In a continuation of my series titled “A Journey through the Looking Glass”, I will summarize the discussion to date and describe how it is likely to drive a great reset. The post picks up from the last, where I explored the emerging world of ecosystems.
The series started with a description of the title. As stated, I believe we are on a journey through the looking glass – a metaphorical expression that means on the strange side, in the twilight zone, in a strange parallel world. It comes from the Alice and Wonderland literary work of Lewis Carroll, where he explores the strange and mysterious world Alice finds when she steps through a mirror. I have always found this to be a perfect metaphor for our times. The future world on the other side of this fictitious mirror is complex, uncertain, volatile, and unexpected. Much like Alice did not recognize the world she entered, we are unlikely to find a recognizable world emerging.
After describing the series plot, I then offered an historical perspective. History gives us a framework for thinking about the future, but before going there, I focused on the lessons of history. One such lesson emerged when analyzing historical tipping points. Analysis indicates that it has always been invention and the growth of knowledge that initiates the tip. Another lesson comes from the role historical cycles and catalysts have played in shaping our recent past. That analysis led me to a question: what are the future catalysts of change and what role do they play in the coming phase transition? This transition presents uncertainty, complexity, and volatility, introducing an overwhelming number of building blocks that combine in ways that are impossible to predict. With this knowledge of the past, I presented a framework for thinking about the future. That convergence framework lies at the heart of my forward-looking efforts.
In the last several posts, I looked at the two paths that innovation follows, with one path representing our ability to advance human development once again. The most recent post in the series explored the role of ecosystems in realizing those advances.
A GREAT RESET
We face the task of understanding and governing 21st-century technologies with a 20th-century mindset and 19th-century institutions– Klaus Schwab: Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
In a video titled “The Great Reset”, economist Tyler Cowen uses a great metaphor of canaries in coal mines to describe the warning signals that seem like local events, but instead represent greater and broader stress. He uses several recent examples to highlight the growing stress in the system and the potential for a great reset in the future. Regardless of your belief system – it is hard to argue with the underlying logic. Whether we view this as the Fourth Age in human history, a third major Tipping Point, or a Great Reset, structural change is inevitable. This short seven-minute video drives this point home.
The video features economist Tyler Cowen as he describes our current trajectory and the possibility of a great reset. He has talked about strong indicators that this great reset is already underway – and that was before the world began to envision A Post Pandemic Society. Mr. Cowen thinks about these indicators as canaries in the coal mine. As he describes it, miners used to take canaries with them to provide an alarm when levels of toxic gases were too high. The birds were much more susceptible to the gases and would show signs of distress – or even die – before the miners were in grave danger.
In the context of our world, he gives examples of past canaries like subprime borrowers during the Great Recession when they first showed signs of distress in the form of missed payments and foreclosures. He asks a great question: where are the possible canaries today? Again, he points to examples like riots that suggest stress in race relations, millions of men of prime working age missing from the labor force, and the rise of populists that indicate a serious discontent among millions of voters. The current situation in Ukraine is yet another canary. These canaries force us to Connect Dots in ways that allow us to deal with these cracks before they accumulate to a level where a great reset is the inevitable path forward.
He has pointed with prescience to something that should resonate with people today: the global community has trouble responding to crisis. He believes that if we stay on the course of complacency a great reset is very possible, and it won’t be pleasant. The great resets of the past have transformed the social order, and as I said in my post on A Post Pandemic Society, the seeds of that reset were sown well before the current pandemic. This same view was expressed in the series post on a phase transition. The question is: Is the canary dead?
You can view the five-part series by Tyler Cowen that describes this great reset Here. I will wrap up the series in the next post by focusing on what it means to live in times of transition.
First Post in the series: A Journey through the Looking Glass
Second Post: An Historical Perspective
Third Post : A Growth Of Knowledge
Fourth Post: Our Current World Order
Fifth Post: Convergence Drives Human Advancement
Sixth Post: Catalysts Of The Past And Those On The Horizon
Seventh Post: A Phase Transition
Eight Post: Our Complex, Uncertain, And Volatile Future
Ninth Post: The Building Blocks Of The Future
Tenth Post: Dual Paths Of Innovation
Eleventh Post: The Next Phase Of Human Development
Twelfth Post: The Journey: A World Of Ecosystems