In Need of a “Renewal of Perspective” in the Era of Transition
- Date : 21-12-01
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These days, the term "transition" is frequently used in the media. The expression, “great transition,” is used for further emphasis. Phrases related to transition, such as “capitalist transition,” “civi l ization transition,” and “wealth transition” abound in the aisles of bookstores. What is the rationale for using the term “transition,” defined in the dictionary as “changing the condition or direction of,” instead of terms like development, progress, or innovation?
It may be due to the perception that our society is at a crossroads in this chaotic era aggravated by COVID-19. Or, perhaps, the bigger reason is the element of “sustainability.” For a long period of time, development and innovation in the fields of science and industry have shown a tendency to progress through the annihilation of existing systems. Thomas Kuhn and Joseph Schumpeter referred to this process as “scientific revolutions” and “creative destruction,” respectively. Any phenomenon which is unexplained by existing science is transformed by the emergence of new theories. However, the term “transition” seems to retain the spirit of complementary progress, rather than confrontational development with the existing system.
Mankind has a history of great transition. The replacement of more primitive forms of energy, such as wood, coal, and oil, with modern combustion sources was a process of transition in energy. Some scholars seek digital origins from Morse code and Turing machines in the short view, and others in the long view from signal fire, which has been in use since the ancient South American and Chinese Zhu Dynasty. It is a widely known fact that Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who completed the binary system, was inspired by the philosophy behind yin and yang. The simple principle of turning off and turning on brought about dramatic change to human life, because it combines the knowledge and technology of a specific era.
Scholars who study social phenomena explain the “process of transition” and the enormous pressure created by social needs as a driving force for technological and institutional breakthroughs. It creates a niche among existing methods and forms a new system that directs the transition. This pressure is now past its critical point. The task of our time is to find triggers for creating niches in the existing system, such as by identifying so-called “game changers,” and establishing a political, institutional, and cultural infrastructure and consensus that will accelerate the formation of the new system. Science and technology, along with the economic and social systems that mankind has built thus far, have driven the "availability” of imagination; however, it has not yet been made “sustainable.” This is why the Digital New Deal and Green New Deal have emerged as core agendas for our society. The Era of Transition requires a major shift in perspective. The essence of recent digital transformation is not to replace or destroy existing systems, but simply to bring intelligence to the analogue. The transition to a hydrogen economy will also be attributed to lower dependence on carbon resources to a level that can ensure Earth’s sustainability.
We often describe phenomena related to growth, resources, and innovation which contradict with our expectations using words such as “paradox” or “curse.” Climate change and polarization are the products of numerous confrontational and exclusive growth and innovation paradoxes that have cascaded over nature and society. The Era of Transition represents our efforts to overcome this previous era of paradoxes and curses. Hence, we should now heed the perspective of “transition” as we transition from the physical age to the digital age, from the age of engines to the age of fuel celss, and from the carbon age to the hydrogen age.