That little voice inside of me has been whispering lately. “Why do you always think about enigmas and try to solve them? Why don’t you let someone else do it. Relax.” The siren’s call has been getting louder lately. Then my daughter Megan planted an IED in my serenity. She lent me a new book by Tom Friedman, “Thank You For Being Late”. Then as I settled into the old leather chair in my office I am sure she remotely detonated it from her cell phone.
I happen to like this author so I was predisposed to his message but it wasn’t one but a panoply of insights into our world today. It was technical, political, practical and ethical all rolled into one.It is an mazing book. If you assume there are three great forces at work, technology, globalization and Mother Nature, he studies each one in detail. We are in a tectonic shift as the result of these powers intersecting. We have taken this relatively predictable world and turned it upside down.
Some may choose to deny it. They pine for the good old days but the genie is out of the bottle. Even status quo is unacceptable. He starts with technology and the application of Moore’s Law. The latter states that the computing capacity as we know it will increase exponentially as its costs decrease. In addition to breakthroughs as more and more people are exposed to the science, that capability will feed upon itself causing explosive growth.
As I read through this section I had the feeling of sheer breakneck speed and although I like to cruise around 80mph, it was little unsettling. Seems I am not alone. There is new term being tossed around called dislocation. When something totally new comes along it takes us a period of time to learn it and put it to use. Today we are working and producing at such warp speed that by the time we assimilate a particular piece it has already been rendered obsolete. To wit the various iterations of iPhones. You don’t email, you tweet. Thousands of apps come to the fore daily. What’s a guy to do?
So many things have happened that we almost take them for granted. Uber was ingenious but then we got LYFT. The first iPhone came out in 2007 and now it is the laptop for many. We used to have hard drives et alia and now we have the Cloud. We don’t develop software but go to a thing called GITHUB to select from a vast array of programs. We use them, adapt them and then leave it for someone else to improve upon. And that is happening in every square inch of our world.
With this enormous flow in place we turn to the Market or world we live in. It is hard to grasp population growth. Population grows at a rate of around 1% which doesn’t sound drastic unless you realize that is 75 million people a year. A major portion of that is centered in India and the African continent. Mobile phones and computing power are coming to all ares of the globe. They not only want to learn, they want to participate. The Web has enabled all sorts to collaborate regardless of skin color or uniform or garb. Like so much today there are no ground rules and we sail on in uncharted territory.
Mother Nature is throwing all of us a curve or should I say just acting up. Whether you believe in global warming or not things are in turmoil. Friedman goes into this in pretty good detail as it relates to displaced people.Not only from war but catastrophic drought. Now we are warm and cozy in front of our fireplaces with visions of sugarplums but there are 65 million displaced people on the move this very day or night in this orb we all call home. In subsaharan Africa there is route taken by Somalis, Eritreans whatever that literally spans the Continent. After weeks and months they end up in Niger and work their way northward to the Med and hopefully freedom of what ever sort.
Add in the Middle East that only exacerbates the problem with wars in Syria and Yemen. There is desperation for all these people as it becomes not a search for a better life but life in any fashion. If they stay they will die from starvation caused by whatever force of nature you want to use. Thank You For Being late takes you from awe to depression to reality and to hope. It is an amazing journey that I know I can’t do justice through this epistle but maybe it will at least tease you to look under the hood.
A conclusion is that the last 11,000 years have been the Holocene era and now we are passing into a new one. Let’s call it an outgrowth for the Garden of Eden. We have had things very well and the jury is out as to whether we have eaten the forbidden fruit too many times. Things are going to be very different for us in so many ways. That is not to be fatalistic or depressing as much as an alarm bell that we have to open our eyes and get our minds and asses in gear.
The best takeaway I got was the absolute need for an adaptive mentality. We have to say maybe we don’t have all the answers. It means giving in and admitting we might be wrong about this or that. Not acquiescence but the ability to connect and learn from others. In technology which is going to drive this world there is no prejudice and there are no real borders. Open to new ideas and a new way of thinking on everything from government to education to our definition of a good life.It’s is totally different model. Let’s at least take a test drive. We might wind up buying it.
Ted The Great
People in desperate situations have children. It sounds crazy but it is the one thing that can make them feel worthwhile. A father is able to procreate and a woman can suckle. Scary.
An AT&T experiment brings new ideas to solving problems. When new people are needed for a project they make every effort to hire from within. If an employee is lacking a certain skill they have on line courses in conjunction with Georgia Tech to bridge the knowledge gap. This may lessen the need for four year degrees.
In the Mideast we have seen people obtain freedom “from” but we haven’t given the freedom “ to.” In Iraq we conquered Hussein but did not have an adequate blueprint for people to take it from there.
Friedman makes a curious statement that people have taken to “collecting their wounds.” They seek pity long after the fact and use their ills as crutches and excuses not to move forward. This prevents any forward progress. Not just a few but becoming a method of living for many. Interesting.