A sketched picture of James' head

James Smith

Building a better future out of code

Fixing the life support

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Somehow, this year feels different.

Maybe it’s because of the increase in public awareness of the problems with the world at the end of 2011. A greater understanding that governments and people don’t run the world any more, that we have given money too much power, that we are running full tilt at a cliff-edge; it feels like it’s adding up.

Charlie Brooker said recently that 2011 felt like a series finale; I’m not sure about that, it felt to me more like the buildup in the penultimate episode. 2012 seems like the actual last episode when the big events will happen (probably with a few cliff-hangers left over for 2013).

This impending feeling that big events are coming could be imaginary of course, but I hope not. We need big events now (and I don’t mean the obvious 2012 fake-apocalypse fantasy). We are racing so fast towards collapse that we have to do something now, or we will be a cautionary tale in the Cockroach Book Of Ancient Civilisations. We still have the ability to save ourselves (just); I hope that this year brings the will to engage with the problem.

We need to grow up, realise the full-spectrum danger we are in, and do something about it. We need to mature as a species, and fast. We need to get over our selfish approach and make a better society for the future, together.

I am a software engineer; that makes me next to useless in a collapsed society. My daughter quite literally needs a functioning, liberal, caring society to keep her alive. Moving to a farmhouse, becoming self-sufficient and letting everyone else collapse is no good for me. A functioning technological society is an essential life support system.

With all that in mind, I am going into this year with an objective to make best use of the skills I have to attack the big problems where I can, and if it doesn’t work out, to fail magnificently having done my best.

I hope you’ll join me. We’ve got a hell of a job to do.


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