Am I Next? Human Nature, Technology, Change

The old adage that the only constant is change may be true for technology, but it is not so much true for human nature.

With relatively few loners and psychopaths, most of mankind exhibits the characteristics and behavior grossly referred to as human nature. That is, an individual will first attempt to identify as part of the herd (tribe, clan, group, whatever), and then attempt to attain a position in the herd’s hierarchy based on their inherent strengths, skills, birth, education, or some other generally recognized characteristic. And then to reinforce that hierarchal position with some form of totemic signaling – be it by position or the acquisition and/or display of goods.

In this, there will always be inequality, with some people being stronger or weaker, leaders or followers, producers or consumers, givers or takers, doers or slackers, etcetera – with the most of the people falling somewhere in the middle – hence the bell curve. Hence, one needs always to consider what it means to be an outlier at the edge of the curve.

A note about social justice warriors – this is a political movement that capitalizes on natural inequities by promising equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity. True class warfare and wealth re-distribution lead to chaos, confusion, and eventually a type of decay death spiral that demands a totalitarian government supported by special interests which are kept fighting each other lest they grow strong enough to overpower the regime in power. In the end, the only equality that is shared by the masses is equality of suffering and misery.

There is a class of humans that create nothing, but manage to enhance their position by facilitating the trades of others as middlemen and reporters. And, another class of individuals who gain or maintain power by controlling and profiting on real, imagined, or man-made scarcity as politicians.

There is some human satisfaction in getting something for free, jumping the line, or simply coming out ahead on a transaction. And individuals tend to want what they can’t have or belongs to someone else – especially if that someone else is higher on the hierarchal totem pole. 

Technology will always gain as faster and wider adoption if it can be used for illegal purposes. The classic example is the adoption of video recorders to distribute and playback pornographic material or the use of the internet to facilitate gambling, the avoidance of taxes, or the purchase of illicit goods.

So, in the final analysis, one may bet on technology – but only if it facilitates individual wants and needs. A fancy way of saying, if you want to get rich, find a need and fill it with a high-margin product with an exponential growth record.

We would be remiss if we did not comment on the greater fool theory – thinking that there will always be some fool to buy individuals out of a losing proposition. Pretty much what powers some of the giant technology companies that have never made a profit, razzle and dazzle with some artificial metric such as “eyeballs,” “time-on-site,” “bounce rate” or some such phrase that may be, widely, and wrongly, considered as a synonym of profitability.

We have seen great technological strides, but not very much improvement in human nature. Bet on human nature – it’s a sure thing.