Our world has never been so polarized. Thanks to the algorithms of social media and the constant distortion of information, we don’t talk to anyone outside our own bubble, we aren’t exposed to viewpoints different from our own, we don’t trust the media or the government, we don’t even agree on simple facts.
But to understand, let alone try to solve, the biggest challenges we face in the future, we need to start the dialog again. We need to debate our viewpoints in a spirit of respect and open-mindedness. Only by comparing and contrasting opposing ideas and strategies can we begin to decide which ones are worthiest of further exploration — and which ones require immediate action.
Boma Debates are open to the public. We announce the topic in advance — the ethics of genetic engineering, the social impact of mass migrations, the future of cryptocurrency — and we bring together a range of experts to argue their perspectives and to respond to questions, comments and critiques from the audience.
At a recent Boma France Debate in Paris, audience members had the opportunity to question two biotechnology experts about the future of the genome editing and DNA printing.
Michel Levy Provençal, the founder of Boma France, kicked off the debate by asking if these evolving technologies will fundamentally alter the human species. “In his book Homo Deus, Harari writes that our quest for health, power, and happiness will change our genes to the point that we are no longer human,” he said. “Is Harari delirious?”
This question sparked a lively debate between the experts and the audience about the purpose of technological advancement and the definition of what it means to be human. Many viewpoints were shared, many voices were heard. No matter how you felt when you started the evening, the dialog provided everyone in the room a richer understanding of the myriad ideas surrounding a topic fraught with ethical dilemmas.
At every Boma Debate, a diverse range of thought leaders of different opinions, insights and expertise form a semicircle on stage. The audience — of equally varying backgrounds and viewpoints — completes the circle. Everyone gets a chance to speak, and all ideas can be questioned or critiqued in a respectful constructive atmosphere.
To keep the dialog orderly and on-point, a Boma moderator directs the conversation by tossing a plush orange microphone to individuals who wish to enter the debate. Only those with the Boma mic can speak. This creates a fluid, logical flow of ideas and helps bring the most compelling ones to the forefront.
If you want to take an active role in helping to build a better future, these events are rare opportunities to understand and challenge multiple viewpoints on a single topic.
Would you like to host a Boma debate in your community? You can find out how here.