Thanks to everyone who sent in their essays for PaperPerfect’s “If I ruled the World Essay Contest”. We had several hundred submissions altogether – many of them were truly ingenious. On the one hand, we had some very practical and realistic contributions on how to make the world a better place via political, economic or humanitarian changes. We also had some zany, dark or surprising entries.
Winner – Gaea Denker-Lehrman
After long debate, the chosen winner of the contest (and the $100 prize) is Gaea Denker-Lehrman, for the essay “Precious Ass Syndrome”, which outlines a plan to discourage the use of disposables starting with paper toilet covers.
It is a complete other issue to believe that your “precious ass,” the one you have sat on and passed gas through your entire life, is such a golden, gleaming thing that it cannot be allowed to touch even the sterilized porcelain of the toilet seat at a modern office building, for fear that–what? It might somehow become… unclean? More unclean than the very reason you brought it to that seat in the first place? This is like Exxon Valdez not wanting their ships to be contaminated by that filthy Alaskan water. Do you care at all that this takes place so you can have a paper-thin “sanitary barrier” between your ass and a sparklingly clean surface that fewer people have touched than the office door knob? Do you care that germs don’t live long on inanimate surfaces and you have zero chance of catching a disease by your thighs touching the same surface someone else’s thighs touched at some point in the past? For that matter, the paper barrier itself probably has more bacteria on it than the oft-cleaned toilet seat you’re so keen on protecting your “precious ass” from.
Why we like it: 1) Shocking, surprising specific example – unforgettable topic choice. 2) Tied to an actual world problem; disposable products 3) Uses humor 4) Controversial; will generate debate 5) Addressed to the reader (“Do you…”) 6) Descriptive, strong imagery and writing. 7) Strong conclusion, ties this problem in with more general improvements: “After all, it’s said that many people like to do their deep thinking on the toilet.”
Top Ten Finalists
Here are a few of our favorite passages and ideas from our top ten favorite essays:
First runner up – Lesley Blakley:
I should be addressed as something that many people like—not feared—something that is sweet and fluffy: Supreme Cupcake of Earth. How can you hate a cupcake? Understand that if there is an emotional problem with the word “cupcake,” never fear, it can be customized: Fat-Free Sugar-Free Cupcake, Vegan Cupcake, and so on. No one could ever be angry and have a coup against a cupcake. Love the cupcake! Earth’s Supreme Cupcake says it must be so.
Being that I am an American, I must meet or exceed the world’s expectations on my selfishness. I will declare war on Canadian weather; soon I will order the Great Wall of China chopped into pieces and reassembled at America’s North Border, its function two-fold: keeping out your bastardly Artic evil, Canada, and keeping you Canucks away thus preventing taint of our red, white, and blue culture. We’ve had our fill of Tom Green, violent hockey players, and lumberjacks (unless they are of the Monty Python persuasion). In addition, all meteorologists will be banned from their dark art, the imprecise prediction of Mother Nature. As Bobby Dylan—our future Nobel Prize winner—once put it: “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”
(…) If it’s true what they say, that children are our future, let’s get to work! It might be beneficial to throw out standardized tests, gateway exams, No Child Left Behind programs, Staying-After-Class-For-Extra-Credit (*wink wink*), and anything elitist. Academic tests only test what’s been memorized in those dinosaurs—what do they call them?—oh, books. Let’s really test the kiddies: new educations in the vein of Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. We will revamp the exchange student program thus creating Survivor-style exams in third world countries in order for the children to gain appreciation for their pretty little XBoxes, ipods, and post-modern high school angst. Unless we find a whole army of Holden Caulfields to help prevent entitlement issues before it’s too late.
Why we like it: This was a brilliant essay. Many references to classic and contemporary culture; creativity and voice of author, conversational writing style; insightful commentary on modern problems; engaging and surprising content.
Second Runner up – Bridget Price:
John Lennon’s song Working Class Hero would be the international anthem. 9 to 5 would be eradicated; a distant nightmare lost in the buzz of Xerox and coffee machines. There would be no pressure to choose a career or to be chained to full-time work in order to survive. The individual would not be forced into slave labour, sacrificing being for work, spending more time with office colleagues than family and friends. We would not be conditioned to believe that the only way to earn is to struggle, that money is the currency of survival and sacrifice essential.
Meditation would be integrated into education. Education would be free for everybody, free for the people inhabiting the barrios of Brazil to the housing slums of Sydney to the pueblos of Mexico. University would have open doors and the government would pour funds into teacher’s salaries, refurbishing libraries and resources, rather than tipping gold into oil and war, war and oil.
Why we like it: Nice writing tempo, alliteration, style. Specificity, theory and description of modern troubles; conveys many mental images.
