Google+

BBC Future

Future Thinking

Is world peace possible?

We have witnessed fewer and fewer wars between countries since 1945, and so there is no reason to doubt that they could disappear like other horrifying acts.

Psychologist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker at Harvard University thinks it is completely conceivable that wars between countries might go the way of slave auctions, debtors’ prisons and other barbaric customs.

He argues that while there is plenty of violence around the world, and more ways of killing each other, we have witnessed fewer and fewer wars between countries since 1945. Not only, is war is at an all-time low, rates of homicide are far lower than they were in the Middle Ages, and issues like domestic violence are no longer seen as being acceptable.

At the recent Singularity Summit in San Francisco, he told BBC Future about how  we are predisposed to be violent but how we are also predisposed to be peaceful.

There are some parts to the brain that impel us to carry out violence, such as the thirst for revenge, feelings of tribalism, or the quest for dominance. But packed into the same skull there are motives that inhibit us from violence, like empathy and reason that allow us to see violence as a problem to be solved instead of a contest to be won.

If you would like to comment on this video or anything else you have seen on Future, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.