Way back in the age of flower power, Dylan, The Who, and The Beatles, some dude made a prediction about computer processing power. He said that it would double every year and he was kinda, sorta, almost right. When I was a wee lad walking uphill both ways in the snow to elementary school, we had this horrible thing called the library. If you wanted to know something you had to look it up in the card catalog, navigate this weird Dewey decimal system to find the book and either make Xerox copies of specific pages or check it out and hope you’d remember to return it.
Today the internet is seeing global IP traffic in the range of 1.3 Zettabytes per year, growing to about 112 Exabytes per month. (1 Exabyte would hold 3,000 times all the information in the library of congress) You have instant access to the entirety of human knowledge in a tiny little device you carry around in your pocket.
Why do I mention this? Because I’ve been watching the political debates. Watching these meat puppets bloviate has been a mistake for many reasons, but they did get me thinking. Why are we busy trying to solve the problems of today using the same old school thinking of the past? Information and the world is changing too fast. Shouldn’t we be focusing on what we think tomorrows problems will be and try and solve those?
Take the disaster that is the VA and its ability to process and manage the healthcare claims of our veterans. The standard government approach is to study the data available today. Analyze the data. Hire flotillas of consultants to create fancy presentations about the data. Form a commission to inquire about the progress. And then, if we’re really lucky, some small incremental change might be made. Meanwhile the problem is now exponentially worse and advances in healthcare and informatics have made whatever we have obsolete. We’re busy solving a problem that will be vastly different tomorrow.
It’s time to start trying to solve what we think will be the problems of the future. The same tired old problems rehashed in every debate could have come from any election in the last two decades. How refreshing would it be to hear some thinking about what our actual future might hold? How are we going to feed a couple billion more people? Where’s our water going to come from? How are we going to generate enough cost effective power to run the new data centers coming online daily? I don’t care about ISIS, I care about what’s going to happen when Europe and China’s economy implodes. I don’t care about trying to revert the deindustrialization of the United States, I care about finding a new economic engine that will create middle wage jobs.
A wise man once asked, “do you take the red pill or the blue pill?” I’m starting to think I’ve been spending a little too much time on the darknet. It may be time to just take the blue pill, go back to being oblivious and go for a bike ride.