WASHINGTON – Yes, globalism is not a conspiracy theory, except for those who practice it.
And that fact was on public display in Dubai this weekend featuring experts like Robert DeNiro on climate change, Goldie Hawn on making kids happy, actor Forest Whitaker on how women and youth are keys to solving global challenges, Grammy winner Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas on technology and development, Malcolm Gladwell on government’s role in shaping prosperous societies and Ariana Huffington on the Third Women’s Revolution.
You may note the predominance of American presenters, but don’t be misled.
This is a very anti-American three-day globalist summit at the Madinat Jumeirah and sponsored by the United Arab Emirates.
Angel Gurria, the head of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, kicked things off by characterizing President Donald Trump’s economic policies – the ones that have created jobs and prosperity while cutting taxes – “an excellent example of the kinds of things we shouldn’t be doing.”
Contrast this with the 2016 summit at which President Obama provided a video greeting.
Trump and the U.S. were pilloried for hostility to trade agreements and fighting climate change.
DeNiro, for his part, launched into an anti-American tirade by saying, “I flew here last night from a backward country, a place where science once reigned and lately has been replaced by ignorance.” He drew applause after predicting that Trump would be voted out in the 2020 election. Last year, at the summit he said that Trump has caused America to lose its position as a global ambassador in the fight against global warming because “we have a leader who’s not leading, that doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
Such comments, apparently, were enough to get him re-invited this year to the fabulous resort that resembles, according to one observer, “a 12th-century Middle Eastern fortress, crisscrossed by picturesque canals and bordered by two kilometers of private Persian Gulf beachfront, it feels almost too opulent to be real.”
There were more arcane presentations, too, on the opening day of the summit – like one by the Museum of the Future in which guests learned that artificial intelligence, or AI, will evolve into hybrid intelligence, combining the powers of the human mind and intelligent machines.
Another exhibit predicts a future UAE Cabinet that includes ministries for “extraterrestrial affairs” and “human potential.”
A tour guide explained hit on perhaps the main point, saying AI is “not scary like Terminators.”
Then there was Neil Harbisson, billed as the world’s first “cyborgist.” What does that mean? He shows a passport photo in which he wears head antenna that the British Government accepts as part of him. He explains it’s high time that the governments should accept that some people will be “part-technology, part-human” in the future.
“I have an antenna that is implanted inside my head, which allows me to extend my perception of reality beyond the visual spectrum,” he explains. “I can sense infrared and ultraviolet, and I also have an internet connection in my head that allows me to receive colors from other parts of the world, or connect to satellites so I can send colors from space.”
Harbisson is a co-founder of the Cyborg Society and the Transpecies Society, organizations that represent people who identify as non-human. One might ask, if they’re non-human, why the need for a passport?
Bjarke Ingels, founder of the BIG architectural group, best known for the Lego headquarters in Denmark and Abu Dhabi’s Warehouse 421 project, explained how humans will live on Mars one day – probably underground to reduce exposure to radiation. No one suggested that staying away from Mars would serve the same purpose.
He explained, though, that of all the planets in the solar system, Mars is the most suitable destination for a new settlement and is reachable in only three months with existing rocket technology.
“There are all of the ingredients to sustain life on Mars using exactly what is already there,” he said optimistically.
The summit is described as a forum for government leaders to discuss innovation, technology, and futurism. More than 4,000 people from 140 countries and 16 international organizations are attending this year to hear 130 speakers.