Universities have endured for centuries. Why should they need to change today? This was the question put to me just last month by the Vice Chancellor [Research] of one of Asia’s top-ranking business schools. After drawing in my breath sharply, in a credible simulation of bewilderment, my very blunt answer was an impulsive precis of just two propositions:

  1. The context for how we share our lives together on this planet has plunged inexorably into a state of profound uncertainty, mostly from the exponential rate of transformational change globally in terms of economics, geopolitics, and converging technologies.

When our most fundamental…


What is sustainable economic growth — and is that the same thing as sustainable development? These two phrases are often used interchangeably. For me this becomes a problem while they remain irrevocably linked in their capitalist philosophical underpinnings.

In the context of the natural environment, sustainable economic growth is an oxymoron and the conviction it can be achieved a dangerous illusion. Continuous economic growth is impossible for one irrefutable reason: there are limits to growth in any closed system like the biosphere. Sooner or later planetary limits will be reached. No amount of effort can overcome or disguise that fact.


In natural systems, physical matter flows in cycles. Nutrients from one form of life become food for another. Organisms live and die, eventually returning to the soil or the sea where the cycle starts again.

During the industrial revolution we invented a different modus operandi. Industrialised, or mechanised production, was an innovative, rational response, to an escalating population requiring sufficient quantities of food, and whose labour, in exchange for wages, allowed workers to buy goods from the new factories springing up at the time. This was the birth of the first phase of capitalism.

In simple terms it is the…


Knowledge is the condition of understanding something that is meaningful, and potentially useful in some capacity. As such it is deeply subjective. What may count as knowledge for one sentient being may not have the same meaning for another. In other words, objective truth for you may not be the empirical truth for me.

Existing at differing levels of cognition and aptitude, knowledge ranges from autonomic information acquired both prior to and following birth, data absorbed on a second-by-second basis, mostly utilitarian in nature, that allows us to think and take action in real-time, information we discover through practice, intentionally…


Or, We Won. But Now What?

For us billionaires, it was always about playing and winning. Winning is the main game. And money — that goes without saying. While winning is our passion, money is our addiction. Our adrenalin hit. We are good at winning, which is very fortunate for you. Although most of us inherited our wealth, you profited from how we used that capital to stimulate growth. Naturally, our drive and acumen worked in your favour too. Let’s face it — you had an easy ride on the back of our generosity.

We discovered way back in the…


In case you hadn’t noticed, although I am not at all sure how you could miss it, many of our most life-critical systems are rapidly unravelling. The current pandemic has exposed some very deep fault lines in our civilisational model. Some of these are cracking wide open to reveal the abuse of power and the accumulation of wealth on a scale previously unimaginable. Both threaten our very existence.

Political systems are in crisis. Globalism has stalled. Work has dried up. Conflicts and state-imposed sanctions are being prosecuted with greater enthusiasm under a media smokescreen of public safety and healthcare. Meanwhile…


Recently I was captivated by an interview Anton Roux at ADC conducted with Martin Wolf — the Associate Editor and chief economics commentator at the Financial Times. What I heard were fascinating and compelling insights from a very experienced journalist I have long admired. For the most part I was in furious agreement with Martin’s analysis, and his compilation of surface litanies made utter sense. But I was left with an uneasy feeling that was all it was. A veneer. …


I have skulked around the sidelines of the academy all my life. Occasionally I have ventured into its alluring orbit only to beat a hasty retreat as I apprehended, again and again, how unaffected by its own product [that is learning] educational officialdom can be.

Educational establishments in many countries actually resist acquiring information of any kind that could imply the need for structural change of the institution itself. …


We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark. The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light ~ Plato

Honest, sensitive, overpowering. His words leapt off the page — etched into my lingering anxieties about the immediate future of humanity, set against the canker which continues to gnaw away at the souls of old empires –actual and imagined.

This particular Facebook comment was posted by a friend in California. A loving family man, smart, a designer of some note. A true visionary. …


Humankind is challenged, as it has never been challenged before, to prove its maturity and its mastery — not of nature but of itself. Rachel Carson — 1962

On July 14th, 1789 the French Revolution began with the storming of the Bastille. At the end of that significant day, King Louis XVI of France wrote in his diary, Rien. “Nothing happened.”

Most of us live in blissful ignorance, surfing on a wave of repetitive tasks, untouched by more arcane tides. It is not that we prefer or want it that way — though some do. Simply dealing with everything that…

Richard David Hames

Philosopher-Activist and Executive Director at Centre for the Future

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