Sorry, I lied. There are no seven ways and simple arithmetic doesn’t help. There is no number that could list both pending disasters or possible positives in 2018. Listicles suggest a finite number of manageable steps to achieve some desired goal. They work so well, as there presence in Medium reveals, that they are used regularly to attract readers to the great disgust of many. They lure people with the possibility of control. They offer the illusion of understanding. If you can count it, you can understand it in fifteen easy steps. We can’t even count what is happening now.
That’s not going to happen. Simple arithmetic progressions have been failing and will fail from now on for things that apply to nations, large metropolitan areas, and the planet. The US of A is a good example. The great election disaster of 2016 led to the rapid loss of American power in 2017 by triggering a, nearly, incomprehensible range of impossible events. You can group these under categories: the creation of a very strong threat of nuclear conflagration over a small, poor, hermit state, collapse of the political system with a pedophile demanding to be given a seat in the US senate, a rapist bragging about his conquests from the White House, a minority party espousing extreme radicalism with actions opposed by more than 70% of the population, the enactment of a secret tax change budget that ten years ago would not have made it even into proposal form, the growing movement for federal breakup with California the leader of a new nation? Region? Alliance? And the growing realization that none of the above, possibly barring nuclear conflagration, really matters to most people.
Donald Trump is a joke, the Republican Party is a joke, the Democratic Party is a joke, the ever higher values on Wall Street are a joke, in fact most of the things that were critical to the leading nation on the planet five years ago are now a joke. The political concepts that were fundamental to all of the 20th century are not even jokes. They’re gone and no one has even noticed. What?
Changes now are geometric not arithmetic. How many times have you heard this? Do you understand it yet? Do you know how to act on that type of change? I am willing to bet that when action is required you will act on an automatic arithmetic projection or base your decisions on a working average, another form of the old human arithmetic counting trick. One good example? How many hundred million dollar construction projects are in process for urban coastal areas? Near certain climate and oceanographic projections, anything over 90% agreement is a scientific certainty, show the flood zones that will be under water in thirty to fifty years. And before someone fires up their keyboard to say that nothing is certain, that is true in this universe but things are just as likely to be much worse as much better. Most likely they will be close to the median, scientific projection. Is this blindness due to stupidity? Yes and no. Nothing is simple anymore for the varied reasons I’m discussing here. No, because our species is designed to think arithmetically in base ten due to our appendages. We do not think in non-linear fashion nor statistically. The closest we can get is a simple average or, maybe a mean by eyeballing the halfway point on something we can see. But, yes, it is stupidity because we know how to work with statistics and complex, non-linear situations but that takes considerable work. As a result we need to rely on people who know how to do this and then pay attention to what they say. Doing anything else is stupid.
This is well known among people who spend time actually studying these complex, nonlinear things and they are presented in, at least simplified, understandable forms. Many places around the world are paying close attention, in some cases because they are at high risk already and already dealing with the reality just as we are with unusual storms, weather, rising sea levels, drought, and refugees. Other places are too big, note that, and insist that they can deny reality. Most of the people in charge there actually know they cannot deny reality but they know they can force enough of their population to believe them that it doesn’t matter. And then when those folks finally figure it out those in charge will have left for high ground funded by their plunder. Is that simple enough to understand? We need to start identifying these people as criminals. They are stealing the future of our children, grandchildren and ruining your retirement unless your old enough and luck enough to be dead before things get really bad.
But wait, things are getting better. Wages are finally creeping up and those enraged working folks who were instrumental in buying ignorant bullshit out of frustration are getting hours and overtime, right. Do they know why? The planetary economy is starting to work because of strong movements to plan for non-arithmetic change, climate disaster, growing migratory pressures, and better wealth distribution. The money is coming from outside the country. We still have world leading industrial and technical industries. We are being pulled along by the rest of the planet.
The problem is that if you are being pulled along and otherwise making stupid mistakes, at some point you are no longer an asset but a burden. Machine Learning automation and increased production with reduced human labor, does that connect to this? Give it this year, 2018, to see how these non-linear and geometric things we are ignoring expand that rate of change. One of the areas that will begin to seriously screw people up is the problem of size. Big countries always had the advantage if they could get themselves organized. But non-linear change has no real precedents historically. It’s becoming obvious already that size is a problem. Big areas and big populations need to change quickly and that is not easy. It’s a real problem if you are both big and stupid. Smaller units of administration that have the authority to act quickly and break old rules are already starting to pull away. The question is what will happen to the biggest states that consider themselves the natural leaders of the planet? The US is already going down quickly, Russia is a mess, India is predominantly young and gaining in wealth. China is the new world leader in terms of size, population, wealth, and technology. But that efficiency is the result of fairly hard authoritarianism. Is it too hard to see that flexibility and change in a large state is a direct trade off for authoritarianism? For comparison look at Germany, France, and California. I think we will begin to see this clearly and that there are a limited number of options as change becomes critical to survival as something other than as a source of refugees.
If you have read to this point then I want you to know that I am not peddling doom for the new year. I’m very optimistic. Last year was the year of OMG confusion. The benefit, in a way, of making a really big mistake and collapsing early. Things will become clearer and the options will begin to shrink so that we will be forced to act in ways we couldn’t imagine last year. and that will be good, painful, but good. We need to do everything we can to help those who are being brutalized by stupidity and think very hard about the kind of society we want. What worked before does not work now and failure to change quickly will eliminate options that we always thought we would have. Stupidity is not a characteristic for survival but you could get away with it. I think that 2018 will begin to make that clear.