miriam english (miriam_e) wrote,
miriam english

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What we should do, but are too stupid to take the hint

We've recently been slapped in the face by reality a couple of times, but seem unable to collectively realise the obvious message.

The bushfires have been getting worse every few years until last year when they were utterly catastrophic. We desperately need to fix global warming. If we don't, then this will just continue to get worse. But the instant the immediate emergency is over, people just go back to ignoring the problem.

We will drag our feet in the change from fossil fuels; we will fight against efficiency; we will let corrupt politicians subsidise ruinous energy choices and steal land and poison water supplies to do so.

In a couple of years it will be much worse, and the fires even more horrific and people will demand to know why nothing was done to avert it... then afterwards everybody will relax and continue as before... again.

This new coronavirus was a massive wakeup call. It could have been so much worse. Just two or three times the lethality, let alone ten or thirty times the lethality could have easily spelled the end of our civilisation. But by pure dumb good luck, it is only about 3% lethal.

We have the technology to let us sail through this with almost no problem at all:

  • The internet lets us buy and sell stuff, work remotely, communicate with others, educate, and entertain ourselves (often completely free) while staying isolated.

  • Virtual reality (VR) can be used to fulfill people's need for human interaction. Games have forced the advancement of VR to the point where it has become a good substitute for real, face-to-face interaction... and it continues to improve rapidly.

  • We have begun the automation of the means of production so that most industries could potentially run without humans needing to put themselves in danger. When humans do need to be involved, the use of VR technology for telepresence allows people to remain safe.

  • We have the beginnings of artificial intelligence (AI) that could enhance automation so that very few industries will need humans to go to work and put themselves and others in danger. AI can help with delivering goods, diagnosing illness, legal work, scientific research, and data collation, taking the burden off humans and removing the risk of spreading infection.

  • We have experimented with Universal Basic Income (UBI) -- usually with superb outcomes -- so we know we have the capability to ensure entire populations can stay isolated during a pandemic without starving to death or losing their homes.

But for some reason I don't understand, our "leaders" are completely paralysed... except in China and some parts of Europe... and even they continue to ignore most of the solutions.

We know what we should be doing... but we won't do it.

After this pandemic passes we will gather up the pieces of our broken economies and damaged lives, mourn our losses, then go back to doing things exactly the same way again! It is almost certain the next pandemic will be far, far worse -- and, yes, there WILL be another. Of course there will. History teaches us that certainty. We've been given the chance to learn from this one, but we won't.

We will fight against automation, AI, and UBI. We will barely use the internet and VR, except for a small number of gamers who will be disparaged by the press as being weirdos. And when the next pandemic hits we will all be sooo surprised again... but we will do nothing to fix it... again.

For an absolutely brilliant species we are goddamn borderline insane.

(Crossposted from https://miriam-e.dreamwidth.org/334375.html at my Dreamwidth account. Number of comments there so far: comment count unavailable)

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