And hackneyed as that mantra might now be, the evidence is all around us — institutions are distrusted and derided, expertise is mocked and scorned, xenophobia and populism are on the march.
When human affairs seem more than usually baffling and bewildering, it is tempting to suppose that there may be simple solutions to complex problems — and in a government that risks at any moment being undone from the inside , we can see how widely this attitude has taken hold. As with Harold Wilson in the s, so again today, the answer to the challenges we face is thought to be found in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In his autumn budget, the chancellor spoke of embracing a new technological era, but he made no reference as to how we would come to understand it, or deal with what will surely be its momentous and challenging social consequences.
And while the initial funding for the industrial strategy focused on innovation and technological finesse — satellites and batteries, driverless cars and automation — little was made of how human beings will adapt to these changes. The government is right to plan carefully to address issues that have already revolutionised the way we live and work.
'Independence is a Way Forward' For Hong Kong, Student Leader Tells University
But all too often we look at these challenges through only a single lens, and it is to our detriment and our cost that we see science and society as separate or even as being opposed. Yet the challenges facing us today are as much human and societal as they are technical and scientific. We will need insights from psychology, from law, from sociology and history to address some of the great uncertainties of our time.
These subjects provide a deep understanding of the human consequences of change, and set our world in context.
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There are many great questions facing humanity today. Here are some of them. How can we make our cities better places in which to live? How can we ensure that we will enjoy a high quality of life as we age?
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How will automation affect the workforce? How will people spend the greater leisure time which it seems increasingly likely many of them will have? How should businesses behave more ethically?
What is the future of democracy? In the increasingly joined-up world in which we live, joined-up thinking and joined-up knowledge are becoming more essential than ever before. The Hong Kong government last month hit out at the city's Foreign Correspondents' Club FCC after it went ahead with plans to allow a pro-independence politician to speak at a lunch event in the face of widespread criticism from ruling Chinese Communist Party officials and supporters.
Chan Ho-tin, also known as Andy Chan, who heads the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party HKNP , gave his lunchtime address to the club in spite of warnings and threats from Hong Kong officials, and amid calls for the government to evict the club from its premises in the downtown Central district. Chan's political views "inappropriate and unacceptable," and constituted a "direct affront to the national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the People's Republic of China," according to the Hong Kong government.
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Hong Kong police have gathered more than documents as "evidence" in support of a proposed ban of the HKNP, citing many public speeches and comments made by Chan. Police say the party's aims of building a republic of Hong Kong and abolishing its mini-constitution, the Basic Law, are in violation of the law's first principle; that Hong Kong is an administrative region of the People's Republic of China. They cite Chan's pro-independence activities, which include "infiltrating" secondary schools via his party's "political enlightenment" program, publishing articles, taking part in elections to the Legislative Council LegCo , and various fund-raising and campaigning activities on the streets of Hong Kong.
The Security Bureau has extended a deadline for the party to respond to the police recommendation until Sept.
Rushing students through university and fixating on science is not the way forward
Critics say the Hong Kong government is now criminalizing speech in the city at the behest of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, for whom talk of independence is anathema. Under the United Nations-endorsed Johannesburg Principles governing national security and human rights law, restrictions to freedom of speech on the grounds of national security aren't legitimate if they seek to "entrench a particular ideology," rather than to stave off a violent threat of a military or internal nature.
Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.