I was in shock, had been the moment they announced that I had won the election. It had just now sunk in that I was the most powerful person in the world, at fifteen years old. (…) My plan was going to be to take two percent of the profit from the ten most successful companies of the year and use that money to buy food and clean water for the worlds poorest. Recycling would be mandatory and freedom of religion would be worldwide. I winced; the biggest change yet would be the most disagreeable one. I was going to eliminate all slaughterhouses in the world. No more animals would be pumped with steroids and locked in cages awaiting death. Vegetarianism was going to be much more common, killing animals that used to be eaten wasn’t going to be illegal, but I know that many people would not eat meat if they truly understood that in order to eat it, someone has to die.
Why we like it: specific action plan, descriptive and strong writing, visibility of author (I winced, etc)
I would make more holidays to acknowledge the people and items that have impacted my life very much, also for a little change in our daily lives. I would make a national holiday for ice cream, potato chips, and chocolate chip cookies. I would make a holiday honoring Norman Borlaug, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein. The would be a National Opposite Day, National Pajama Day, National No Work Day, and National Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day.
Why we like it: creative, personable; focuses on author’s private goals and desires.
Well, I did it. Be it by crushing the competition or smooth negotiating, I have gained control of the world. The people, the nations, the money, are all mine to manipulate. It is time to get to business. There are, as of recent times, some glaring problems in the world. Poverty and hunger has destroyed lives in every country; war is ravaging a generation of men, women, and children. The world is growing to be a more somber place every second. My goals as benevolent leader of the entire world would be simple: to improve the lives of my constituents and to steer this planet into a bright future (ruled, of course, by me).
The first step in solving our troubled planet is one every beauty pageant queen swears by: world peace. As leader of every man, woman, and child on Earth I would abolish all weapons of war. Submarines and battleships will be sunk; machine-guns melted down for scrap; bombs and mines disposed of. I would leave the teeming masses their personal weapons, for the purposes of preventing crime and for recreational use, but I would make full-scale war completely impossible.
Why we like it: specific agenda, strong writing, confidence of author
Let’s face it. From Joseph Stalin, to Adolf Hitler, and to Mao Tse Tung, our world has seen some very unsuccessful, harsh, and incompetent rulers. We have long awaited a change, and although some people think that said “change” has come with the United States’ current president, I personally beg to differ. The time has come to take an objective look at the efficiency of our world’s leadership. If I ruled the world and could make simple changes in government, laws, and other minor issues, we could put our world in the best condition it has been in since we humans have inhabited it.
English philosopher Thomas Hobbes said it best; we need government. The question is, “What kind of government and how much government?” From studying the past, we all know that anarchy could not suffice for our complex civilization today. Communism and absolute monarchy usually does not go too well with the people; when all is said and done, who wants an arrogant leader making every move for you and not listening to what you have to say? So over all, democracy, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people is our best choice.
Why we like it: Well researched and organized, clear development of content.
If I ruled the world I would outlaw essay contests with themes of the likes of “if i ruled the world”. I would let people write about whatever they feel like. I would accept each and every voice. I would actually, come to think of it, resign from my post as ruler of the world. If i ruled the world I would jump off the next bridge because, hey, who wants to rule the world? That is not what I would vie for doing, I’d rather sit here and listen to the noise of the keys being pushed down on this keyboard. If I ruled the world, I would refuse to rule the world.
(…) If I ruled the world I would hire someone to organize the thoughts in this essay and make it more coherent. I would eliminate all the f#@kin’ logical fallacies in this very essay, I would order people to be yes-men, but only yes-men saying yes to me. I would fire yes-men and substitute them with yes-women. And I would rule and rule. I would shush everyone who points out that I started this essay by questioning the validity of world rulers only to end up becoming more and more despotic.
(…) If I ruled the world I would keel over from exhaustion and that is why I don’t rule the world, that is why I am sitting here on this gloomy last day of this very decade typing away, writing this very essay, hiccupping words and catapulting sounds and sights into this computer trying to be poetic, trying to write and write and write. If I ruled the world I would outlaw the notion that essays have to have meaningful, insightful conclusions. If I ruled the world my essay would win the prize of the “If I ruled the world” essay-contest. Here, here.
Why we like it: honest, clear author voice, unique
Lynn R. Hartz:
There are two types of persons that I would immediately eliminate from the world– bankers and lawyers. Bankers and lawyers, you say? Why? We need them! No, we do not need bankers and lawyers. They prey on all the people in the world and the problems of wars are all caused by who owns what and what territory belongs to whom.
You’re not sure you want me to rule the world? I’m not either. Someone might go looking for something to use for “smear tactics” and find that I was a “cute young thing” and had lots of men friends before I was married. That could spell personal disaster and I’m way too old to go through that kind of stress!
