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Eureka: Can we be optimistic?
by Jay Gutman
2016-12-12 08:43:44
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There’s no way of predicting the future. But the present can have a few clues as to where we’re headed. So I’ll lay down the framework of where we’re possibly headed in five key areas, that is in the military, in the environment, in politics, in society and in the economy.

In the military

Most military organizations have had to fight on two fronts: state actors and non-state actors, that is armed organizations that are outside the government (but sometimes work with governments) but that threaten violent conflict either in the forms of revenge or in attempts to control governments.

optim01_400The good news is while civilian research has not been stellar (a lot of it was a waste of ink really) military research was carried out underground and has had findings that can limit considerably the possibility or armed conflict. Drones, sensor detectors and movement detectors have enable the military to compile information along with the interception of communications which give good clues as to when attacks can happen and how to prevent those attacks.

The global agenda is one where an increasing number of countries and organizations have been asked to provide clear and consistent agendas and those agendas are being monitored. In the old days you could get away with not providing a clear agenda, citing linguistic or cultural differences, but those are now viewed as merely being lame excuses.

I’m not saying that armed conflict will disappear, I’m just saying that clear agendas coupled with monitoring of agendas and high intelligence capabilities means that in the future any attempt to start a violent conflict can be intercepted and is usually dealt with before the conflict escalates deeply. Those countries and organizations that did not have clear agendas were gradually dealt with over the last 10 years, sometimes resulting in violent conflicts but leading such organizations to often implode from within.

In the environment

The next thing we share is the air we breathe, the water and rivers we share and the land we cultivate and its products. Tensions often arise when one country starts polluting and that pollution starts affecting another country.

The last two or three years have seen several meetings on the environment to come up with clear agendas on how to reduce pollution and share a clean environment. Measures to monitor the environment were laid out as well.

The revolution regarding the environment perhaps lies in technology. Cleaner, more energy-efficient machines, 3D printing, recycling, water preservation technology and water treatment technologies have enabled the agenda to be laid out more clearly and to facilitate the monitoring of environmental preservation. Military technology also enables the interception of environmental terrorism threats and reduces the risks of environmental catastrophes.

Agriculture is also seeing the beginning of a revolution that can lead to surplus production or to enough production to feed the global population.

In politics

Some have been talking about “the end of politics” or “the end of power” and have been arguing that power has increasingly been moving from state actors to non-state actors. There is some truth to that, although governments still have a significant amount of power to legislate and make sure such legislation is applied.

The changing dynamic in politics is globalization. I know that in many countries the foreign-born populations still amount to a tiny percentage of the local population and that foreign investments still don’t amount to a large percentage of total investments, the general consensus is that when countries and governments legislate, they now have to take into account domestic as well as foreign-born populations, calling from a more clear, predictable legal system. In sum, countries that walk in the legal dark are countries that could be doomed to failure.

The idea is not to make rules and a legal framework that will enable international business to automatically succeed, but to make rules that give international business a clear shot at succeeding.

In society

We have gone from a society that mostly interacts offline to a society that mostly interacts online. This have several implications, including that clear communication skills should be the asset of the future, that speaking English as well as a few other languages should be a valued skill and that the buzzword “interpersonal skills” which many claim they have (but many don’t have) apply to the online as well as the offline world. All this means marketable skills include being pleasant online as well as offline.

The trend for society in the last few years has been less work and more leisure, with sometimes blurry lines between work and leisure. This contrasts with the baby boomers who had a clear distinction between work and leisure, where work was supposed to be tough and boring and leisure was supposed to be not too boring. This has a simple implication: when marketing products to older people, especially baby boomers, you need to leave the fun aspects out and you need serious people to deal with such clients. When working with millennials and marketing products to them, you want fun to be part of the equation.

The main question on society is how open is society, or is privacy even a word in the 21st century. Those who will succeed will be those who will know how to balance online and offline activities in the 21st century.

In the economy

Solar energy, 3D printing, water preservation and agricultural revolutions and so on. This probably means that land will still be an important asset and home ownership can still a difficult dream to achieve in many parts of the world. The men don’t mind but the women do.

After land ownership the next important asset will be income, and I still haven’t heard about conferences where protecting land ownership and general income has been discussed. Another important change is that communities are moving around and no one is sure if business is being done online or offline, and no one is sure if machines are working or if people are working. One trend I’ve noticed is job advertisements no longer specifying wages and an increasing number of job advertisement calling for “volunteers” or even charging “tuition” for “internships.” Now if that’s a joke, I hope it doesn’t last too long.

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Emanuel Paparella2016-12-12 12:47:46

The above view has a slightly different take on where we may be headed for. Scientific Deterministic Positivism is always optimistic because it believes that progress is inevitable and unstoppable. What is lost sight of in the process is that such a view obviates human freedom and the possibility of things changing for the worse. When that is not perceived any longer, the game is pretty much over.

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