Lately people have been using the idea that something is a black swan as excuse for being powerless. as an excuse. But this is not only a massive abdication of responsibility, it’s also an equally massive misunderstanding of the moment. Because preparedness has no meaning if it’s not directed towards preparing for black swans. There is nothing else worth preparing for.
The future is the product of the black swans we have yet to encounter.
A couple of months ago Gwern published a list of improvements since 1990. I thought it gave short shrift to the many changes which have been wrought upon society by technological progress. He does include a section on "Society" but it's woefully inadequate, and despite having a further theme to the list of identifying "unseen" changes he overlooks many of the intangible harms which progress might or might not have inflicted on us. To illustrate this I bring in the story of my great-grandmother, which I don't want to cheapen with a summary.
I got some pushback on the episodes I did about Afghanistan. Some of it was directed at the idea that "we are no longer a serious people". But this pushback, rather than talking me out of the position made me explore it even more deeply. This episode is the result of that exploration. As part of it I bring in recent difficulties experienced by the CIA, the Vietnam War, and the differences between right and left brained processing.