21 lessons for 21set century

  1. don't rely on the adults too much (due to the growing pace of change you can never be certain whether what the adults are telling you is timeless wisdom or outdated bias)
  2. rely on technology? No
  3. know thyself

Chapter 1 Disillusionment: The end of history has been postponed

Chapter 2 Work: When you grow up, you might not have a job

Chapter 3 Liberty: Big data is watching you

Chapter 4 Equality: Those who own the data own the future

Chapter 5 Community: Humans have bodies

Chapter 6 Civilisation: There is just one civilisation in the world

...(read the book please)

Chapter 20 Meaning: Life is not a story

  • Who am I? What should I in life? What is the meaning of life?
  • People are expecting a story there (seriously)
  • Is there a Circle of Life (as in the tale of Bhagavadgita or the story of Likon King? Basically is everything connected, and everyone depends on everyone else?
  • Hakuna matata - no worries
  • two conditions satisfying meaning of the life:
    1. a role to play
    2. extend beyond a person's horizon

Chapter 21 Meditation: Just observe


I have read throught 21 lessons for 21st century, there are many lessons I have learned and the one has direct impact on me is to do meditation (Vipassana style as recommended or use headspace as I am currently doing). The major problem for me currently is that I am unable to focus over 10 minutes, sometimes even 5 minutes. By practicing meditation, I am hoping to have longer focus and better understanding of my own mind and reality presented to me.

Besides practising meditation, there is another concept or idea that impressed me, same as in homo sapiens, that is human beings believing in "fiction" such as money, nation, religion, ... The most believable "fiction" from my perspective is science. The science is based on evidence. People are free to doubt any scientific findings while if you repeat you mostly will have the same result. Peer-reviwed scientific journals is more trustworthy. But as a suspicious person, I have questioned the validity of ordinary life. There is a person told me not to judge others. I understand judging others seems to be a bad habit, however, when I re-think about it, it seems not that bad at all. For example, we call Africans black people because their skin color is darker and we related this group of people to athletic or poor-mannered or possibly criminals, etc. Or in China, people relate to geographical locations, such as people from Henan are thieves or people from Northeast are liars. Why would some people simplify others like this? There are countless counter examples. But why there is this phenomenon? Are people just biased? No, I think not. The truth is that the world is chaotic and we try to simplify chaos to categories from my perspective. It is always advocated that we should never judge people by their looks, however, subconciously or influenced by culture, our point of view are biased. That is the reality, sadly.

Back to the book, it also emphasizes the algorithm or artifical intelligence will "take over the world". Elites equipped with AI will work much more efficiently. Therefore, people who are unable to keep up will be replaced by AI. As a research intern in the fields of AI (RL more precisly) I too understand that professional workers working with AI advisor could have better insights of the problem/solution. By the way, Brave New World and 1984 are two great books that tells that if there is no difference between people, the world will be a much better place. But is that what we really want? Suffering seems terrible but on the other hand it makes life real. For example, I am short (5'7) but if I am as tall as everyone else would my life be different or is that the life I am looking for? Puhsing further, is there "self". Who am I? What is the meaning of life? Currently, I think by suffering life is real and by challenging myself to my limits I felt pleasure/achievments. Even though secular life does not provide me fulfillment of spirits, by doing small tasks I am filled with

The third point I am impressed with is that the use of rite (li3) in Confucianism. It is said the people give meaning to mundate life, such as eating bread and drinking wine as eating the flesh of Christ and drinking blood of Christ. Or in China, people relate four (si3) as unfortune since the pronunciation is similar to death in Chinese. Rituals such as wedding, coronation, etc. have meaning because we believed so. Another example coming to mind is virginity, in some cultures are of utmost importance while in some not.

Above all, the book provides many unique perspectives of human society from a historian's perspective through many different religions and background. I recommend reading it because it will broaden your horizons.

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