Watching the social tide

Mariner has mentioned a time or two that, as we all are well aware, these are changing times, perhaps greater than any war that bookends changes in power or any historical unrest that transforms a social age, perhaps any technological transition since the first wheat was cast on open ground 11,000 years ago.

As we sit in the trenches with the storm of change exploding above us, around us and within us, it is hard to see the horizon; it is hard to know if the storm is passing; it is impossible to feel secure or happy in the maelstrom.

But the storm is moving. The seas are changing. Even as largely dysfunctional U.S. governments struggle with the traditions of the last century versus the unknown icons that are emerging in this century, still there are signs of change. The tide indeed is turning.

A visible measure is the transition of global economic theory already moving from nationally based trade and tariff to internationally aligned supply chains, notable corporate examples are large data firms like Amazon, Apple and Google and, unadvertised, military relationships; last century’s wars of occupation are failing as several technologies render borders irrelevant.

The relationship of jobs to wages is changing. The advances in data technology and automation just since the start of this century have disrupted the centuries old tradition of work for pay. As recently as the last presidential election, one candidate advocated a government-supplied stipend that was not associated with jobs. While upgrades in infrastructure, responses to global warming and new work derived from supply chain development will sustain ‘work for pay’, it is inevitable that working class jobs will diminish due to automation and computer intelligence; for example, 1.7 million long haul truck drivers will not be needed in a decade or two. This struggle between the giant philosophies of capitalism and socialism will not transition quickly but the tide will force continuous reexamination of the relationship.

On the same day that this post is written, the news reports cover a large condominium that has collapsed in Miami Beach, Florida. Miami Beach sits on a barrier island, one of many along the East Coast known as the Outer Banks. The geologic history of base sediments in this region is limestone and unconsolidated shelly sand. Given that Miami Beach has installed state-of-the-art pumps in its drainage system since 2014, that sea water has contaminated potable ground water and that every associated industry predicts that the city will be 1 1/2 feet under the ocean surface in 60 years, the condominium collapse is a sign of changing tides courtesy of global warming. Global warming could displace as many as 3.9 million US citizens by the end of the century; fourteen US cities could disappear.[1]

In just the last fifteen years medical science has made life-changing advances. The most significant are CRISPR, which enables genetic modification to individuals to repair or prevent virtually any disorder or tendency, and, courtesy of the response to Covid, the ability to create organic protein. Also notable is the ability to produce a molecule called NAD+ which extends cell life and slows the degradation of aging.

One change within the trench itself is an impact on socialization. Everything from dating websites to smartphones to Zoom education to online shopping to church services online and more have one thing in common: decreasing socialization. The future impact of decreasing socialization is unclear but some studies have begun tracking the effect on society in general. The nuclear family has been around long enough to know that slow cultural change can alter life significantly. What about decreased socialization in addition to nuclear families? The shelter-in from the pandemic perhaps may be basic training for future lifestyles.

Ancient mariner


[1] See:

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