A World of Radical Inefficiency
One of the reasons that I'm so optimistic about our future is that we, as individuals and as a collective species, are nowhere near the point where we've tapped our full potential. How could we be when billions of people are getting by on dollars per day and we still don't have ubiquitous access to broadband internet and electricity? But it goes beyond economics and technology. Here's a quick, top of mind list of every area of life that still has huge, upside potential.
- Sustainable Energy: While we are seeing certain countries and cities finally cross the threshold into 100% renewable energy sources, we are decades out before the planet crosses that threshold.
- Manufacturing: The 3D printing revolution is just getting started, opening up the doors for cheap, one-off, just-in-time physical goods.
- Transportation: First world countries like the U.S. still have antiquated rail systems that, when replaced, could easily 2x and 3x travel speeds across the country. And let's not forget we are a decade away from solar powered, autonomous semis.
- Nutrition: Much of the world still lacks access to an affordable, sustainable, and well-balanced source of food. And then on the flip side, countries that have that access are not always knowledgeable enough or disciplined enough to stay away from a lifestyle that leads obeseity.
- Water: We've continued to deplete our natural water supplies without a sustainable way to build them back up. New technologies are making great progress, but we have a long way to go.
- Mental Health: From alzheimers to depression, we only have symptomatic ways of dealing with these conditions that affect millions of people worldwide.
- Modern Medicine: From heart disease to cancer, we only have symptomatic ways of dealing with these conditions that affect millions of people worldwide.
- Modern Financial Systems: Built and still running off of technology from the 60s-80s, our modern systems are not willing or innovative enough to support the underbanked, particularly in 3rd world countries where it's not worth the banks time to open up an account.
- Sustainable Food: We've yet to find a way to meet the global demand without depleting certain sources on land and in the ocean.
- Education: Our modern public school system was built for the industrial economy, which is largely being replaced by the information economy. New careers are being created and changed faster than our K-12 + college systems can keep up.
- Social Change: It's 2016 and yet there is still much to turmoil over issues surrounding gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, globalization, etc. And despite progress being made, there are many social and human psychology factors that resist the inevitable changes that need to come about.
- Politics: From Brexit to North Korea to the trainwreck known as the 2016 US presidential election, who can honestly say that there aren't some serious issues with the current political regimes? Yes, there are glimmers of good through each and every system, but there is still widespread greed and corruption permeating through it all.
When you step back and really think about it, it's shocking how well we are doing as a society given that there is so much room to grow! Compared to what life will be like when we've achieved these goals, we are incredibly inefficient by those standards. That is why I'm optimistic for the future because there is still so much upside potential!
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About Rick Manelius
Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.