Sunday, 29 January 2012

The world going forward: comments on Kasparov

Garry Kasparov, renowned as a chess champion, is chairman of the United Civil Front, a pro-democracy organisation in Russia, and is co-author of a forthcoming  book The Blueprint: reviving innovation, rediscovering risk and rescuing the free market.

In the January issue of Prospect  (subscription only) he gives a one page outline of some ideas which presumably will be dealt with at length in the book.

Here are four of them plus my comments in italics:

  • Implement a global Magna Carta to bind the world’s democracies together in the face of dictatorships and terror. This would replace the UN, which at present gives power to nations which fail to meet basic democratic standards. Some western liberals think that a nation-state should be free to adopt a non-democratic way of life. This means giving power to those who do not believe in the freedoms which have emerged from the Enlightenment in the Judeo-Christian world.  Once such people acquire the technology of destruction  no country is safe (remember World War II?).

  • Launch a global trillion dollar alternative energy initiative to tackle the problem of finite fossil fuel reserves, problems with nuclear power and indefinitely increasing demand for energy. This would create new jobs, stimulate R&D  and hopefully allow a supranational grid on the African continent, where a billion people have inadequate access to the power needed to build a society where there is no hunger, no thirst, good health services, freedom from drudgery, good communication and a rich variety of education for all.

  • Establish bases on the Moon and Mars to inspire the dreams of humanity and encourage innovation. Perhaps, in addition, an asteroid defence system could be developed internationally. The probability of a serious asteroid impact is extremely small but the damage done to civilisation, if not to much of the life on our planet, would be enormous. In any case, cosmic projects of the type proposed by Kasparov would help break down frontiers of nation, race, class and religion, raising our awareness that we all share a common humanity (deriving, I believe, from our Creator).

  • Replace financial engineering with real engineering. No one with a degree should be allowed go into financial engineering. This would lead to the required increase in the quantity and quality of scientists and technologists. Financial systems should be kept simple enough to prevent smoke-and- mirror tricks with oceans and rivers of money. Accountancy should be reinvented as an almost sacred profession, where knowing the truth about the financial state of a bank, company, government or any other organisation is recognised as a necessity for a stable, fair and prosperous society. Science, engineering and education should also revere truth, rather than what gets you a research grant or a pay cheque or the acclaim of your peers.

All this would cost money, but only a fraction of that spent on rescuing a dysfunctional banking system and making ordnance. I don’t pretend that getting from here to where I am suggesting we (as a race) need to be is not a big problem, but this problem pales into insignificance when compared to the problems we would face if the former one is ignored.

Author, 2077 AD