Language is not a tool that mechanically connects signs and meanings. It is a complex system in continuous evolution. The hypothesis underlying Imminent’s 2022 Research Report is that we will witness a great evolutionary leap forward in the XXI century. If this hypothesis is realistic, today’s young people will be the leading figures of an accelerated transformation. Those who are young today are destined to experience the new atmosphere – both environmental and cultural – of our planet. They are the generation of the XXI century:
Imminent Research Report 2022
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The people who will experience the most complex transformation in human history were born during the past twenty years. They live mainly in Africa and in the parts of the world where the effects of development are yet to be fully felt. But everywhere in the world is searching for a voice and a perspective of its own. The young people of today are destined to mature in age during the course of the XXI century; they will have to face unprecedented challenges, albeit with the aid of resources and technologies that the humans of the past could never have even imagined. And they will have to learn to stay informed, to communicate, to make decisions together. How will these people express themselves? What will they want to say? What will they have to learn in order to communicate in a scenario that promises to be profoundly different from the past? And how will they be able to remember the experiences of the humans who came before them?
Life in the XXI century will be a journey into the unknown. The earth will experience the consequences of climate change, which is likely to cause the exodus of hundreds of millions of people who live in areas destined to become uninhabitable. Meanwhile, as mentioned in the cover story, much of the world’s population will have to adapt to the social and energy-saving solutions that will emerge to safeguard the economy and reduce CO2 emissions. Moreover, technology will evolve in directions that are dif cult to predict, especial- ly at the cutting edge of genetics, neuroscience, robotics and nanotechnology, challenging society to act wisely when it comes to seizing the opportunities offered by systems capable of modifying DNA and brain structures: changes studied by Martina Ardizzi and Kirti Vashee. Human inter- connectivity will intensify even further, giving rise to con- sequences never seen before in the new millennium, an era of connections and platforms that manage them, also redefining and supercharging interactions between people and machines. Collective organisations will have to modernize drastically to remain capable of controlling processes, as discussed by Isabelle Andrieu, with profound faith in hu- manity. The complex dynamics of economics will be exploited: to find out more, follow the work of the research group at the Fermi Centre, which contributes to our T-Index. The decisions taken by companies will be fundamental in constructing the backdrop against which the century evolves, as highlighted by Salvatore Giammarresi. And the community of linguists that is emerging to engage in research with Imminent will be empowered to make its own direct contribution to our understanding of the linguistic trans- formations taking place against the emerging evolutionary context. Examples of this invaluable contribution include the endeavors of Vivekananda Pani, who writes about the future of localization in India, and Priya Mani, with her in- sight into “Food, designed for cultures”, all about food as a vehicle for social change and a communication tool through which new languages and cultures can be known, under- stood and “embraced”.
Awareness is key. The people of the XXI century, born after 2000, will see the consequences of the choices being made today in the fields of demography, ecology, and economics. However, as the XXI century follows its course, they will gradually take their destiny into their own hands.
The science of collective intelligence tells us that decisions will be better the more they are driven by deliberation processes based on diverse cultural approaches enhanced by respect for different worldviews. Multilingual platforms will be essential in all this. In drawing up its Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles, In the age of the web, it is particularly significant that the European Commission established that a multilingual public space is a human right. And in developing this diversi ed public space, platforms and people will have to learn to recognize linguistic borrowings, the coming together of viewpoints, affirmations of traditional identity, new trends and new languages: a topic investigated with a focus on visual design by Patrizia Boglione.
The people of the XXI century, who will be called upon to choose between submitting to change or leading humanity into its future, are made up of today’s youth, i.e. tomorrow’s adults and ultimately the elderly. Their will communicate in a way that responds to emerging questions. If they remain obsessed with diversity – committed to respecting or defending it – they will develop constraints that could prove fatal to global cultural development. Indeed, the value of diversity can only be recognized when common ground for comparison and interaction is cultivated. Overly rigid identities are of little help. In order to cope with the massive cultural reshuffle to be expected in the XXI century, to value diversity and recognize common ground, humanity will need to individually and collectively develop an awareness of the plurality of life’s dimensions. In this context, languages, translations and localizations will take on strategic and multidisciplinary roles capable of enabling the communication necessary to develop the value of this diversity in search of collaborative endeavor.
Technological progress and human development will go in the same direction, or they will go nowhere. Amidst the complexity of the experience that the XXI century generation will have to face, a regularity will emerge: people who are different yet similar will confront each other and cooperate at the same time, developing relationships inspired by symbiosis paradigms. In this way, by making mistakes and learning, this generation will change the atmosphere of the planet: oXXIgen.