Inspired by Scott Adam's Skeptical Journey, I decided to write me own list of realisations and moments of clarity, in chronological order. As Adams writes, a rational mind needs regular maintenance. One of the maintenance systems I employ is to remind myself of things I used to be sure about and later discovered to be untrue. A healthy rational mind needs regular doses of humility, as well as introspection.
Here is the approximate age at which I stopped believing in different stuff.
- Mickey Mouse (We call it "Topolino" in Italy) and cartoons in general as real people
- Santa Claus (Babbo Natale)
- Tooth Fairy
- Most people aren't mean and cruel
- Money isn't important for happiness
- Superior human races exist
- Looks don't matter
- People will understand if things are explained well enough
- Nationalism isn't really that bad
- College is always good for you
- Memories are generally accurate
- Alcoholism is a choice
- School reputation doesn't matter
- History as taught in school is generally accurate
- You can do anything you set your mind to
- Aliens are visiting us/have visited us already
- Politicians know what they are doing
- Money has inherent value
- The planet is too big for man to fuck it up
- Ceteris paribus, the better option will be implemented
- State controlled socialism works
- Gay is a "choice"
- Most adults know what they're talking about
- Don't swim soon after eating
- Free market capitalism works
- The government isn't controlled by big money
- Hard work is almost always rewarded
- Anybody can make if they try hard enough
- Environment doesn't matter as much as genetics
- A calorie is a calorie
- Germs are bad
- Talent and hard work will carry you farther than personal connections in your career
- All drugs are bad
- Humans are more likely to be real than artificial/software
- The stock market is mostly legitimate
- You can win an argument with facts
- Elections can work, we just need a good party to vote for
- Wealth doesn't make you more attractive
- If you're doing something wrong, the people around you will always let you know in a timely fashion
- Genetics doesn't matter as much as environment
- Most People avoid overt self-destruction.
- The golden rule works
- Everything can be explained to a person if you explain it the right way
- Being clever and intellectual is always a good thing
- Vaccines aren't safe
- The universe follows simple rules that humans can easily understand
- Vitamin supplements are backed by science
- Indefinite lifespan is impossible
- Drinking eight glasses of water a day is good for you
- Free will
- Management is a science
- Solving your problems can bring you lasting happiness
- Some men don't watch porn
- When somebody informs me of a quirk or a flaw I have, I'll be prompt to understand it and act accordingly. (Corollary: I need a minimum of 7 diverse people from different contexts and at different times.)
Feel free to comment and add your own below. This list will be updated as time goes.
This year the Nobel Peace Prize has been very personal for me. I was flown to Oslo to speak at the Telenor Youth Conference, to give a keynote speech to a wonderful group of 25 social entrepreneurs under 25, to share my vision with Esplori, the startup I founded, on how to democratise the tools for teaching and learning worldwide. I told them my life story, the mission that drives me, and some life lessons that I've learned along the way, that might be useful to them in pursuing their projects.
We did this in collaboration with the Nobel Peace Centre, and we were invited to the official Nobel Ceremony, at the Oslo city hall. As I write this on my phone, I'm sitting behind the king of Norway (trying to put my thoughts into words without getting caught).
This year's prize goes to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The speech justifying this choice outlines what the OPCW has achieves in the last 15 years, with a significant reduction of chemical weapons worldwide, many countries signing the treaty, and the steps they took in making the world safer.
All this is very good, chemical weapons are a real threat and I'm sure OPCW has done excellent work in the past three lustra. However, I find myself in a state of emotional conflict. While I understand the reason for this choice, I see its merits, and I'm honoured to be here at the ceremony, I also feel that this has been a very, to use a mild term, safe choice.
What I mean by that is that there are a few elephants in the room, and this year prize seems to be ignoring them wholly. The United States is the country with the most troops deployed worldwide (1,3 million in more than 150 countries), and plays a crucial geopolitical role. The fact that Obama, a warmonger, received the prize a few years ago is a disgrace, and it undermines the credibility of the organisation as a whole. Giving the prize to OPCW is a safe choice, one that offends no one, and it could have been given any year, since they've been around for so long, and they are (luckily) likely to stay here for some more, hopefully until there are no more chemical weapons in the world.
