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Descending to Hell: What’s Happening to Humankind?

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Shanghai residents locked inside their apartments, venting their rage by screaming in the night.  

This is truly beyond the pale. The wave of madness that descended upon us during the past two years was already unbelievable as it was. But it is getting worse. Much worse. 

What we are seeing looks like the starting scene of a horror movie, with the zombies locked inside their cages, rattling at the bars while trying to escape. I read that sometimes it happens in jail that the inmates start screaming together, rhythmically. It is like that, just on a much larger scale, the entire city of Shanghai. Has the whole world became a jail? It looks like a scientific experiment with rats. Have we become rats? Have we descended to Hell? What is left of human dignity? Human rights? Human life? 

We seem to have overcome some kind of unknown threshold. There had never been 8 billion people on Earth. And 8 billion people had never been connected in a single planetary communication network. Nobody can know what may happen when something that had never happened before happens. 

The impression is that the whole system is going unstable. If you see humankind as a complex system, then you know that moves as the result of a tangle of internal feedback effects. And we know that when a system is sufficiently large, feedbacks can perversely gang up together to collaborate in bringing the system down. It is the essence of the Seneca Effect (growth is sluggish, but ruin is rapid). 

In this case, the system may simply have become too big to be under anyone or anything’s control. The feedbacks are untangling themselves, by themselves, like in a giant Jenga tower starting to fall. The immense creature quivers, moves, oscillates, bumps up and down as it mashes information flows that push it in one direction or another. It is a planetary-sized zombie. It doesn’t know where it is going, it just moves on, crushing everything it steps on. 

And now what? We don’t know. Nobody knows. But the same Seneca who said that “ruin is rapid” also said that “veritatem dies aperit,” or “time discloses the truth.” There will be better times in the future. There always are.  

Originally appeared on The Seneca Effect Read More

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