Can we really imagine what the next few years might look like, let alone out to 2035? Think back to 2010. It seems like just yesterday, but it was seven years ago! Do you remember what life was like before you used to Uber your way around town…before your phone really became a part of your life (for most of you)…before apps were your day to day connection to the rest of your day to day life (again for most of you)…before your 3-year old begged to play the latest coding game on that same phone…before drones became mainstream ways of war…before drones with HD cameras and infrared night vision with automated sensors controlled by simple apps…on your phone…available at Toys-r-Us for $29.99 became ubiquitous? If you cannot, then what you have experienced is what Thomas Kuhn would call a paradigm shift. Since 2010—really about 2007—there has been a paradigm shift in how we interact with the things of this world.
Now, imagine yourself in 1910. What will the next seven years look like? What will life look like in 1917? Will we get around town in the same fashion? Will we travel in the same way? Will we travel to the same places? Who will lead the countries of the world? Which are the remaining countries—or empires—of the world, and who are the emerging powers that we would not have necessarily noticed, like the United States.
Here is a great piece, that I think I may have recommended before that will give you a glimpse of the paradigm change about to change how the world worked and how that world would be organized. Margaret MacMillan’s essay, as part of the Brookings Institute’s essay series, is a concise parallel to her fantastic book, The War that Ended Peace, which details how the pressures of new technologies, new alliances, new economic relationships, new ideologies converged, resulting in the war to end all wars. Consider this—can you hear the echoes of history sounding similar today? Can we begin to make out what our next paradigm shift will unveil, or is the paradox of such thinking too immature that it just has to occur for us realize it?
Of note, for those following the blog and the book-a-week club, remember this month is a month of functional fictions. Last week should have looked at Joseph Heller’s, Catch-22. This week was scheduled Franz Khafka’s The Metamorphosis; however, I haven’t received my copy yet, so I may flip-flop with The Ugly American. Either way, as you follow along with this month’s fictions, you should be refreshed by some witty hindsight that will open your eyes to previous paradigms that actually still very current. The question, then, is are they really paradigms or are they conditions of human nature?