There are many reasons why we should give up hope. Newspapers, TV, Facebook and Twitter feeds inundate us with apocalyptic stories of a world gone awry. ISIS is a disaster. Brexit is a disaster. Trump is a disaster. China is a disaster. Global warming is a disaster.
Yes, it is true that we are living in uncertain times, and yes, it is true that we now face some of the greatest challenges in human history. But, in this depressing landscape full of threats and risk, there is a bright light on the horizon: technological innovation.
Technological progress has provided and will continue to serve as our single greatest source of opportunities and solutions to humanity’s most pressing needs. Through technological innovation, by researching, exploring, and working across disciplines to create new and unexpected solutions, we can resolve these issues and create better lives for everyone on Earth. The potential is almost boundless: artificial intelligence, biotech, nanotechnology, the shared economy, and so many others are completely disrupting traditional assumption about how the world works and how we fashion our lives. These sectors– and many others– provide much promise, and will undoubtably spawn new disciplines that we can’t even imagine today.
It is my fundamental belief that, despite everything that’s wrong in this world, technology will allow us to live better, healthier, and more productive lives. We could become better informed, have richer experiences, and increase the wellbeing of all populations across the globe. We could create a literate world, a world without Malaria, and remove microplastics from the ocean. Technological innovation has the power to completely reshape our futures, and soothe the wounds we have already inflicted.
Today, with only intellectual curiousity and an Internet connection, you can know the world. Never in our history have we had such unparalleled access to information, all available in the palms of our hands at the swipe of a screen. To be good at something, to be important, and to make a contribution, you do not need to take a plane and fly to London or Paris to attend prestigious universities. Use the Internet to connect with people who share (and disagree with!) your ideas, combine your mental faculties and THINK.
Creativity, by definition, does not follow tradition. You don’t need anyone’s permission to come up with a solution; good ideas don’t require a faculty endorsement. Do not let your financial situation, physical location, or lack of resources stand in the way of what you can achieve. People have done much more with much less. Find a passion, a cause, or subject that genuinely sparks your interest. Then cultivate that knowledge by any means necessary, knowing full well that you have the entirety of human knowledge at your fingertips. Use them.
To launch into the future, you need motivation and a commitment to changing your community’s future through innovation. I know there is a lot going against you, and there are many reasons to give up hope, but don’t. Do not give up hope. Do not relent, do not give in to challenges, and do not stop working to build a better future with whatever tools your hands can reach. Today, technology has given you plenty.