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Have you worried about the state of the world today?

Nerds save the world
Forfatter: Sibylle Berg
Forlag: Kiepenheuer & Witsch (Tyskland)

VOLUNTARY WORK: Sibylle Berg has written a current book in which she interviews nerds who are trying to save the world.

(PS. This article is machine-translated from Norwegian)

Nerds save the world ("Nerds save the world") by the Swiss writer and playwright Sibylle Berg (b. 1962) consists of 16 interviews with various "nerds" from a wide range of disciplines: neurobiology, philosophy, neuropsychology and systems theory, to name a few.

The interviews were conducted as part of the research work for her dystopian novel GRM. Brainfuck (2019), over a period of two years, and was previously published in the Swiss online magazine Republik. So far this year, she has received three awards for her work: the Johann Peter Hebel Prize, the Bertolt Brecht Literature Prize and the Swiss Grand Prix Literature Prize.

In the hands of the nerds

The book was published just before the pandemic broke out, and the topicality is striking. During the pandemic, science is put to the test. We depend on the health service, doctors, researchers and scientists. Right now, hard work is being done to develop a vaccine against covid-19. The future is in the hands of the nerds. In this book, Berg examines and emphasizes the importance of the nerd's work for society.

You can not let life ruin you.

I Germany there are more who praise Angela Merkel #s crisis management during the pandemic due to her background as a physicist. But it is not just scientists and doctors who are valued now. Society has also discovered the importance of low-wage workers during the pandemic: nurses, grocery workers, cleaning workers and public transport workers. Maybe interviews with them will be Berg's next book project?

For one thing, the corona crisis has taught us, is that the store staff and the common spirit of hard work also help to save the world. Sammen do we save the world, or not.

Are you worried today?

Berg opens each interview with the question: "Have you worried about the state of the world today?" Dirk Helbing, physicist and professor of information technology from ETH Zurich, replies: "Yes, it's part of my job. But you can not let life ruin you. " Helbing designs computer simulations of how to motivate people to behave more sustainably.

He has made videos with solutions to world problems, where he believes, among other things, that democratic capitalism is the solution. Democracy and capitalism are the two systems that are most successful. That is why they must unite, Helbing believes. He is a supporter of citizens' salaries and believes that a new monetary system is what is needed: Today's system is too one-dimensional; we have rich and poor, powerful and powerless.

Marine ecologist, author and animal and nature conservation activist Carl Safina answers as follows if he is concerned about the state of the world today: «Funny! And yes. Often even in my dreams. That is why our dogs are allowed to wake us up in bed in the morning and let us enjoy life and remember that it is beautiful, so that we can get a good start to the day. "

Safina says that the brains of animals and humans are similar, and that animals also have an awareness of empathy and compassion: All dogs react when a human cries, elephants, whales, wolves and birds look for a killed companion or a family member for several days.

Elephants are far more loyal and peaceful to their families than we humans are. Safina hopes that more studies will be done on human empathy, considering our history of war and misery as long as we have existed on this planet. Do animals have more empathy than humans, and are they better suited to live in peace than we are?

Structural racism

Political scientist Emilia Benzile Roig replies that she has not worried about the state of the world today, since she rarely reads newspapers. The theme for Roig's doctoral degree is about intersectional discrimination in the French and German labor markets. Intersectionality describes the intersection of inequality systems based on gender, religion, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, identity and social background.

Elephants are far more loyal and peaceful to their families than we humans are.

Roig believes that as long as we refuse to understand racism as a system based on white supremacy, we can only deal with a small part of the problem. According to her, humanity is divided into two major groups: the superior white race and the rest into subgroups. Provocatively enough, the world works that way today. We last saw it with George Floyd, but that's just one example. In fact, many cases occur every single day, all over the world.

In Norway, the debate on structural racism and discrimination in the Norwegian cultural industry has been going on for a number of years without leading to any particularly visible changes. This year, the debate has reopened in Rushprint, Dagsavisen and Klassekampen.

Recently, we saw the dazzling white Hedda nominations, and the Norwegian Film Institute's action plan for diversity, which since its launch has been criticized by several filmmakers. When will the minority be treated in the same way as the majority?

I have also worried about the state of the world today, Sibylle.

Pinar Ciftci
Ciftci is a journalist and actor.

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