Why we like it: startling proposal, funny ending
When I rule the world I will drain the light from the sky. The stars will rain upon the earth in fiery torrents and I will snuff out the sun as if it were a candle flame. I will turn your fresh air into poison. The earth will burn, the people will scream and the children will die. I will put fear and hatred into every heart. I will cripple the dancers, snatch the songs and crush them in the singers throats. I will languish in the pain and perversion and I will relish the hunger and desolation. But best of all I will steal all of the hope. I will pin it like a dying butterfly and watch in glee as it struggles and gives up its life. Instead of looking forward to what more you may receive, you will look back at all you had and lost. And I will savor that realization.
Why we like it: bold, daring; great writing and use of imagery/metaphor
Here is your complimentary T-Shirt with my face on it.
You’ll notice the various political campaigns laid out across the city. “Start Smoking in Hospitals” is one, “I’m Elvis so go F#@k Yourself” is another.
These are here to help remind you of the consequences of being Politically Correct.
If you are labelled a P.C you are put into a series of three waiting rooms. In the first waiting room you will be confronted with an Asian lady behind a desk. You won’t be able to understand what she is saying but if you ask her to repeat herself she will sedate you with a powerful drug.
Why we like it: Random, visually stimulating, confidence of author; reminds of Clockwork Orange.
More Good Ideas: (Special Mention To…)
Joni Downey – ‘back to good ol’ age’ where physical punishment was the rule and homework had to be done on paper: When I was growing up as a little girl, I don’t ever remember my teacher having to stop and discipline another student. (However, at my age, I don’t remember yesterday).
Nathan R. Prell – destroy Australia:
In order to create a perfect world, the current one must be epically altered. This can only be done with weapons of awesomely massive destruction. One country must be destroyed. (Probably Australia due to their distance from everyone else.) Then a world war would begin, causing the morale and economic collapse of every government in the world. Only after this could the new world order, my world order, initiate.
Vincent Ho – Escape from Antartica:
Vincent Ho outlines a plan to set up Antartica as a space training program, from which preservation pods would be sent out to seek life on other planets.
Brett Davisson – plans to become King Midas, and turn everything (literally) into solid gold so that it could be better appreciated: I would turn the Lincoln Memorial, the Great Pyramids of Egypt, and the Washington Monument into statues of gold. Glimmering in the light of the sun, the world would realize the true message of these structures.
Next, I would change everyone in America to republicans. Then, we would elect Sarah Palin. There would be no democrats. After that, I would equip every person in the world with the car of their choice, whether it be a corvette or ferrari. This would be a great step for the world, and I think that it would make many people happy.
Daniel Carroll – no political correctness:
So if I ruled the world, I would do away with political correctness. It hurts many more people then it ever helped. It starts out teaching our children that life is fair, and it’s ok not to strive to be better, because you’re on the team.
Margaret Montet – importance of ‘talk’ + art/culture/music, etc:
I hear people putting down Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites as the downfall of human communication. To me they are just another way to talk. I learn about concerts, museums, places to visit, writing jobs and people by reading what my tweeps and peeps have to say.
John Marsicano – no opinions, same religion, same income:
If I were to rule the world, my main focus would be on eliminating opinions of the people worldwide. Honestly, individual opinion is the reason for disagreement and the cause of war. Although opinion is one of the main aspects to individuality, more often than not it serves as the formula for chaos and usually results in a disagreement of some sort. If you think about it, opinions are only stressed when something isn’t universally clear. Therefore, if it’s not universally understood than it is not important. If society agrees on a certain issue, than it is no longer and opinion, but yet a universal concept.
Ritika Bhandari: Living in fear will not be tolerated. Perpetrators of freedom will be severely punished.
Mason Smith – no more obnoxious people:
It may be argued that ridding the world of obnoxious people will not solve any problems, and while this argument may be correct, wouldn’t it at least be fun to try it out and see what happens? In the past, groups of people were exterminated for simply being of a certain culture, race or religion. These people didn’t really do anything other than exist, yet the tyrants who had them killed took offense at their very existence. Obnoxious people, on the other hand, are annoying and will not be missed, so it’s a win-win situation even if the major problems of the modern world are not solved.Ultimately, obnoxious people are everyone’s enemy and though it may be hard to see why the world would be a better place without them, I assure everyone that it will.
Stephanie Smith, Ph.D. – children should be leashed:
There will be parents who complain about this requirement to leash their children. These are the same parents who complained about car seats, seat belts, and making children sit in the back seat. There will be rights activists who complain that it is demeaning and harms a child’s self esteem to be leashed. These are the same activists who complain that giving the child a failing grade damages his psyche. Children will complain about having to wear a leash and whine about being old enough to “be good.” Children always complain about something, so we might as well give them something worth complaining about.
