Dr James Martin -- The Meaning of the 21st Century

ATCA Briefings

London, UK - 15 May 2007, 06:40 GMT - We are grateful to the world renowned philanthropist, pioneering information technologist and distinguished ATCA member, Dr James Martin, for his welcome submission in response to the think-piece, The Hamburg Call to Action -- World Future Council Appeals to G8: Listen to the Voice of Future Generations submitted by Jakob von Uexkull.

Response: Dr James Martin -- The Meaning of the 21st Century

With the largest ever alumni philanthropic donation ever made to a UK university, Dr Martin gave USD 100 million in 2005 to help establish The James Martin 21st Century School at the University of Oxford; its stated goal is to "formulate new concepts, policies and technologies that will make the future a better place to be." His book The Meaning of the 21st Century: A Vital Blueprint for Ensuring our Future was published in 2006.

Dr James Martin is a consultant and author, has been called the "guru of the information age," and was nominated for a Pulitzer prize for his book, The Wired Society: A Challenge for Tomorrow. A former Student of Keble College, University of Oxford, he has written over a hundred books many of which have been best sellers in the information technology industry. He has written extensively on his computer systems design methodology, information engineering and also on computer-aided software engineering, of which some say he is the father. He was an early promoter of fourth-generation programming languages. He was also the primary author of the Rapid Application Development methodology.

With Dixon Doll, Martin established the information technology consultancy firm DMW (Doll Martin Worldwide) in 1981. This was later renamed James Martin Associates (JMA), and its clients have included the United States and United Kingdom governments. In the late 1980s, JMA was divided into two halves: one half was sold to Texas Instruments Software in 1991, while the other part remains independent and is now known as Headstrong. Dr Martin also co-founded software company KnowledgeWare with Fran Tarkenton. Dr Martin also founded Data Base Design (DDI) Inc, which competed with KnowledgeWare in areas such as data base design tools. He writes:

Dear DK and Colleagues

Congratulations to the ATCA on your swift response to "The Hamburg Call to Action -- World Future Council Appeals to G8: Listen to the Voice of Future Generations" submitted by Jakob von Uexkull.

A 2-hour film, made by myself, addresses this subject in detail. It is called "The Meaning of the 21st Century" and is based on my book "The Meaning of the 21st Century: A Vital Blueprint for Ensuring our Future" published by TransWorld in England. The film is in the last stages of post-edit, and it will be available in June. What follows is a description of it. It has been described as "light years ahead of Al Gore's most influential film." Some of the most brilliant people on the planet are in the film, all of whom participated in long depth interviews.

I established the James Martin 21st Century School at the University of Oxford. This School has 10 Institutes. Its Mission is to identify the most serious problems on the planet and find solutions to them. It also identifies the largest new opportunities. The School is growing rapidly and fits the subjects discussed by the ATCA remarkably. The Director of the School is Ian Goldin who was senior vice president at the World Bank.

The opening words of The Hamburg Call to Action, resonate strongly with the book and film, "Today we truly stand at the crossroads of human history. Our actions - and our failure to act - will decide the future of life on earth for thousands of years, if not forever."

I look forward to further dialogue via the ATCA.


James Martin


This is a very critical century - unique in all history. We are faced with a massive challenge. Can we make the planet workable for the growing population and its increasing demands? If so, extraordinary technology can give us a magnificent future. If not, we could be in a new Dark Age.

In the decades ahead, humanity will face nightmare problems, and immense opportunities. One problem that is now well known is global warming and climate change. Some of the other problems are more dangerous.

The good news is that there are solutions.

Innovative thinking, cooperation around the world and exciting technologies are providing answers, and a bleak future can be turned into one of unimaginable opportunity and progress. As we learn to understand this century and play its complex game, we can chart extraordinary futures.

Today's young people must be given the confidence and vision to transform lifestyles, the environment and Homo sapiens itself.

It's a make-or-break century. To create civilizations more magnificent than anything yet conceived is achievable, but widespread education is needed to make it happen. Technology can wreck our world, or enable us create the greatest era of human history.

Our kids need charts of the worldscape ahead. They, collectively, will be responsible for the great transition we describe - the most urgent subject of their time, the subject of THE MEANING OF THE 21st CENTURY.

Read the previous article here: WFC to G8: Listen to Voice of Future Generations


We look forward to your further thoughts, observations and views. Thank you.

Best wishes

For and on behalf of DK Matai, Chairman, Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance (ATCA)

ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance is a philanthropic expert initiative founded in 2001 to resolve complex global challenges through collective Socratic dialogue and joint executive action to build a wisdom based global economy. Adhering to the doctrine of non-violence, ATCA addresses asymmetric threats and social opportunities arising from climate chaos and the environment; radical poverty and microfinance; geo-politics and energy; organised crime & extremism; advanced technologies -- bio, info, nano, robo & AI; demographic skews and resource shortages; pandemics; financial systems and systemic risk; as well as transhumanism and ethics. Present membership of ATCA is by invitation only and has over 5,000 distinguished members from over 100 countries: including several from the House of Lords, House of Commons, EU Parliament, US Congress & Senate, G10's Senior Government officials and over 1,500 CEOs from financial institutions, scientific corporates and voluntary organisations as well as over 750 Professors from academic centres of excellence worldwide.

The views presented by individual contributors are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral. Please do not forward or use the material circulated without permission and full attribution.

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