists and public policy intellectuals. The issue of renewable energy, the challenge of climate change, the dominant role that energy interests play in seeking to constrain the evolution of alternative energy sources are a major challenge according to Avery’s article, which puts the core issues on the table in a concise and communicable manner. This is an important contribution.

Michael Marien has provided us with a useful summary of the most recent reports touching on the question of how climate change poses serious national security challenges in his “Book Reviews”. Recent reports, for example, look at the challenge climate change poses for economic and national security interests. It is interesting to note that the findings of the Military Advisory Board declared that climate change poses a serious threat to American national security. The Military Advisory Board provided an update expressing its dismay that discussions about climate change have receded from informed public discourse and debate. The military experts again stressed the seriousness that climate change poses for human security systems on a global basis. The military’s report is very useful because of its comprehensive checklist of climate change issues, as well as its specific recommendations for action. The author’s summary of literature here is a very useful update for those Fellows who are deeply concerned about the challenges posed by climate change.

Robert Hoffman has provided us a short review essay of a book by Mary Christina Wood. Her book, Nature’s Trust: Environmental Law for a New Environmental Age, details the failures of the agencies regulating the protection of the environment and is a call for urgent radical reform.