Why does it seem like the world is getting worse when some people are becoming more optimistic?

Why does it seem like the world is getting worse when some people are becoming more optimistic?

[ 24/November/22 ]

Many different components to why this is so.

One aspect is that we are strongly biased to notice danger. The evolutionary reasons for that are reasonably obvious, as not noticing something dangerous could lead to an early death, but missing an opportunity usually isn’t immediately fatal.

In our modern age of instant world wide communication, we don’t just get to see the dangerous things in our village, we get to see the dangerous things everywhere on the planet, even when their danger to us personally is close to zero.

But because of our bias to notice dangers, the information systems (news media, TV, AI Ad algorithms, etc) feed us that which subconsciously gets and holds our attention.

So we often get the impression that things are worse than they are.

There are many other sets of contributors to the problem.

The economic and political systems of the world are no longer fit for purpose. Advanced automation has fundamentally changed the dynamics of those systems that once made them useful approximations to optimal solutions to some very complex problem spaces.

Another major problem is our tendency to simplify the reality we find ourselves in. To some degree, that is necessary, but over doing it can cause major issues. We all need to be aware that whatever reality is, it is certainly more complex than any understanding we can possibly create of it. It doesn’t take long to prove that to yourself, and modern understandings of how brains actually function demonstrate repeating layers of simplification in the subconscious systems that deliver to us our perceptual reality.

We come with very strong biases to prefer simple solutions. We love to be “right”, and to make others “wrong”, but the reality seems to be deeply more complex than any simple right/wrong understanding can possibly deal with. And many people are able to get beyond the simple binaries of right/wrong, good/bad, etc; and appreciate the near infinite diversity that seems to actually exist around and within us.

Our tendency to over simplify has us attempting to solve problems with rules; but the reality of the problem space is deeply more dimensional and complex than any rule set can possibly deal with; so what is actually required of all of us is something deeply more difficult and uncertain; we need to be responsible, each to the best of our limited and fallible abilities. We need to accept the evolutionary reality that all new levels of complexity are built upon and sustained by, new levels of cooperation; and any level of competition that is not built on a cooperative base is destructive of both liberty and security.

For liberty to survive it too has to be responsible and cooperative. Liberty without responsibility destroys all levels of structure.

So it is a deeply complex and fundamentally uncertain world we find ourselves in, and for many such a thought is deeply disturbing, and they go back to the security of simple binaries (and the reasons for that are deeply complex, and deeply embedded in our genetic and cultural systems).

What gives me optimism, is that it really does seem to be the case that more and more people are starting to appreciate the fundamental necessity of cooperation between all levels and classes and instances of agents; and the sorts of systems that are required to make such things stable. More people are becoming aware of the need for both freedom and responsibility. More are starting to see the need for fundamental change, for diversity, for redundancy. Central control has far more dangers than benefits, but cooperation between diverse agents delivers the greatest security over the longest time scale. Political or economic hegemony are not a survivable options, but security in diversity involving fundamental cooperation is.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) with reasonable security, tools, resources and degrees of freedom, and reasonable examples of the natural environment; and that is going to demand responsibility from all of us - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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