Changes In Society From 2010 to 2020

I admit the title of this post is a bit misleading, mainly because there is still six months left in 2019.  But as I have spent more time by myself and just allowing my mind to think and ponder, I got to thinking about the changes in society just in the last ten years.  This time last year I did a post on the changes my grandma saw in her 97 years of life.  Since today, June 28, is her birthday (she would be 101 if she were still alive), I am feeling a bit reflective on the things I’ve seen.  And it hit home the changes I saw in society just in this decade.  I’ve decided to do a for fun list of things that have occurred just in the 2010s.  I will try to avoid politics as, for one, it can cause too many arguments (and I’m just not in the mood for that) and, second, too many people think politics and economics can solve problems that are really technical and scientific in nature.  Though I am beginning to see more people pay attention to science and tech than I did even five years ago.  So here goes with the list.  Much of these changes are documented on webpages like future timeline.net, quantumrun.com, humanprogress.org, diamandis.com, kurzweilai.net, futurism.com, wikipedia.org, and with a few minutes of focused Google search.  So here goes

  1. Apple debuts the iPad (2010)
  2. Scientists create synthetic life (2010)
  3. Solar power dramatically drops in cost
  4. Beginnings of Augmented Reality (2010)
  5. Speech to speech translation in smart phones
  6. Scientists trap anti matter (2010)
  7. The death of Osama bin Laden (2011)
  8. First synthetic organ transplants (2011)
  9. Three Gorges Dam is operational in China (2011)
  10. Windows 8 is released (2012)
  11. Creation of human embryonic stem cells through cloning (2013)
  12. Gene therapy becomes available
  13. China’s first unmanned moon landing (2013)
  14. Google Glass is released (2014)
  15. Rosetta probe lands on a comet (2014)
  16. Test flights of NASA’s Orion Spacecraft (2014)
  17. Smart watches become popular
  18. Virtual reality becomes popular
  19. Self regulating artificial hearts (2015)
  20. Windows 10 is released (2015)
  21. New Horizons probe reaches Pluto (2015)
  22. Electric car ownership takes off
  23. Juno probe reaches Jupiter (2016)
  24. Agricultural robots
  25. Electric and hybrid car sales reach 100,000 per year for the first time (2017)
  26. Internet connected devices outnumber humans (2017)
  27. Beginnings of 3D printing as a consumer technology
  28. Beginnings of 5G networks
  29. Galileo satellite navigation system comes online
  30. LEDs begin to dominate lighting
  31. Connected vehicle tech
  32. Automated freight transport begins
  33. Autonous automobiles begin
  34. Beginnings of lab grown meat
  35. First vertical farms
  36. Increased automation in mining industries
  37. Half of the world’s population has internet access (2019)
  38. Reusable rockets
  39. Private space flight
  40. Social media becomes ubiquitous
  41. Beginnings of Cryptocurrency
  42. Beginnings of Blockchain tech
  43. Personal genome sequencing becomes common
  44. Macular degeneration becomes curable
  45. First demonstrations of solar sale technology
  46. Increased automation in retail stores
  47. Vast improvements in AI
  48. AI assistants become commercially available
  49. Wireless and implantable devises to monitor health conditions in real time
  50. The 100th anniversary of World War I
  51. Beginnings of trials of anti aging treatments
  52. Ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft become common
  53. Trials of medications to reserve obesity
  54. Trials of male birth control pills
  55. Internet based television becomes common

These are just a few of the highlights.  This is by no means intended to be a comprehensive list.  It is merely to reflect on the changes that have happened just in the last ten years.  Bill Gates put it well when he said short term is often overestimated but long term change is often underestimated.

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Pessimism and Optimism

Haven’t been outside of my neighborhood for almost two weeks now, mainly because of the bitter cold, snow, and ice.  I haven’t even gone outside this week because it’s been so cold.  Hopefully it doesn’t stay this bad all winter because I’m beginning to get kind of tired of being housebound all the time.  And I don’t think I’m the only one.  Seems to me that even my family are starting to get short tempered and irritable over the cold weather.  My neighbors are getting short tempered too.  And of course the people on social media have been short tempered and joyless ever since social media was opened to the public at large.  At this point I’m not sure I want to stay in touch with anyone besides family and a few close friends.  It just seems that humans get some kind of sadistic joy out of being angry all the time.  Personally I’m burned out on all the anger and pessimism.  Have been for a long time.

