Life with purpose
The Edit: The Art of Progress
The Edit

The Edit: The Art of Progress

What machine learning means for science, how the number of women in board-roles is increasing and more in this week’s #TheEdit.
14th Jan 2022

“The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order,” said mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead

Whitehead, born in 1861, wrote about mathematics and physics early in his career, but his most defining work was his philosophy on processes. He argued that rather than reality consisting of bits of matter existing independently of each other, reality was instead a mosaic of interrelated processes. 

Looking ahead at the year before us, Whitehead’s philosophy is poignant. We do not exist in isolation to others, or to other things, or to our planet. The theory of processes is a cry for collaboration, responsibility and empathy as we continue to drive forwards towards a new – and hopefully better – world. 

And as we attempt to perfect the art of progress in our interconnected world, it’s helpful to keep Whitehead’s understanding of reality in mind: “There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have consequences for the world around us.”

Here’s what you might have missed this week:

  • Does machine learning and AI signify a transition to post-theory science? – The Guardian 
  • Authentic sustainability: Rick Ridgeway, adventurer and former eco-boss at Patagonia, weighs in on what businesses owe the planet – Raconteur 
  • What does it really mean to embrace stakeholder capitalism? – McKinsey Podcast 
  • Terry Smith criticises Unilever’s purpose-first business strategy – The Financial Times  
  • Rewriting the system: can companies force themselves to do good? – The New Yorker 
  • The majority of non-executive director board roles are now held by women, but there’s still a long way to go – Business Chief
  • Net zero commitments: have companies been living up to their promises? – The New York Times
  • Living buildings: British designer Thomas Heatherwick has created a shopping centre covered in 1,000 trees and 250,000 plants in Shanghai – Dezeen

“Failure is success in progress.”

Albert Einstein