Today, this country made a decision, but it isn’t a decision in which anyone should be proud. Whether you voted for your candidate or against the other one, or a mixture of both (or went third-party), the conclusion is a troubling result. We’ve said that experience is irrelevant. We’ve said that decorum is unnecessary. We’ve rewarded hateful speech and actions, probably because we share the fears from which they derive. We’ve legitimized a lot more, but it’s not even worth diving into it here.
In my research of machine learning (artificial intelligence), a common theme arose around the idea of logarithmic change. This means that as change (in this case, computer performance and “smarts”) occurs, it occurs at a faster rate than prior. Not only does a system get smarter as it “grows”, but it gets smarter more quickly. Think of it like a car which goes 0-60 in 4 seconds, 60-120 in 3, 120-180 in 1, 180-240 in 0.1, and finally 240-300 in 0.0001 seconds. Once it’s going 500, can you even process that type of acceleration? More importantly, how would you describe the velocity increase at 1,000? If you’re struggling to wrap your brain around it, that’s ok. You’re not alone. We perceive the world linearly, and this is at the core of many challenges.
Our world has been in the midst of this increasing rate of change for all of its history. However, only within the past decade or so has it become so impactful on the average person’s life. Minorities are rapidly becoming the majority, social norms are shifting at an accelerated rate, and the divide between what our knowledge contains and what the average person knows (or even *could* know) is growing exponentially. You could probably describe the basic idea of how your VCR worked. How about your iPhone?
This is why the challenges of today (and tomorrow) are so difficult to reconcile. We think in a linear fashion: Last year was that, this year is such and such, so next year will be a derivative of those. Except this no longer applies. Change accelerated and next year will be something we can hardly imagine.
And neither candidate appeared to grasp this fundamental concept.
This election was an expression of deep-seated fear of the unknown (be it gay marriage, traditional gender roles breaking down, ethnic diversification on a majority scale, expanding capabilities of a surveillance state, and any number of other topics). What many always knew to be true simply isn’t anymore. Like being in an earthquake, people’s “bedrock” is cracking. Anxiety over what an ever-increasingly changing future will bring led Americans to make rash decisions all the way through the election process.
I don’t have any answers. I’m pretty sure our President-elect doesn’t, either. So we’re going to have to work together and figure out how we will move forward while navigating this wildly-accelerating car.
Image credit: Me, seeking inner balance and focus.