My name is Shindana and it is your job, position and duty to obey me and my words. It is not up to you, it is written. You can get mad if you want to, you can even curse…but once you have you will and must realize that what I say is true.
Which ones do you like? Please leave feedback!
We can see it happening all around us: the combination of accessible, affordable, adaptable technologies that is changing the way we live and work; so fundamental to our lives that it is even shifting our understanding of what it means to be human. From ubiquitous mobile supercomputing, through artificially intelligent robots and genetically editable organisms, to neuro-technical enhancement, each of these and many other exciting technologies have moved out of the realm of science fiction and into the daily news.
Professor Klaus Schwab canvassed the World Economic Forum community on the extent and implications of what he dubbed The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Meanwhile, we asked Agenda readers What does the Fourth Industrial Revolution mean to you?
We asked that essays be 900 words or less and published on medium.com. We received more than 60 submissions, all available here. The entries provide an immensely diverse, entertaining and informative collection, providing insight into the breadth and significance of the changes that we all see around us.
In the end, the contest demonstrated one thing clearly, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a global phenomenon, affecting everyone from small scale entrepreneurs in Indonesia to Canadian software developers, from Indian business students to African thinkers.
And the implications of this new era touch on almost every aspect of our lives. One popular format was the futuristic scenario, describing the world we'll wake up in tomorrow, from a perfect morning in 2025, to a vivid techno dystopia in 2020. Others took a broader more academic approach. How will we be affected by the different ways that humans and technology can combine? What kind of leadership capabilities will be required in this new world? How can we effect a mindful revolution in human consciousness?
The short list
The challenge for the judges has been to whittle the entries down to those which addressed the question - what does the Fourth Industrial Revolution mean for you? - in the most insightful way. 900 words is not many with which to get across complex and intricate ideas, so essays which chose concrete topics and worked towards some kind of resolution caught our attention.
Here are the five shortlisted entries:
The Fourth Industrial Revolution & the refugee crisis looks at how new technologies are not only helping those hit by conflict and crisis, but also through shifting employment markets creating conflict. It uses strong images, case studies and video to put its points across, and proposes solutions:
The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the future of ports looks at how port cities need to change their thinking from that of a node on a linear chain to part of a circular network. "Circular thinking" is a prerequesite for sustainability, a key concept for ports and the cities that host them.
What does the Fourth Industrial Revolution mean for our Jobs? is written by a Candian millennial developing apps for the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT). Brett Lewis celebrates the flexibility and adaptability of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies that allows him to work from a small town on Canada's eastern coast while servicing a global market.
Why it's wrong to fear the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a thoughtful call for a shift in human consciousness. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will inevitably shift the employment market away from what we currently think of as work, while at the same time increase abundance. There are two challenges here. One of distribution - everyone should have enough. The other is mindset - why is it that we believe that only those who work have meaning?
What the Fourth Industrial Revolution will do for Africa looks at how the new combination of technologies and platforms will revolutionise the continent, from productivity, education, trade and investment, entrepreneurialism, to governance and transparency. Charisma D. Kakuru emphasises the importance of youth for Africa's future, participation and closing the gender gap.
Thank you to all who took the time to write, and to read the essays.
The winner of the Davos 2016 essay competition will receive a signed copy of Professor Klaus Schwab's book The Fourth Industrial Revolution, and will be announced on Monday January 19.
What does this change mean to you? Can you provide a concrete example of how the Fourth Industrial Revolution will play out in your community, your industry, or even in your family? What should we do to manage its risks and reap its rewards?—Essay Contest: What does the fourth industrial revolution mean to you
We propose a $100 million impact investment fund for humanitarian technology and innovation, as well as humanitarian impact bonds for the refugee crisis.—The fourth industrial revolution & the refugee crisis, Dave Levin
When adopting circular thinking, waste becomes equal to value, while depositing waste, eroding the earth’s natural resources and degrading assets become equivalent to loss.—The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the future of ports, Maurice Jansen
The success of IoT innovations and the industry as a whole will come down to one, major factor: human integration. Will we fully embrace this new technology at our disposal and use it to our advantage?—What does the Fourth Industrial Revolution mean for our jobs? Brett Lewis
Questioning restriction-based economies will reveal the true freedom that an access-based economy will bring.—Why it's wrong to fear the Fourth industrial Revolution, by Kei Pritsker
Recognition of the significant asset that young people represent, and the fact that our future is tied to our development, are essential ingredients for economic and social stability both today and tomorrow.—What the Fourth industrial Revolution will do for Africa, by Charisma D. Kukuru
Michael Hanley, Head of Digital Communications, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum Geneva
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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