Cyreenik Says

February 2018 issues

Looking at the Big Picture, and seeing it's a pretty one

The communities of the world produce a constant stream of doom and gloom gossip. Most of the time this is cheap talk, but periodically members of some communities pay serious attention to the discouraging news and get seriously worried. When this happens the communities experience witch hunts of various sorts and other social disasters. Some examples in the economic world are the Hong Kong Turnover in 1997 and the worries about computers failing when Y2K arrived and computer clocks went from 99 to 00. In these two cases the scary upcoming events quickly turned into non-events when they arrived. But the aftermaths included busts in those economies where people had been paying attention -- the Asian Flu bust of 1998 and the Dotcom Bust of 2000.

The good news is that these doom and gloom scenarios really are cheap talk. The world is not ending or getting worse off.

What is really happening -- the real Big Picture -- is one of steady progress. It is, in fact, a delightful picture of the people of the world steadily getting more prosperous and more educated. This progress has been going on for over three hundred years now. This round started in Europe and has been spreading around the world as the Europeans spread the fruits of their progress through their vigorous trading around the world.

Is this round going to end soon? Not likely. What will happen instead is that artificial intelligence (AI) and automation improvements made the world over will take the place of European improvements. The world is going to continue to be a more prosperous and better place to live for many more decades to come.

This thought was inspired by a 9 Feb 18 WSJ article, The Enlightenment Is Working Don’t listen to the gloom-sayers. The world has improved by every measure of human flourishing over the past two centuries, and the progress continues, writes Steven Pinker. by Steven Pinker.

From the article, "For all their disagreements, the left and the right concur on one thing: The world is getting worse. ...Such gloominess is decidedly un-American. The U.S. was founded on the Enlightenment ideal that human ingenuity and benevolence could be channeled by institutions and result in progress."



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