Halloween. Another excuse for costumes and candy. I think a three piece suit is a costume, and mine doesn’t fit anymore (in more ways than one.) Candy is sweet, but I prefer sweet things like liqueurs and cookies (preferably made by cooking with cannabis.) Halloween is also a time for spooky things, and when I think of spooky things I think of things that aren’t part of holiday displays – unless they’re put together by physicists, sociologists, or economists. Here are some of things that can be tricks played on humanity or treats, depending on how they arrive.
Asteroids and Comets
Big rocks falling out of the sky are bad. Bang goes a city, the species, the planet. Big rocks flying around in space can be good. Mine minerals there instead of here. Use the materials to create a backup colony in case Earth 1.0 has a critical failure. Every rock removed from orbit is one less rock that can hit us. There are a lot of rocks out there.
Some day soon the computers, the software, the Internet or whatever may wake up. When that happens, everything changes, possibly within seconds. The treat would be if it was benevolent and even compassionate. The trick would be if it was like something out of Terminator or The Matrix. (Some think this has already happened, and that the intelligence decided to either control subtly or ignore us.)
I’m talking extraterrestrials. It’s a good bet that they are out there. It is a tougher bet that they’ll show up here. If all we do is communicate, then the risk and benefit is limited to what they can convince us to do, trick or treat. If they show up, we’ll probably be at their mercy. The trick will be if they are into conquest or self-centered enough to ignore our pleas. The treat will be if they are coaches and mentors who’ve already gone through all of this and are welcoming us into a sweet society. (Some think they’re already here. Some know they’re already here. In which case, considering our situation, are they trying to make it better or worse?)
Einstein knew about spooky action at a distance, also known as Bell’s Theorem. Change a particle here, and its entangled partner changes too, even if it is on the other side of the universe. It’s spooky for a lot of reasons but the key one is that we don’t know how or why it works. We’re experimenting with it because that’s what we do. The treat could be instantaneous communication. The trick could be that we’re effectively flipping switches in a power plant that we don’t understand. We wouldn’t want someone flipping random switches in a nuclear power plant. Are we doing the same thing?
Social Revolutions and Revelations
Since the Internet connected the majority of the population, we’re finally aware of the variety and diversity of people, problems, and potential. Conventional wisdom is being challenged, sometimes in debate, sometimes in revealing videos. It is now easier to care about far more people. It is also easier to be scared by far more people. That’s largely a personal choice, and lots of people are making that choice. The treat would be if we learn to think of each other as being born equal. The trick would be if we fracture into a near infinity of us versus them and them and them and them. Revolutions are usually bloody. Revelations are usually difficult, but transformative.
Old versus New Economy
We know the Old Economy, and can arguably prove that we don’t know how to handle it. Its familiarity is a comfort zone for many, even if it isn’t sustainable. A New Economy seems to be emerging, but we know even less about it, there’s more than one version to pick from, and there’s no guarantee that any of them are sustainable either. The trick will be if we can’t find something that’s sustainable. The treat will be if we can find something sustainable, and then manage to readily navigate from one to the other without massive disruption. Our historical record is not very encouraging.
All Tricks, No Treats
Some things are just spooky because they’re powerful and we don’t have any control over them: earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, magnetic pole flips, solar storms, ice ages, mega-droughts, pandemics, ocean acidification, I think I’ll stop listing these. Eek! Oops. Just thought of nukes, grey goo, cascading satellite collisions, epic Internet hacks, and various terrorist actions. Double eek.
All Treats, no Tricks
Is there such a thing? Renewable energy seems to be heading that way. Cheap, clean power is always possible; whether it is cold fusion, hot fusion, anti-matter, somehow harnessing dark energy, or some discovery and invention, surely there’s something that works better than what we have now. Expanding consciousness is harder to track, but some are working on it. Medical advances that allow health without the cost by using the body and natural processes to maintain health and cure ailments are possible, especially, considering that we are only just beginning to understand biology, neuroscience, the biome, and nutrition.
Ghosts and goblins? Vampires and zombies? Yeah. They are spooky. What worries me more aren’t the things kids dress up as to knock on doors and ask for candy. I worry more about a different list; but I also watch because some of those things can be treats instead of tricks.
PS I hadn’t planned this but here’s a treat delivered by the universe. November 1 is the anniversary of the blog where I chronicle, “news for people who are eager and anxious about the future“, PretendingNotToPanic.com. I particularly rummage around for news that includes verifiable data. It helps put it all in perspective, good and bad, treat or trick.