The news these days from Africa isn’t all bad. In fact, in some places, it’s downright hopeful, as Rwandan President Paul Kagame (b. 1957) attests. “Our continent is no longer all about violence and disease and human disasters that scarred many African countries in recent decades,” says Kagame. “We are now becoming a continent of opportunities.” There are those who doubted Rwanda could “constitute a viable state,” says Kagame, but 14 years after bloody genocide and civil war, his country has managed an astonishing revival.
Tom Brokaw (b. 1940) characterizes the transformation of the world by digital technology as a second “Big Bang,” a time of great possibility, but also of danger. This revolution is being advanced not by “a small collection of monkish wonks working in a secret lab” but by a vast and ever larger population ranging from inventive teenagers to military analysts in the Pentagon, says Brokaw, who feel “power at their fingertips and in the bowels of their servers.” They believe that the world is limited only by their imagination. Yet, cautions Brokaw, “life is not a virtual experience. If we develop capacity and leave out compassion, what is the reward? What are the consequences if speed overruns reason?”
Robert M. White advises on environment, energy, and climate change, and development and management of organizations and research programs. Dr. White was President of the National Academy of Engineering from 1983 to 1995. Prior to that, he was President of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, and has served in scientific leadership positions under five U.S. Presidents.