2023 will challenge our existence as a species.
We’re living in unprecedented times. The catastrophic and existential risks for humanity are serious and multifaceted and determine whether we shall have a future. But we are a resilient species!
If Covid has taught us anything, it is the lesson that black swan events are frequent and inevitable. It has also taught us lessons in interconnectedness and how the ecosystem can spread invisible mutants at a vicious pace and can bring the world to a halt. It has also taught us that when humans are muted in nature, even for a short while, there is a noticeable reduction in carbon pollution, flourished floral and fauna, and return of the birds and butterflies.
If war and geo-political implications have taught us anything, we now know the repercussions of standing by the sidelines when Russia occupied Crimea in 2014. Of delayed understanding of how Russia's aggression was a multifactorial trigger internally. And the trigger was due to the perception of the threat of Ukraine becoming the second petro-state in Europe. Of the natural gas pipeline controversies. Of the loss of strategic defense due to the geographical characteristics of the north European Plain. Of the NATO vs. CSTO and the imminent imbalance of power and control. Realizing how climate change is far more punishing for Russia. And, of the declining fertility rate of Russia and COVID.
Suppose we learned anything about bad nation-state decisions and monetary policies led by age-old fiscal machines not built for new-age economies. And undermining the implications of trade wars with China would lead to major supply-chain bottlenecks. Shutting down a country for a prolonged period can lead to goods inflation and not necessarily service inflation. That Capitol Hill approving the largest stash of quantitative easing would devalue currency for decades. And the Feds trying to fix the goods inflation through a mind-numbing broad-brush strategy to curtail inflation through an old rustic machinery of interest rate hikes will create more downward spirals.
If we learned anything about growth strategies employed by organizations are not anti-fragile or economy-proof. That mindless hoarding of intellectual capacity as a blocker strategy by the big tech significantly slowed the secular innovation curves. Splurging beyond unit-cost economics to wine-and-dine high performers would drive them to complacency. Growth at all costs without profitability will lead to a flight of investments in all sectors. And eventually, downsizing and layoffs will create further economic heartburn in municipal and district treasuries.
Suppose we learned anything about the greed of people hoarding meme coins and zero-asset liabilities in the garb of high-yield tokens with snake oil shine. That, crypto and centralization are tomfooleries at best and catastrophic at worst. Eliminating nearly $450 billion market cap through eyes-wide-open fraud by charlatans who were in bed with the SEC and Feds. Not understanding that decentralization and asset-backed economies are the true path and require significant UX investments to onboard normies.
Supposedly we learned that suppressing women in societies will lead to the rightful demise of regimes. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right and should have a moral and ethical framework. Manipulating such rights can instigate and incite mobs to attack democracy. That, building a town square which can appease all sides of society is a dynamic and complex moderation problem.
The Emergent Risks
The risks emerging now are varied, global, and complex. Each poses a significant risk to human civilization, a catastrophic risk, or could extinguish the human species and is, therefore, an existential risk.
Not prioritized over one another, these risks are:
- The decline of natural resources, particularly water.
- The collapse of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity.
- Human population growth beyond Earth’s carrying capacity.
- Global warming and human-induced climate change.
- Chemical pollution of the Earth's system, including the atmosphere and oceans.
- Rising food insecurity and failing nutritional quality.
- Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
- Pandemics of new and untreatable diseases.
- The advent of powerful, uncontrolled new technology.
- National and global failure to understand and act preventatively on these risks.
These risks are interconnected. They originate from the same basic causes and must be solved in ways that make no individual threat worse. This means many existing systems we take for granted, including our economic, food, energy, production and waste, community life, and governance systems — along with our relationship with the Earth’s natural systems — must undergo searching examination and reform.
Call for a Radical Change
Understanding science, evidence, and analysis will be critical to adequately addressing the threats and finding solutions. An evidence-based approach to policy has been needed for many years. Underappreciating science and evidence leads to unmitigated risks, as we have seen with climate change.
This starts from the groundswell movement by changing the education system to be cognizant of these threats. Imagination, creativity, and new narratives will be needed for challenges that test our civil society and humanity.
We need intellects in all fields to re-think their career paths, away from media-dollar-infused big tech platforms and towards a new dimension of possibilities in the field of Life Sciences, Physics, Climate, Ethics, Policymaking, Spirituality, and Education.
We need young blood now more than ever taking positions in the Senate and the House. The old must stand corrected by the new through reverse mentoring. That a polarized “Nolan” positioning of Libertarian vs. Authoritative and Liberal vs. Conservative is not good enough anymore. That there is a dynamic middle ground that is not centrist either.
We need to reframe the narrative in civil conversations to be evidence-based narratives and significantly change the incentives for governors and policymakers to measure the impact of such policies to be inclusive of the holistic betterment of these existential threats.
Plurality and diversity of thoughts encompassing cognitivism, ecological repair, and spiritual connection should set the pathway.
All of this is possible only if we are willing to relearn existing skills, re-engineer and learn new skills for the future. I know you will. I know you, and I have no other way if we do not. I know you are capable. I know I am scared for the future as much as you are. I know that come 2023, your resolutions will not be quaint and muddled and that you shall make radical changes.
I am making some changes. I have taken my position in Life Sciences and willing to push boundaries. I started Cognit and am willing to give my all. I will re-educate, tear myself down and build the foundations back up and challenge existing notions.
Wishing you all happy holidays, and a radical new 2023.
I would love to learn about your changes. Tell me, what will your radicals be?