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Unlocking the Power of Our Creative Potential

Commentators have, for many years now, warned of the cliff edge of the machine era. Automation, artificial intelligence, robotics, super computers and machines we can’t yet imagine but which are upon us; frequently held out as major threats to society as we know it. From manufacturing, to surgery, to adult social care; all are presented as being susceptible to technological solutions and the potential removal of human labour altogether.

Industrial replacement of jobs, mass unemployment, lack of purpose, challenges to human dignity and the risk that technological progress is not owned or applied for the benefit of all of us, paint a bleak prospect.

Thankfully, optimism flourishes when we rewrite this dystopia into an opportunity; a more hopeful vision of a new generation of highly innovative industries maximising our future population’s creative and intellectual talents. This more desirable alternative comes when a large proportion of our nation’s population are given the chance to possess the necessary skills to design, engineer and use the next wave of advanced technology. It looks like energetic and highly trained communities of millions of adults and young people alike, who are equipped to tackle climate change, embrace futuristic transport whether in outer space or virtual realities, or forge the way for radical solutions to health crises for cancer to genetic disorders.

If we can envision this world, where many millions are empowered to reach their human potential whether in the arts, modern manufacturing or as world class scientists, we must ensure it does not create new dividing lines. It must not intensify splits between rich and poor, exclude communities or shore up elitism in sectors that reserve, often unintentionally, the best jobs for small numbers of people from more fortunate beginnings. Leave these opportunities to a lucky few, and we miss the chance to build our utopia.

Indeed, not only would this repeat many injustices we see today, but it would then fail to provide the kinds of employment required in the coming decades to defeat the problems connected to the era of machines. But get it right, then we do not just avoid the catastrophe of human alienation, it builds an invigorated, diverse, entrepreneurial and expansive economy that paves the ways for hundreds of years ahead, and not just next quarter’s conceptually flawed GDP figures.

What this short essay sets out, is a simple idea for what we can do now to help make some of this a reality. This is the establishment of Creativity Centres. The modern society we see today did not spin out of thin air. It came from generations upon generations of great human minds building on what was there before them, whether in music, literature or physics. The evolution of this aggregated knowledge came when people were inspired by the ideas and brilliance before them; when current possibilities served as the platform for new ones. The opportunity we have here then, is to spark this notion of exciting possibilities in far more people, far sooner and for the many children that today do not yet know what they want to be or what their role in a changing society looks like.

People who work in the philanthropic effort to raise aspirations and opportunity for those coming from low-income backgrounds, underrepresented groups or people with a different skill set to the contemporary orthodoxy of what constitutes ‘intelligence’, have known for a long time that one of the key steps is to actually make young people aware of what is possible. Until people know what they can strive for and the successes they can have, they are constrained by the limits of their experiential sphere.

Too many people do not believe in themselves, because we have not done enough to tell them how brilliant they can be, and how brilliant they can make our country. While achievement requires role models, encouragement and sometimes support by way of welfare and funding in various forms, simply knowing what they can aspire to and how they can get there can be truly transformative. That’s where Creativity Centres step in.

Knowing this, we have the chance to bring the cutting edge of science, technology and artificial frontiers directly to the classrooms of our children. Let’s not wait until they battle through the postcode lotteries and varied life chances before we show our future workers about the next developments in rocket science, coding or quantum mechanics. They can be the ones to deliver it; they can be the bridge between our vision by being the ones to make positive science fiction and reality.

Of course, there are many excellent initiatives out there that work to inspire young people in schools, through online workshops or visits to leading laboratories. But Creativity Centres would seek something far more ambitious and wide ranging. Creativity Centres would bring children from all schools into close contact with an accessible overview of vanguard projects being led by the UK’s universities.

Through comprehensible insights on cutting edge technology or areas of human inquiry that push scientific boundaries, alongside artistic trades, we can inspire future generations and carve out new visionaries. In these Centres, it wouldn’t just be the universities that provided the ‘penny drop’ moments and elevated heart rate of excitement, but they would bring together inventors, writers, research and development departments of major enterprises and other creative organisations such as our country’s burgeoning social enterprise and tech entrepreneur sectors. And with the elastic brains of youth, we may see new ideas offered up in return – the child’s original perspective untainted by conformity, cultural dogmas and engrained academic paradigms.

A meaningful and coordinated effort to bring the newest ideas to the minds of our young people early through Creativity Centres, is good for the grandparents who want to see their grandchildren achieve, good for the parents who worry about what tomorrow’s world looks like and brilliant for society as a whole for its preparation for a world that is unrecognisable to the one we have now.

Universities already have obligations to bring their research and learning closer to the communities they operate within. Let us help tie these duties towards something that offers us a depiction of a society we can all feel excited to see.


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