Stop sharing cat pics, and change the world

Josh Klein

Josh Klein is a hacker, speaker, author, and advisor

There has never been a better – or more important – time for doing science in human history, and yet in many ways we as a species are missing the opportunity.

Non-scientists and scientists alike now have more resources for practicing scientific inquiry, as well as better means to implement and utilise those findings, than ever. This means that when we do work to find solutions they can impact literally billions of lives, often overnight.

It is this combination of expanded resources – education (YouTube, online courses, chatrooms and newsgroups), access (to expertise, insights, and data), and tools (open source software, DIY kits, small-scale and agile manufacturing) – that makes ours such a potent time. We are presented, as a species, with the individual responsibility to make the most of these opportunities to improve the world for all of us.

This is, truly, a new and unprecedented period in history, and one in which we are each given to choose what the contribution of our time on the planet will be. As we have seen, a small group of individuals can make a truly global impact (Facebook, Google, WhatsApp) in an incredibly short period of time.

And yet all too often those who should be at the vanguard of this inquiry, those with the most resources and best access, are wasting this opportunity on building new and better ways to share pictures of cats.

The reality is that over the next 5-15 years the internet is going to expand 200% as the remaining 2/3rds of humanity come online. Those people are going to use the same tools we have access to now to solve the pressing issues in front of them – whether that be hunger, drought or sharing photos. The ability of the reader to influence the global sociocultural agenda, to encourage the ethical and moral imperatives we personally believe in, is limited to the next decade.

This is no longer the responsibility of our government, our leaders, or even our educators. Education and access are becoming universally available, which puts the onus of action on each of us as individuals. The good news is that taking action is as simple as finding a problem you want to fix, and then connecting with like-minded individuals (online or off) to help make a positive change. There are, increasingly, no more gatekeepers for creation.

You have the tools. You have the means. So what will you do?

Josh Klein is a hacker, speaker, author, and advisor who uses systems thinking to create alternative methods of succeeding in divergent fields. You can find out more at http://www.josh.is.

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