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World Problems and Human Potential

Describes intentions and results of Yearbook of World Problems and Human Potential.

World Problems and Human Potential
Preliminary results
Interesting questions

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Published in International Associations, 28, 1976, 2, pp. 102-108. An earlier report appearwed as World Problems and Human Potential a data interlinkage and display process (1975). (For the current situation with regard to this project, and the status of tbe Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, see:


Recognizing the considerable difficulties at this time of :

  • achieving any degree of intellectual consensus on matters of concern to more than one discipline or school of thought;
  • achieving any form of action-oriented consensus on mat- ters touching the concerns of different nations, ideologies or cultures;
  • compensating for the confusion, secretiveness and mu- tual hostility arising from the claims, counter-claims and grantsmanship of the many organizations and individuals anxious to assert the special value of their own particular contribution to understanding the current state of the social system and priorities for action;
  • assembling and processing the large amount of relevant information on factors significant to any overview of the problems of the world and the resources which can be brought to bear upon them;
  • mobilizing the necessary financial resources and skilled personnel to undertake such a task given that is neither within the mandate of any official body nor legitimated by any academic perspective

The objectives of this project are :

  1. Identify information items and series which help to clari- fy the nature of
    1. all perceived world problems, both individually and as a complex of interlinked networks,
    2. the different kinds of intellectual, organizational and other resources which can be brought to bear on such problems, both individually and as a totality,
    3. the values in the light of which the problems are perceived and any action is initiated, and
    4. the concepts and processes of human development considered to be the ultimate justification of any human action and which, as such, both generate world problems and are frustrated by them.
  2. Establish a framework for such items of information concerning the world social system (particularly those conventionally perceived as being incommensurable or essentialy unrelated), in such a way as to permit new items to be registered, if or when they are recognized, together with any relationships between such items.
  3. Demonstrate the consequences of tolerating a larger number of information items in a series than is con- ventionally favoured without regrouping (e.g. 100 to 5,000 items rather than 1 to 50). (See also Appendix 3).
  4. Collect and process sufficient information in each of the different information series to demonstrate the na- ture of this approach and to determine its viability.
  5. Initiate a process to obtain further information and update the collected information by periodically providing a product which can be widely distributed to those prov- iding and using such information, constructively criti- cized, and used to improve the organized response to world problems. The design and utility of the product, as a vehicle for the information contained, should be such as to ensure that by its sale it could ensure the financial viability and independence of the project as a continuing exercise.
  6. Experiment with different forms of collaboration between organizations interested in developing particular features of the project or in improving the process by which new perceptions are identified and incorporated.
  7. Demonstrate the extent of the interrelatedness of the items of information included and the importance of the possibility of analyzing such information as inter- linked networks rather than as isolated items.
  8. Experiment with different methods of processing and displaying the information on complex interlinked net- works in order to facilitate their comprehension and an understanding of their mutual significance.
  9. Experiment with different methods of classifying and regrouping the items registered, whilst at the same time ensuring a relationship to existing systems of classification, where such exist.
  10. Establish a flexible computer-based system to facilitate the achievement of the above objectives (including the periodic preparation of a saleable product).
  11. Determine the nature and quality
    1. of the product which can be produced in fulfillment of these objectives and in the light of the above-mentioned constraints on any such project at this time, and
    2. of the process which can be initiated to eliminate defects progressivily, despite such constraints.
  12. Determine the extent to which such a process could help to constitute a stabilizing element in the shifting world of images concerning world problems, resources of various kinds, and their interrelationships.

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