I almost never heard anything good about my fellow man or the world in general from my teachers and elders while in school or even in college.  I had one teacher in junior high who seemed to get joy out of ranting about how the “cold cruel world” was going to kick our thirteen year old butts.  And of course I rarely heard anything good about people in general from the news stations or even church service.  After observing these happenings until I was in my mid twenties, I started taking notice of what was actually happening compared to what I was being told by my elders and bosses.  After the economic crisis of 2008 and hearing that civilization was fixing to collapse any day, I payed attention and took notes.  Of course it didn’t happen and the people who stayed in the stock market and didn’t panic are now making major money.  That is when I came to the conclusion that the crowd is usually wrong. The whole ‘wisdom of crowds’ usually comes to nothing or mob mentality.  The world didn’t end with Y2K, or 9/11, or the housing bust of 2008, or the Mayan calendar of 2012, or when the conservatives were in power, or when the liberals were in power, or when social media became a festering cesspool for people to gladly wallow in negativity and pessimism.  After years of hearing that the world was going to end any day now and that younger people (or older people depending on who you ask) would be the death of us all, that’s when I had enough.  Enough is enough.  I have had it with fear mongering and pessimism about things that never come to pass or turn out to me more manageable than we previously thought.

Many worries are much to do about nothing and come to nothing.  And everything else seems to be more manageable than previously thought.  If our species can survive world wars, crippling famines, plagues that kill off millions of people, ice ages, tyrants, incompetent leaders, and even science used for evil purposes, some people can survive just about anything barring a comet hitting our planet or the sun going out.  I probably wouldn’t survive most major events, primarily because of my mental illness and declining physical health as I age.  But it’s okay as far as I’m concerned.

I can say that I have lived a pretty good life considering the circumstances of having a mental illness my entire adulthood.  I have a good relationship with all my family members, I got to know my nephews and niece, I got to know quite a bit of my family history, and preserve it, before my grandparents died, I have cool friends who are willing to at least put up with my eccentric behavior and mental breakdowns, I haven’t been to jail or homeless, the longest I spent in a mental hospital was one week (and I have been working with a mental illness since age seventeen), and until recently was in good physical health in spite of fighting weight problems.  When I was a teenager I was able to go scuba diving and climb an Aztec pyramid when I visited Mexico.  In my early thirties I could walk five miles a day easily in spite weighing over 300 pounds.  I got to hike and camp in the mountains of Colorado.  I got to see B.B. King preform live a couple years before he died.  I got to see country music acts like Brad Paisley, Reba Macintyre, Sarah Evans, etc. preform live before they became big stars.  I have been able to live on my own with a mental illness for almost fifteen years.  And I got to learn about some of the cool things that science and tech are doing that will be coming to fruition within the next ten to twenty years.  My only true regret is that I might not live long enough to see some of the really cool things coming, like colonies on the moon or the first people on Mars or life extension tech or nuclear fusion plants.  But I am convinced that such things are coming in most people’s lifetimes.  And I am not an optimist by nature.  I had to force myself to become this way until eventually it became second nature.

Working From Home For Free and Thoughts on Tech Advances

I’ve been doing this blog about living with schizophrenia for a little over four years at this point.  Even though I haven’t turned a profit from it, I consider it the best and most meaningful job I ever held.  It doesn’t compare.  The only other job I ever held that was even close to being a mental health blogger/advocate was when I was working as an instructors’ aide as a graduate assistant years ago.  I enjoyed substitute teaching classes, grading papers, proctoring exams, answering students’ questions, and doing academic research.  It’s too bad I lost that job because of my grades in the masters’ courses.  I didn’t really care to be some business hotshot; I really wanted to get my masters’ in economics so I could teach economics and personal finance classes at a junior college or small state university.  This was before I found out that the majority of junior college teachers are part timers or adjuncts.  But then, many non management employees are part timers.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this is so the employers don’t have to pay benefits.  I never got benefits at any job I ever held.  That’s why I’m on disability insurance through Social Security.  If I were to go back to work, it would have to be where I was completely cured of schizophrenia.  Many insurance companies won’t cover preexisting conditions and the suggestion of single payer universal healthcare in the USA is very unpopular.  So here I am on disability and wanting to contribute.  But if I got even a 30 hour a week job at McDonald’s, that would be enough for the feds to toss me out of the program.

