Why are we in danger of going the way of the dinosaurs? What has caused progress to slow and governments, leaders and experts to suddenly become gridlocked, unable to solve our most dangerous problems?
The answer is complexity.
There's no denying it. Even the most brilliant among us is trapped in the same biological spacesuit -- a spacesuit that requires millions of years to develop new features. So what happens when the complexity of the problems we have to solve simply exceeds the capabilities we humans have evolved to this point?
The answer is that we come to an impasse. We reach a "cognitive threshold" beyond which we cannot progress. Another way to say this is that humans, and human societies, can go no further than their inherited biology will allow them to. It's an evolutionary reality that's haunted us since the beginning of time.
It's an issue I take on in my new book, "The Watchman's Rattle," which explores what happens when complexity races ahead of the brain's ability to manage it and the underlying reasons experts and governments can no longer fix global crises and conflict. In my book, I aim to connect the dots between crime, oil prices, Wall Street, global warming, nuclear waste and childhood violence, and explore the answer to our most challenging problems that lies in the greatest weapon of mass instruction ever known: the human brain.
But here, with an eye on survival, I compiled a list of the top ten things we could do to stay a few steps ahead of extinction.