Third Industrial Revolution

The Swiss mountain town of Davos has gone quiet. About a fortnight ago, however, it was abuzz with talk of the fourth industrial revolution: Robots, 3D-printed human organs, driverless cars. Soon it will be time to turn to another global confab, to celebrate India's preparations to embrace the first industrial revolution.
As global elites gathered in Davos this week, the World Economic Forum released a daunting survey that estimates that 5 million jobs will be lost across the world in coming years to robotic automation. Oxfam also reported this week that 62 ultra-rich individuals held as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people on the planet -- inequality too vast to last. While globalization and rapid technological advance empower some with unprecedented possibilities, they dispossess others, causing growing gaps in power and wealth that lead in turn to fear, resentment and violence. In this one world a race is on between the two consequences of change. As Jo Confino writes from Davos, "rapid advances in technology are pulling the world in opposite directions."(continued)
Even before the "Night of Shame" on New Year's Eve in Cologne further fueled an already fervent anti-foreigner backlash, German leaders were desperately looking to Turkey to stem the flow of refugees headed to Europe from the war-torn Mideast. Now 10 German tourists have lost their lives at the foot of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. They are the victims of yet another suicide bombing by the self-proclaimed Islamic State in the wake of Turkey's decision last July to allow U.S. warplanes to fly from its soil to attack militant positions in Syria. Along the old route of the Orient Express, violence and disorder are weaving an interrelated and self-reinforcing pattern of crises that will be hard to unravel. (continued)
What lurks behind the incapacity to resolve the destabilizing crises of North Korea's latest nuclear test and Saudi Arabia's frontal clash with Iran are the realpolitik considerations of Russia, China and the United States. (continued)
This week marked an historic milestone: More than 1 million refugees and migrants fleeing the global disorder of civil war, poverty and persecution this year landed on Europe's doorstep. It is the largest crisis of displaced people since world war ravaged the European continent seven decades ago. (continued)
To become a self-conscious "global thinking circuit," the virtual territory of the Internet needs a map that charts the currents and connects the dots of the worldwide conversation. Who are the most influential voices, and how do their ideas spread? This week, The WorldPost joined with the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute in Zurich to produce such a map, the 2015 Global Thought Leaders Index, which, for the first time, analyzes not only the dominant English-language infosphere, but also the other top language areas of Spanish and Chinese, as well as German. One notable result, as I report in my summary of the project, is that The WorldPost, as the global portal of the Huffington Post, has emerged in the two years since we launched as a top platform for the cross-pollination of ideas beyond borders. (continued)
Whatever the final outcome, the United Nations climate summit convening in Paris is already a unique event in the history of the planet. Using the scientific tool of reasoned projection, the most self-aware and conscious species, Homo sapiens, has collectively peered into the times ahead and seen the ruinous impact on generations to come from burning ever more carbon to fuel our present industrialized desire. Motivated by an ethics of the future, top leaders from across the world have resolved to preempt further damage to the fragile ecology of Earth's livable climate that has so far allowed human civilization to flourish. Whether that resolve is sufficient to meet the mounting challenge in a meaningful time frame is the existential question. (continued)
NEW DELHI -- At the Paris climate talks, the international community should resolve to phase out fossil fuel power plants and instead support biofuels and solar -- two technologies that have rapidly advanced to become competitive, efficient and sustainable.
The Turkish downing of a Russian jet that crossed into its territory while bombing targets in Syria complicates even further the play of contraries in an already bewildering set of Mideast conflicts. The episode introduces a fresh tension that could well pit NATO, of which Turkey is a member, against what Gopalkrishna Gandhi calls a fledgling new NATO, or New Anti-Terror Organization, that French President François Hollande is trying to organize globally in the wake of the Paris attacks. Hollande meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow this week. (continued)