August 26, 2020
Today, uncertainty follows us like a shadow. It enshrouds everything, and nothing is immune to its influence. Sure, we can continue to make plans, but they must be written in pencil, one rubber swipe away from last-minute changes.
Several months have gone by since this all began. Back then, I saw it as a lesson in humility. Our fast-paced world was gloating over its so-called progress whilst forewarning us that humanity as we knew it was on its way out. Artificial intelligence was to be the cause and consequence of our capacity to push our limits and, I reckon in some cases, even shatter them. At the beginning of March, I still had texts written by Harari and Miah relatively fresh in my mind:
I do not know what will come of this new flu, but the wake-up call is clearer than day: we must acknowledge our limits. Indeed, we are not yet cyborgs. It makes no difference that Harari foresees us living to 150 years or attaining immortality (or being replaced by other beings); it is irrelevant that Andy Miah is pondering over genetically enhanced “superathletes”.
Today, uncertainty abounds. The world keeps on spinning only because it cannot stop. Coming to a halt would mean certain death. Thus, each morning the cycle starts anew. After a (more or less restorative) break, the system reactivates and decisions must be made. Now, uncertainty follows us like a shadow. It enshrouds everything, and nothing is immune to its influence. Sure, we can continue to make plans, but they must be written in pencil, one rubber swipe away from last-minute changes. Nothing we seek to predict seems likely to come true. That, however, hinges on our way of looking to the future. Uncertainty is a paradox in its purest form.
I have always enjoyed making plans and I know I will continue to do so. I learn from plans; I learn from imagining what is not, because it transports me to a place where I feel at ease. That is just how it is. There, I know I will find pleasure in my predictions, in what might be and in what should be, according to me. Now, however, since the pandemic forced me to swallow my pride, I am surer than ever that I have no say whatsoever in the matter. But still, I will not cease to make plans, mind you, because I refuse to keep my imagination from soaring. That would be, without a doubt, a true death sentence.
Dear uncertainty, you have been on my radar since I first read about you. For a while now books have filled their pages with explanations about what you are, how you behave and why we should keep you in our line of sight. Truth be told, never have I felt uncomfortable accepting your presence, nor will I in the future. Looking into the past, everything is different. Behind us lie events gone by, and the little breadcrumbs they left help make your omnipresence easier to bear. Part (self-)deception, part self-fulfilling prophecy, the past serves to neutralise some of your effects.
Looking towards the horizon, I do not see things changing in the near future. I know that tomorrow may differ from today; I know that new upheavals may surface. No problem. I accept the rules of the game because, at least for now, I am unaware of any alternative. I know that I have invented my own way out, but I also know that this is a simple game offering nothing more than trivial amusement. I try to cope as best as I can, just like everyone else. I do not want to make you my enemy because what would be the sense in that? I know we get on well, even if you feel I do not always give you the time of day.
Tomorrow will not be much different from today. I know, I am fooling myself again. I have been doing this rather often recently, but everyone has to find their own way of piercing through the present. In brief, I know you are there. I do not mind; I will play the cards you deal me. No cheating. I decided it was not worth it to brush you aside a while back. So have a nice day.