Since I am unable to work for money because of the current system, I have had to find other ways to contribute that doesn’t involve me making money.  That is why I blog about life with a mental illness.  Many may dismiss my work as I don’t make money from it and I don’t have a large audience.  But many people do volunteer work and don’t see any money from it.  There are people who deliver meals to elderly and disabled people, people who hand out blankets and bedding at homeless shelters, people who coach Little League baseball, people who teach Sunday school, among numerous others.  A person doesn’t have to make a lot of money (or any money) to make a difference in other people’s lives.  My brother works as an engineer and makes six figures, but I doubt he has thousands of people in over 100 different nations that have seen his work.  My parents have done medical missionary work in Panama and had a reach that way.  And they made no money from their several trips.  Sometimes a person has to do something just because it’s the right and beneficial thing to do regardless if money changes hands.

One of highest paid professions in the world is as hedge fund manager on Wall Street.  And yet do they really build anything or create anything besides moving money (most of it digits on a computer) around?  I’m not anti business but I think there are better measures of someone’s worth to a nation or civilization than how big their net worth is.  I understand if someone produces a service, an idea, or an item that many people want, then yes that person should probably make something in return for the years of thankless hard work and hard times. The “overnight successes” often came to be that way through years of quiet hard work, having good mentors and studying their fields. If this blog ever became something like a best selling book or a well watched youtube channel or lead to a career as a writer for an online journal, I wouldn’t refuse the money.  I just hope I wouldn’t forget that telling the truth about mental illness and it’s related problems should be what my work is all about.

Ideally, I would love to be cured of schizophrenia and be able to work again and not worry about having to take medications every night.  As many advances as medical science is making anymore, that might not be the fantasy it was even ten years ago.  If I did become cured, sure I would have to find a job and likely update my education.  But that would be a good headache to have.  With my blogging skills, maybe I could get a job as a technical writer.  Or maybe by then machines will have taken most of the jobs and made living so inexpensive that money doesn’t matter very much.  Just in my life in the last ten years, with so much being digitized and put for free or near free access online, I can live cheaper now than I could ten years ago.  And if things like 3D printing takes off like most technicians and scientists think it will, money will matter even less to me ten years from now than it does now.  A farmer in rural Africa with a micro financed smart phone has more computing power and access to civilization’s information than did NASA in the 1960s when they were sending astronauts to the moon and back.  We are living in some cool and interesting times.  And right now much of this can be enjoyed by even lower class people (at least lower class by modern standards) for not much money.  And I think as tech advances, money may matter less and less with each passing decade.  Maybe when I’m an old man unpaid work will be the norm because machines do most of the manufacturing or farming.  It is some cool times were in even if the ride is bumpy and rough at times.  Stay tuned.

Incentives and Rewards

I haven’t been paying any attention to the news for months now.  At least I haven’t payed attention to anything outside of science and tech lately.  It’s too bad that there aren’t any news channels that really devout any of their schedule to talking about science news.  As popular as Anthony Bourdain’s international travel and food shows are on CNN, I really think there would be an audience for these such shows.  As it is I get most of my news online anymore.  I even get my local news online now.  If I can keep the internet going and my computers don’t crash, I can stay well connected and I don’t even have to leave my living room.  I’m doing a job (or at least a public service) and I’m wearing gym shorts and no shoes right now.  Good luck trying to do volunteer service around your community without putting on pants or shoes 🙂

I enjoy tech and science.  I always have.  My brother and I used to take apart some of my dad’s old electronics equipment just to see how they were put together.  Since my dad has been a ham radio operator for years (my brother and I have our ham radio licenses too), he always had some pieces of equipment with circuit boards and wires we could take apart and see if we could put them back together again.  My parents gave us lots of building toys and brain builders every Christmas.  Seems like we could always count on getting Lego sets or brain games or books for Christmas and birthdays.  I suppose I just took having medical professionals for parents that really made learning fun and stressed the importance of doing well in school for granted.  It wasn’t until I was in college did I realize just how rare having books and enrichment games at home really was.

If there is any point to my previous two paragraphs, it is that we get what we reward.  My parents and my friends’ parents rewarded creativity and intelligence.  It really helped me in college when I had an academic scholarship that paid for half of my college expenses.  I don’t think there were any people in my high school class that got any athletic scholarships to college.  Unfortunately too many people, at least in my country, think that their tickets out of the slums or dying rural towns are through athletics or being entertainers.  Sure mediums like youtube have made it possible for people to make middle class wages with a decent following.  But even the ones making middle class income are few and far between out of the millions of producers on youtube.  In short, we don’t need armies of youtube comedians or singers, but we can definitely use more scientists and engineers.