I just got into a debate with a friend about the future of the world. Dangerous to get into a debate with a futurist, but hey, I upset her. My premise is that the world is globalising and will continue to do so. Brexit, Trump, trade wars, Syria, Yemen and other current affairs are all the dying whispers of the anti-globalisation movement. We will end up as one planet.
She objected. She believes you must have localisation to be relevant.
I said not. My first major long-haul trip outside the UK was back in 1987, and all I remember is arriving to a city – Singapore – that greeted you with McDonalds at Changi airport. There were some remnants of old-world Straits Chinese but not much. Today, you would be hard pushed to find any. Most major cities – New York, London, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney – are a good mix of all nationalities, unified by a common language of English, and with a homogenous bucket of brands from Starbucks to KFC. Most of the world is learning or already speaks English. Lucky me. We are one world with one language.
She hated this idea and pushed back hard saying that languages were still separated, as are countries. Spain still has flamenco dancers, Germany beer festivals and the Polish pierogi.
I pushed back saying that flamenco was only danced in Spain for the tourists, German beer festivals are found all over the world and pierogi is just a variation of Italian pasta I can eat anywhere.
She said that the world was changing but too many people have memories of wars. It’s why the Polish hate the Germans and Russians, the Scottish and Irish hate the English and the French hate everyone.
I said that a world of hate is not sustainable. We need a world of love. Old arguments die hard, but they are dying. The Irish and Scottish tolerate the English, the Poles are part of Europe and many still speak Russian, and the French … well, they are the French.
There, she said. I got you.
I said not really, as I remember that Jacques Chirac, the recently deceased former French president, commissioned a research program to create a French version of CNN. After months of planning and millions of francs spent – yes, this was pre-euro – the report came back saying that the French news channel would be a global service … spoken in the English language. There you go.
She still would not accept this idea of a global society, joined by a global government and a global currency, thinking and speaking as one. Look at South America, look at Africa, look at Asia, she said. They are all different.
Yes, I said. They are all former colonies. That was 18th century globalisation.
She said, look at Europe. We are not one country. We are many countries separated by language and culture.
Yes, I said. But if the Germans have their way, it will all be one united state run out of Berlin.
That’s why I voted Brexit, she said.
And that’s why I voted Remain, I said.
One day, we will be a multiplanetary species united on Earth to speak one language, live in one culture and travel as one humanity, linked by the network and connected to all. That’s what Digital Human’s future postulated, and I firmly believe that give it another 200 years and we will be well on the way there.
After all, we have been travelling in this direction inexorably for the last 200 years. If there is a global group like the G20 that wants to make it happen. It will be so.