We are living in an age of increasing change and disruption, both positive and negative. But the characteristic that is most important of the age we live in is not just of increasing change but of accelerating change.
The pace of change is accelerating and 2020 is just one year, but it was characteristic of the nature of the disruption people are facing in the world today. We are facing all sorts of disruption from geopolitical, technological, economic, social to climate. Unfortunately, the pace of this disruption is going to only increase substantially each passing day, week, month and year.
Humans are hardwired to think about the world from a local and linear perspective. However, the world we live in is not local and linear. The world we live in is global and exponential. It always has been, but we never really cared or took notice of the more existential questions facing us. In 2020, we are forced to grapple with a multitude of issues now facing us. These issues are highly complex, interconnected and multidisciplinary in scale and scope. But why is our world going through such upheaval and how will we survive as a species going forward when things look so terrible in 2020?
I think one of the biggest things to understand is that digital technologies are playing a substantial role in our lives and in the world at large. Increasing digital transformation and globalization are changing and resizing our economy at an increasing pace. The ability to communicate the way we do today is a magnificent technological marvel that we still don’t comprehend the implications of.
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I believe the Internet was the most disruptive technology created in human history, because of the way it connected us. However, it has also divided us more than ever at the same time. The growth in information technologies from desktop to mobile computing, cloud computing, social media, the proliferation of media, social networks and big data, and the increasing use of artificial intelligence and algorithms are creating a world of greater disruption, change and velocity.
Although this change has brought about a lot of good, it has undeniably brought about a lot of bad also. It brought about increasing abundance in online learning, online news, online communication, remote working and has transformed industry after industry making our lives far more convenient. However, on the other end increasing automation and convenience has also brought out more income inequality, more social, political and economic divides and has worsened the mental health of many people.
Humans are not used to dealing with the level of cognitive load we deal with today. We are dealing with a quantum and velocity of news, media, opinions and online people that is unprecedented in the history of humanity. Especially in 2020, it can seem like our civil discourse is breaking down, our institutions are on the brink of collapse and we are one more disaster away from being wiped out. However, the internet moves at warp speed and the digital world is transforming at an accelerated pace. In the physical or real world it is not quite like that (yet), but might be with the increasing convergence between the physical and the digital worlds.
Unfortunately, because we are already too invested, dependent and frankly addicted to these technology platforms, companies, apps, devices, networks, etc, our best options are to find ways to have more harmony with the technologies available to us for our benefit and not to our detriment.
I believe we use these technologies mindfully to benefit ourselves and to benefit others and there is a lot great material, content, people and even resources on the internet. I believe that is the only way we will be able to achieve greater abundance and we will be able to grow economically, while mitigating many of the social, political, economic, and climate downsides. For instance, if we consume better news, better media, better online resources, we will feel more empowered, more in control and then help others through that same change in mindset and knowledge. We will be able to vote for better politicians also, have better civil discourse, find more truth also and be able to filter out the signal from the noise. Then we can also start or work for better companies which are more socially responsible and mission driven. Since we will be more knowledgeable, we will be able to increase human health and wealth at a much faster pace and we will be able to achieve more harmony within our institutions, economies, societies and planet. I believe that the problem is that more and more people are losing a collective purpose or mission. Without a collective purpose or mission, we are not going anywhere truly meaningful. And we get the types of dysfunction and breakdown from every level of society that we see today from our institutions, to our economies, to our politics, to our social and civil discourse and our climate. If that type of behavior continues and people lose meaning, mission or purpose, than those problems will only worsen from mental health, to crime, to economic poverty, rampant inequality and corruption, increasing polarization and tribalization, to decaying institutions, governments, corporations and civil liberties.
Things are far from perfect today, and things will never be perfect, but we need to strive to create a far more better society than we have today. Because our collective problems stem from an individual level. And if individuals do not take responsibility for improving the state of the world, then we truly are doomed. However if individuals decide to take individual responsibility for improving the collective state of the world, then we have a change of better diagnosing our problems, and working towards solving them.