The times ahead will surprise us

Imagine my surprise! I found this little essay of mine that I wrote in a rush, but with great pleasure, published with errors and all! The original draft is the version just hot off the labours of my fingertips… and without the capable labour of editors. I am reposting and correcting some of the more obvious errors that I often introduce through a combination of speed, quick thoughts, change of mind, sentence reformulation, new word, and not much dedication to perfection.

Dannie Jost: The times ahead will surprise us | Third Wave GmbH: “I should have been an astronomer, I like to think in terms of light years and orders of magnitude. In 3-5 years not much happens, just fluctuations. Still, punditry is something that everyone ought to engage with at least once in a lifetime. It was about time that I give it a try.

What are the most interesting big trends and drivers that will shape the next 3-5 years, how might they manifest, and what are the main implications?

For the next 3-5 year the big trends and drivers that will shape our existence will be the shrinking of the economy, the development of a new understanding of what sustainability is, the discovery that governance systems are failing, and the increased frequency of extreme weather events. The main implications will be a tendency to concentrate on those values, attitudes, and resources that make a difference in the quality of one’s life. There will be a mixture of the intensity of loneliness, and an increase in the value of ‘clan values’.

This does not mean that there will be no conflicts. It may even be that the conflicts between social classes – the haves and have nots – will intensify within and across national sovereignty borders. I have a bad feeling that democracy and liberalism are eroding and that human rights and obligations are good candidates for a collaborative reengineering project. I know that capitalism is broken, but thank Charles Schwab for voicing it out loud.

Imagine that the world’s governments instead of restructuring their administrations, reducing costs, getting a grip on corruption, concentrating on improving the social cohesion and infrastructure, instead of all of that, put the squeeze on the taxpayers that are already over taxed (aka as ‘the poor’) and leave the few wealthy living in overabundance and tax free. Somehow that is not a recipe for peace. Strangely enough this is the trend as we watch the world deal the so-called financial and euro crisis. I do not like the developments one bit.

The question that remains for me is whether I will remain a complaining observer, and if there will be any action that I will take to interfere with these developments.

How could the world be made more desirable over the next 3-5 years? In other words, which problems would you like your peers to tackle over the next few years, or which parameters to change?

I would like to see my peers tackle financial regulation, social equity, and produce technology that liberates instead of technology that enslaves. A lot of technology today enslaves, it does not liberate. Come to think of it, the same can be said of regulations and laws that are there to guarantee our freedoms but that over time have been highjacked in the service of few and alienate the masses. The results are not pretty. I exaggerate. Still, sometimes it looks like one large group gets the obligations, and a small minority get the rights. That is not the idea. I do not like that bit either.

Which parameters should change is not the question I would ask, it implies a deterministic approach to a deterministic world. I would invite exploration and I would include discipline in the exploration. The exploration will aid in finding the emerging temporary parameters that can be used to shape the world and create the society that we want. Techno-determinism is not the way to go. Determinism is just not the way that the Universe is built, the Universe is evolving and we are interacting with it albeit on a small scale in the grand scale of things, and in a big way in the small scope of our planet.

All our information generating capabilities only reveal the limits of our knowledge and the confines of our cognitive abilities. We are not doomed, but the roller coaster ride of evolution has barely began.

I would like to see some of my own ideas gain traction, but the ink is not even dry on some of those plans. Still, the plans are quite concrete. I am playing and exploring the ideas of monopolies and competition and their relationship to innovation and public goods. For example, the pharmaceutical industry operates with a business model derived from hard core capitalism and that model is fairly kaputt.

Thanks for the questions. These are good questions. The more I try to answer them, the more evident it is to me that I do not have a clue. The times ahead will surprise us. I will continue to search for the perfect hot chocolate mix. Hopes I have for a smart phone that is a wifi fox and has no more than ten apps. For dishes and laundry, I will rely on house help and electric appliances.”

(Via the Third Wave blog.)


I wrote a short little essay in response to Igor Schwarzmann‘s query to jot down a few thoughts for what sounded like an interesting experiment in publishing. The theme was ‘Uncomfortable Times.’ Experimental as the project was, and busy as we all are, the thoughts and actions moved elsewhere, however Igor asked if he could publish it on their blog, which obviously I agreed to. This little essay is however very pregnant; there are many sketches of an idea in it that I would like to develop further. Right now I just do not know how much time I will have to dedicate to this, and how well it fits my other plans and projects. Since I use this blog as part of an array of note taking tools, I am reblogging it from the Third Wave Blog.

Boredom | Third Wave GmbH: “Tools emerge, and solutions are discovered later. Problems are our prayers. Deeply baffled by human nature and its ability to muddle human affairs, I turn to the only truth that I know. Words. Just words. Beyond truth, I know reality. Reality is that part of truth that does not need belief. I can not believe the words, they just stand there and represent an experience, or a passing thought, and the never ending quest to make sense of it all. Words beg for interpretation.

The many ideologies invented in the past century – capitalism, communism and nationalism to name the biggest offenders – differ very little. This triumvirate wrecks havoc in human affairs every day. Uncomfortable times is the natural state of human affairs. When have the times not been uncomfortable? If one is to consider that last sentence in full, the only relief that there is, is that times is a passing thing. I can not cope with the discipline of history. One day, I asked a distinguished colleague and scholar in that discipline what it was that men had learned from history? I had the feeling that he had not taken my question seriously. He did not respond, he smiled, he did not dare laugh. I was truly interested in what a scholar of history would tell a scholar of science and technology. I did not get an answer. I may never get an answer. Is there an answer?

But what have we learned from science and technology? These are dark days for humanity, we are right back in the darkness of the middle ages where our ignorance is only exceeded by our arrogance and brutality. Ours! We, we are the humans. Are we a race? Are we a species? Are we von Neumann automatons? What on earth are we?

Failing any good answers forthcoming from history, despairing that religious dogma and Grimm’s tales provide comparable satisfaction, I advance the lubricous proposition that humans are animals. Lubricous is ludicrous. I am not dyslexic. Such is the condition of the animal roaming the planet, burning fossil fuels, incapable of understanding nuclear fusion, and then going on a witch-hunt for knowledge. Is knowledge going to fix anything at all when men’s irrationality still drives us to actions that destroy the very substrate that sustains all life? Between money and sex, what other interests are there?

The witch-hunt for knowledge includes burning those who are shy of numbers, fuzzy in their thinking and uncompromising in ideals. Those are the naive who believe that humans can act rationally. Humans can collectively act rationally, but we have not yet reached that desired state of civilization. I love those strange creatures who are born far from perfect, write a few words on paper, and go to battle and find a few more like minded who are willing to do battle with them. Some just write and leave the battle to others. Democratic constitutions and declarations of human rights are the creation of such fools who write words. Tools emerged: democratic constitutions and declarations of human rights.

Men do not deserve the governments that they get. French, Swiss, Libyans, Japanese, Germans, Australians, nobody deserves government. Governments, elected or not, are a matter of luck. Government is not a necessary evil either, it is the result of existence. It emerges where humans live. Some governments are better than others. No single ideology of government is ‘the right one.’ We do live in a manifold of problems. These problems are our prayers. Without them we would be bored out of our wits. We have all the problems that we have ever prayed for. We live in abundance of problems and we live in scarcity of spirit. We are animals fighting for survival. We are killing ourselves ever so slowly, ever so surely, and all ever so out of boredom! At the end, whenever that will be, we will not be just dust, but information. As the universe passes through another big bang, it will forget that we have existed. Will we remember?”

(Via Third Wave Blog)