Climate change, inequality, reduction of the wildlife population, city planning, and automation of the job market. These are the pressing topics in society that were debated when Mr. Indy Johar took the Big scene as keynote speaker at this year’s Trends & Traditions.
According to the debater, who is CEO and co-founder of Dark Matters Laboratories, we are in the middle of a time of conflict. Even though many things feel like business as usual, the world is facing massive and quick changes – we can no longer talk about changes that will affect our kids, but instead we must respond to these changes now.
Accompanied by a slideshow, David Kong covered some of the topics and projects that Fosters + Partners have solved around the world. And in space.
1. Forget the idea of the individual
We often think that we – and other individuals – are brilliant and fantastic on our own. But that is nonsense. Utter rubbish, as Mr. Indy Johar put it.
For instance, he told us about a CEO that he found to be amazing – until he met him two years later and he had left the organization and was just a regular guy. It turned out that it was not the man himself, but the position he had and the streams of information he had access to that made him great.
Other examples are how poverty and social inequality are passed on from generation to generation – how economic scarcity e.g. reduces children’s IQ with 13 points. How so-called micro-racism, the way we treat each other every day, shortens our lives significantly because we get stressed and become more vulnerable to lifestyle diseases.
The teaching is that we are all products of the system, society, and each other – we are tangled up in and dependent of each other.
2. Problems are complex
In a very complex world, we have a tendency to focus on symbols instead of realities. For instance, the British government banned plastic straws as a response to climate change, but plastic straws only make up less than 1% of all plastic in the world.
The world’s challenges are not based on simple cause-and-effect correlations. We cannot just put an equal sign between sugar and obesity. Instead, there are a lot of factors that result in the consequences.
We often blame ourselves when we have problems. This is my fault, I make bad decisions. But in reality, there are many outside factors, such as society, the environment we live in, and our lifestyle, that influence and limit of decisions. Just like the mom with two jobs, who only has a few hours with her children in the afternoon and therefore gives them take-away instead of a healthy dinner that takes long to cook.
We need to be able to design societal solutions that respond to these complex situations.
3. Embrace the boring
We are often seduced by smart and sexy products. Our big challenge is, therefore, to re-design regular, boring things that provide solutions to our problems. Things such as city planning and solutions for everyday problems.
For instance, Indy Johar spoke about how big cities think in terms of new ideas and products to prevent pollution and flooding. They are installing sewers instead of looking at existing options – for instance, a city’s trees are not just an economic cost. Instead, they are a huge asset that can counteract problems such as pollution – and also add to the citizens’ zest for life.
Read more challenging and inspiring talks by Indy Johar here: http://darkmatterlabs.org.