Anthony Giddens: Off the Edge of History
As part of our 'Engaging Sociology' series, Professor Lord Anthony Giddens presented a fascinating lecture entitled: 'Off the Edge of History: The World in the Twenty-First Century'.
Off the Edge of History
We live in strange and troubling times. The human race has progressed so far in the past few decades that we can no longer confidently predict the future. Our influence, both on nature, and on our own bodies is such that we have moved into a new epoch – the Anthropocene – and must recognise the significant consequences our actions are having both upon ourselves and the world around us.
Prof. Lord Anthony Giddens presents his lecture at Canterbury Christ Church University
According to Giddens, we are now living in a ‘high opportunity, high risk society' – a world in which the opportunities and the risks are greater than they’ve ever been before. On the one hand we have advanced automation, robotics and supercomputers that possess power far in advance of anything the world has ever seen. Yet this is juxtaposed against the very real and serious threats of nuclear war, global pandemics, terrorism and more besides.
Though the risks are great, so too are the benefits. Immortality is a very real possibility, and as a society we must face these challenges head on if we are to safely negotiate our way through the many opportunities and risks that confront us.
So should we feel optimistic or pessimistic about the future? In Professor Lord Giddens’ view at least, we don’t have enough information to be either. Until we have proper data with which to make a reasoned judgement, we should not worry unduly, yet still we should remain vigilant. We are living ‘off the edge of history’ after all.
About Anthony Giddens
Professor Lord Anthony Giddens is one of the most famous British sociologists alive today. He is the author of over 34 books and one of the most widely read authors in the social sciences and humanities.