goodbye 2016, and rot in hell

It's been a long, rough year for anyone who wasn't hoping to set the modern world back by half a century.

megacity ruins

From implosions of governments across the world, to the unholy marriage of convenience between nationalist conspiracy theorists and oligarchs in power, to automation’s unchecked deepening of economic divides, to the deaths of numerous cultural icons, to such petty nastiness like the big winter holidays falling on weekends, and lasting an extra minute just to piss us off it seems, it was an awful, awful year designed to see how many setbacks the modern world can take. If you ever questioned whether there was a real global cabal in charge of keeping the world in order, 2016 answered loud and clear that if there was, it’s led by petulant children with adult bodies and resources. And if there was a childhood you wanted to be nostalgic about, it made sure you could be extra upset about losing it by reaping those who made it great with what must have been an implied maniacal grin. It was the year when the far right 45 and older set declared war on experts and the future, and thinks it won because it can now pretend that it can roll back the clock.

Normally this is where I’d say something inspiring, but it’s hard to be upbeat considering the global ugly turn of events. We have more cures, and less war overall, we had hope for the future and ideas for how to help integrate more people into the coming post-industrial world. Make no mistake, unless your job now requires acting on insights from big data or highly specialized and interpersonal skills, computers are coming for your paycheck, and not just in advanced economies. We’re going to need to rethink jobs for almost half the population and while the supporters of vindictive nostalgia may be satisfied with lashing out at experts and analysts, they’re setting themselves up for all sorts of failures as the steady march of the machines in the global economy continues, and they just destroyed their chances to stabilize themselves for a shot at new careers that will emerge as automation runs its course.

We knew this could happen, and our divides in both economics and culture have set the nostalgics up for failure when their favored policies are doomed to fail when they collide with reality. But yet, this is where we are. There’s a rough path ahead in 2017 for everyone whether they know it or not, and we have little choice but to try and make the best of it and work to land on our feet. As long as we have the tools to adapt we can keep moving forward even in spite of budget cuts, heckling, and sabotage soon to come. This is how we survived for thousand of years. We kept learning, inventing, and building to work through problems rather than surrender to them and turn on those at the forefront, demanding a slide backwards in time, and that’s what we will need to keep doing. We can choose to surrender to the revenge of the past, or we can realize that no matter what, we have to deal with the future, even if there are millions who want to pretend it’s not coming for us…

# politics // 2016 / economics / year in review


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