We’re headed for a future (not so distant) when there would be no “authentic” version of History, just different versions, depending on our individual beliefs, preferences and biases. Just like our FB page and Insta feed, each of us will have our own, customised History (and I don’t mean browsing history here). We already have a fancy term (Post-truth) for a world where objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than arguments that appeal to emotion and personal belief.
Telling the authentic from the fake will become increasingly difficult (it is already quite hard for a lot of people including those credited with generous amounts of grey matter). With digital technology becoming sophisticated—deepfakes are just an example—the line between fact and fiction will blur significantly, if not vanish completely. Vested interests would use make-believe extensively and unabashedly to sway public opinion in their favour.
In this scenario, what kind of skills should we equip our children with? Should the accent be on learning from “historical” events, or the ability to solve problems taking all aspects into account with a sense of fairness, focusing on the current? Should we equip them to recognize their biases and rely on data (but not data that has been manipulated to suit a certain point of view)?
Adages like “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” were said at a time when the “past” largely consisted of events that most people agreed had taken place. Is the adage relevant anymore? History will “repeat” more frequently because every reality will have a version in the past (real, partially real, completely fake or a fake version created ex post-facto).
History will soon be history!