I had a quick Twitter chat with Ed Latimore today.
It was about tech, the economy and monoculture.
Now, Twitter is about the worst place for an in-depth discussion about the fate of the world, so it was limited.
But seeing as I just sent out a 2,000+ word framework for the complete evolution of a freelance service business, (too bad if you missed it… sign up so you don’t miss out on the next gem,) my brain is a little frazzled.
So I’m going to write some better thoughts on this subject.
We’re Moving Towards An “Inter-Connected World”
Ed made the argument that we’re heading towards an inter-connected world. This is self-evident. The fact I can argue with Ed on Twitter is proof of that.
Ed used that supporting evidence to suggest that cultural differences would meld and we’d have a status-quo monoculture as technology progressed.
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There are a few reasons I disagreed, but they’re not hugely relevant to what you’re probably on this site for.
But let’s summarise them anyway:
- Technological progress – or even status-quo – is not a given.
- Any sort of “monoculture” requires energy to maintain it – this continually progresses even when the monoculture fails
- Some other things are more important or more pressing than tech
From a “make an argument” perspective, the first two are the biggest. In a long-term, “This is human history” perspective, the third is biggest.
Here’s where I’m coming from.
It’s too early to say whether the Industrial Revolution is a fundamental evolution of behaviour or a weird quirk technologically. Humans have been around for hundreds of thousands of years and we created the combustion engine four-hundred years ago.
Now, the Agricultural Revolution is only about 5% of our time as a species and it might be that agriculture is unsustainable, ecologically speaking. But the Industrial Revolution kick-started a massive leap into humans growing in terms of their populations and energy needs to a completely unsustainable level.
If you’re thinking, God damn Jamie, this is some boring stuff then bear with me.
Our current lifestyle – the “you can sit in an air-conditioned house, pop to the shops where you’ve pre-ordered your sterile food that’s been shipped from all over the world and then bitch on Twitter about how your bagels are slightly crumpled” lifestyle – is completely unsustainable.
So what could happen?
Who Knows? But It’s Scary
I don’t know where I sit on the doom-and-gloom scale, (other than closer to doom-and-gloom than Ed Latimore,) mostly because nobody has enough knowledge about anything to know for sure what’ll happen.
What we know is that our current lifestyle is completely unsustainable, and we’re heading in a direction where this is more the case as the third world brings itself up to first world standards.
Again enough Jamie with the boring stuff but it’s hard to say “we’ll continue to be more intertwined” when the big question is, “How the hell are we going to power this stuff?”
In the short term, we’re moving towards higher connectivity and your fridge-freezer is collecting data on you to send back to Centralisation HQ.
We’re also potentially sitting on a powder keg for arguably that precise reason. And here’s where I get to the point.
An interconnected, global society requires ceaseless co-operation. We live on a planet with finite resources. The two are incompatible.
I avoid most geopolitical discussions because a) It benefits nobody and there are a lot of idiots, and b) when you break politics down, it all comes down to competition over those finite resources.
The “globally connected” society is a wonderful thing. The internet helps me make my living and we’re all sticklebacks in the great rivers of e-commerce.
But those platforms are also spying devices and ways of waging economic warfare. That’s what’s going on.
Unless you think the recent on-shoring of US companies and the tax reform is all about “bringing the jobs back.” In which case, ok.
But this is the framework in which we’re all operating, and it’s not all fun and games and sharing together.
But this is boring geopolitical stuff, so let’s talk about real life among us little fish who need to live.
Surviving The Potential Apocalypse
None of the above big players are as concerned with you as you should be. Create a problematic Twitter account, it’ll get taken down. Try talking politics on YouTube, bye-bye goes your income. Trade too many crypto-coins and expect a visit from your tax authority sooner or later.
It’s not personal. Despite what the weirdo politics guys on Twitter say, there aren’t teams of people devoted to personally making sure you don’t “get the word out” or whatever. It’s just business and if you’re bad for business, then you’re expendable.
We live on a planet with limited resources. You have to maximise yours. Obviously you’re expendable to the wider economy, but not so much the kids who you feed every night.
We live in a time of peace and prosperity, despite what the hysterical media would have you believe. There’s no guarantee that this will end – but there’s no guarantee it’ll stay forever either.
Study history, and you’ll find these things tend to be cyclical. Over the course of many generations, and we’re all just little cogs in the machine.
We have unprecedented tools at our disposal. We should take advantage of them without relying on them. Finally, don’t take for given that those tools will always be there.
Most importantly, build your own empire and not somebody else’s. This refers to your Twitter profile, your business, your home, whatever.
Build autonomy and everything else that comes as a result of that is a bonus.