Free Trade and Monoculture

From Weekly I/O#71

Globalization generates monocultures that are all diverse in the same way. Free trade of cultures can lead to conformity and mediocrity on both personal and societal levels.

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Globalization allows cultures to connect, leading to increased creativity and diversity. However, the long-term consequences of this 'interchange' often entail the dilution of cultures as the more dominant cultures absorb smaller ones.

Ironically, as the world becomes more interconnected, what we perceive as "diversity" may just be a form of monoculture. Every city has restaurants from various cultures, from Vietnamese and Burmese to Korean and Turkish. While it appears diverse on the surface, homogenization is taking place, making us all "diverse in the same way."

We've cashed in on many small cultures and produced a monoculture of diversity, which leads to a looming concern that, along some critical dimensions (diversity is multifaceted), our next century will be less creative than the last. Free trade generates too much monoculture. We need to increase the transaction cost to balance interchange and isolation.

While immersing oneself in various cultures can enhance creativity on a personal level, on a larger scale, there's the risk of cultural dilution due to such interchanges. Furthermore, even for individuals, consistently receiving secondhand information pushes us towards conformity and mediocrity rather than innovative ideas. Ultimately, it boils down to how one utilizes new information: to interpolate, extrapolate, or invent.

Source: Demis Hassabis: creativity and AI – The Rothschild Foundation Lecture

Demis Hassabis: creativity and AI – The Rothschild Foundation Lecture

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