But the political climate of 2013, I think, was not in need of a safe choice. It required a bold action, one that would send a strong message. Personally, I think it should have been given to Manning, Assange, and Snowden, for exposing war crimes, government abuse, and bringing the topic to the public spotlight, while also carefully selecting the material, ensuring that no human lives were at risk as a result of the leaks. This would have been a smack in the face of governments and agencies that are committing crimes against humanity, against millions of people every day, and would have put into question the imperialism grandiose plans that are being enacted without us knowing, without our consent, against most constitutions of civilised countries, ironically using public money to do so.
This is my two cents, and while I'm honoured and humbled to be here at the Nobel Peace Ceremony, I have a bittersweet taste in my mouth, thinking that it could have been so much more than a safe walk in the park and pats on the back.
Maybe a mid way would have been more appropriate, with a shared prize between OPWC and the whistleblowers, though I don't know if that's even allowed by the rules.
Perhaps the future will change my mind, but as of now, I think that bold actions, not safe choices, are required to restore the credibility of this ceremony. And in a perfect world, next year they would take away the prize from Obama, but maybe I'm just being delusional.
Esplori at the Telenor Youth Summit, Oslo, interview
Join the community: http://esplori.net
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Link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4sDsUFJEgY
Esplori’s CEO, Federico Pistono to speak at Telenor Group’s inaugural Youth Summit, inspiring these entrepreneurs to follow their dreams.
In partnership with the Nobel Peace Centre, Telenor Group has organised a gathering of youth from the millennial generation, who use technology for social change, aiming to fuel ideas where mobile phone technology can provide solutions that address societal and economic challenges.
All 25 candidates at the summit, through passion and commitment, have developed ideas and they will get a chance to further enhance them in an international setting and in the spirit of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Telenor Group has invited Federico Pistono, the CEO of Esplori, to the summit to inspire the participants from across Asia and Europe by sharing his experience and insight.
Esplori is already on its way to positively impact many people through the intelligent use of communication technologies.
Esplori (http://esplori.net) started in June 2013 in partnership with Dotsub, a global leader in providing multi-lingual online videos, to help democratise the tools for teachers and learning worldwide. Pistono’s 40-minute speech at the summit will focus on what young entrepreneurs can learn from his mistakes, experience, and vision, in order to positively impact millions of people.
“I think we are facing many challenges today, bigger than ever. But we also have the greatest opportunity to make a dent in the universe, and we don’t need as many resources as in the past. We need passionate young people with visionary ideas, a lot of enthusiasm, but who can also be practical and turn their dreams into reality,” said Pistono, who will turn 28 the day of the event.
Energy and creativity will be key during these inspirational days.
The summit will be hosted by Telenor Group CEO Baksaas, in collaboration with the Nobel Peace Center, a renowned strategic sponsorship held by Telenor for many years.
For further details about the summit, please visit Telenor Group’s press release here.
For more information about Esplori email [email protected]
The Future of Society and new ways of learning - Lecture at the University Of Life Sciences in Oslo, Norway
Here's a professional recording of my lecture at the University Of Life Sciences Oslo, Norway, on The Future of Society and new ways of learning.
In November 2013 I held three lectures while he was in the Oslo area. The one on the video was at The University of Life Sciences at Ås (UMB) arranged by StartUMB. The other lectures were held at 657 Oslo: Coworking, communication & purpose, and the last at Chateau Neuf: The Norwegian Student Society arranged by Das Kapital (Radio Nova) and Foreningen for Ressursbasert Økonomi (FRØ).
The pace of technological innovation is speeding up at an ever increasing rate. This is bringing unprecedented and incredibly rapid changes to the economy and society at large, particularly in the job market.
Automation is removing jobs like never before, while comparatively few new jobs are being created by the new digital economy. This might be one of the greatest challenges that we've ever faced, but it could also represent our biggest opportunity. What can people and companies do right now to avoid being swept away by the exponentially increasing technologies that are coming to the market? What can governments do to provide for their people? What will be the future of work and of society? What will the transition look like, who will benefit from it, and who will be left behind?
I think there is hope for the future, as new technologies for learning and sharing knowledge are becoming more accessible, ubiquitous, and people are engaging more in collaborative, open projects. Years of research, discussion, and activism have shaped my worldview and gave me clarity about how I want to positively impact hundreds of millions of people.
I first wrote a book, "Robots Will Steal Your Job, But That's OK", which I released also for free on my website and started a global discussion on the topic, and more recently I founded a startup, Esplori, to enable the sum of human knowledge to be made available to anybody, via online video courses, regardless of their language, geographical location, or financial status.
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