The future of thinking

Possibly soon, and perhaps even now, children may be taught one skill above all others to prepare them for life. It is a virtue and it can be trained: Impartiality. Parents/schools/media might teach children to be as unbiased as possible. Because this skill could be the most important prerequisite to be successful – whatever success could mean. Success in the eye of one beholder might look like economic success, ecologic success in an other’s. There might be a huge number of qualities that describe success.

Impartiality seems to me to be the most important prerequisite for being able to profit from the multitude of signals that are being received from more and more directions, also due to technical developments1.

With prejudice, on the other hand, it is difficult, in my opinion, to profit from the information provided by others outside the boundaries of prejudice – independent of the technology used. A multitude of signals, many of them contradictory, come from a multitude of directions, via smartphone, computer, newspaper, radio, television, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, you name it.

All these different perspectives seem to me increasingly affecting peoples’ thinking. It seems to negatively affect biased people (they seem to get angrier) but does have less of that effect on the more impartial folks who seem to me to relax more. Maybe for the more biased people the multitudes of signals sounds more like a cacophony, incomprehensible noise.

When you look with a few eyes at something very large and complex, it seems to me that you can’t perceive much more than the detail that happens to be in front of your nose. You would need many different angles to understand large complex things. If the thing is then still moving, as it is said that the world is changing faster and faster, so if the thing to be grasped is a “moving target”, it can therefore only be grasped if one has learned to look at it from many angles at the same time. Unbiasedness seems to me to be the prerequisite for allowing perspectives that may even contradict one’s own way of seeing.

The problems humanity will face in the future will probably be both bigger and more complex than they are today, and they will then have to be examined and understood from many different angles in order to be able to fix them. The unbiased would thus become more and more important, because they would be able to do so. The bias seems to me already on the descending branch, as can be observed, in my opinion, in many places. The discussions about diversity of all kinds, which seem to have been increasing for years, are in my opinion an expression of exactly this development; exclusion and bias are becoming less and less appreciated, according to my observations. The underlying reason, in my opinion, is not so much the striving for justice, but the awareness of the value of the many different perspectives.

I am convinced that societies that are able to admit the greatest possible number of perspectives can see better, recognize better and understand better. And that, in turn, seems to me to be the best condition for being able to respond wisely to change. If it is true that the world is changing faster and faster, societies will be less and less able to afford to be selective and to allow only those perspectives that their biases allow.

I suspect our children will be smarter than we are because they will be better able to load themselves up with knowledge from thousands of perspectives. And they will probably be aware that each one alone can only ever perceive a tiny angle of reality.

These children will, I suspect, be unbiased, smart and humble. Geniuses.

1 I am without doubt unable to turn off these signals and I find it increasingly difficult to turn the volume down a bit.