What, Me Worry?

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The folks at The Edge asked a whole bunch of the “most complex and sophisticated minds” (their words) what should we worry about in 2013?

The many answers make for a long read, but are by turns interesting and illuminating. Most of these sophisticated people worry about the disconnect between science and popular culture, about the “future shock” effect of new technology and about the future of their own particular speciality. Worry, like politics it seems, is always local.

Maybe that’s why I am most taken by Brian Eno’s contribution:

Most of the smart people I know want nothing to do with politics. We avoid it like the plague—like Edge avoids it, in fact. Is this because we feel that politics isn’t where anything significant happens? Or because we’re too taken up with what we’re doing, be it Quantum Physics or Statistical Genomics or Generative Music? Or because we’re too polite to get into arguments with people? Or because we just think that things will work out fine if we let them be—that The Invisible Hand or The Technosphere will mysteriously sort them out?

Whatever the reasons for our quiescence, politics is still being done—just not by us. It’s politics that gave us Iraq and Afghanistan and a few hundred thousand casualties. It’s politics that’s bleeding the poorer nations for the debts of their former dictators. It’s politics that allows special interests to run the country. It’s politics that helped the banks wreck the economy. It’s politics that prohibits gay marriage and stem cell research but nurtures Gaza and Guantanamo.

But we don’t do politics. We expect other people to do it for us, and grumble when they get it wrong. We feel that our responsibility stops at the ballot box, if we even get that far. After that we’re as laissez-faire as we can get away with.

What worries me is that while we’re laissez-ing, someone else is faire-ing.

I’m certainly not ready for Terry Gilliam’s glib response.

I’ve given up asking questions. l merely float on a tsunami of acceptance of anything life throws at me… and marvel stupidly.

Read, as they say, the whole thing.

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