Rooms Full of Elephants

Elephants lurk inside all our logical conversations about what to do next.  The roof is leaking, windows are broken, a room has collapsed but we ignore that and try to settle on the color we will paint the walls.  From an outside perspective, most of that talk is irrelevant.

Climate change is treated as if it were a simple addiction or behavior, like alcoholism or obesity.  “Oh, we will just stop drinking/eating/using fossil fuel.”  It is past that point, more like cancer, and cannot be cured so easily, if at all.  Severe storms, drowned coastlines, mass famine, wars over resources, and other calamities unforeseen will test our will as severely as plague outbreaks in Europe in the middle ages.

Medical care in America resembles ancient (50 years ago) retail merchandising.  Probably some innovative massive disrupter, such as Amazon, will rework the whole corrupt and rotten system almost unsuspected.  Technology is awesomely advancing, ridiculous bureaucratic inefficiencies clog the system _ this is low hanging fruit waiting to be plucked.

The myth of work as meaning is vaporizing quickly.  The wealthy pursue avocations that they consider work, everyone else struggles with uncertain income and time demands that increasingly suck away all 24 hours of life.  Automation and artificial intelligence are making most industrial patterns of the last few centuries completely useless.

The political, enlightenment, and capitalist ideals of Western Europe are tarnished and being replaced by the actuality of Chinese-style corporate capitalism and universal surveillance.  Many people will gladly trade dangerous “freedom” for security.  Already this creeps into America,  the rest of the world no longer looks to the US as a role model, especially given our politics verging on imperial despotism and our frequent mass murders.

International elites are on the cusp of remaking themselves into genetic and cyborg-enhanced superhumans.  The old adage that “the rich are not like you and me” is becoming all too true.  Beyond the human challenge lies the possibility of new species, or even replacement by machine.

Human biology is basically tribal, even if most humans easily belong to more than one tribe at a time (workplace as well as home neighborhood, for example.)  To some extent, the story of civilization has included trying to define larger and larger tribes _ regions, nations, religions/philosophies _ as important.  What new communications and other capabilities mean to society as a whole is inconceivable.

There are other probably major disruptions that you and I can think of, and even more that we cannot.  Pretending that things will continue as usual with a few adjustments here and there is inconsequential folly.

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