The Examined Year: 2021

Sunday, December 26, 2021

What Is It

What happened over the past 12 months that challenged our assumptions and made us think about things in new ways?

  • The Year in Political Insurrection with former co-host and current Stanford Dean Debra Satz 
  • The Year in Space Tourism with Brian Green from Santa Clara University, author of Space Ethics
  • The Year in the Post-Pandemic Workplace with Quill Kukla from Georgetown University, author of City Living: How Urban Spaces and Urban Dwellers Make One Another

Comments (1)

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Monday, November 8, 2021 -- 6:33 AM

The persistent western

The persistent western drought, water shortages, heat dome in the Pacific Northwest, Hurricanes Ida/Henri, the flash flooding in Tennesee, the bootleg and dixie fires, yeah, the environment continues to weigh heavily on my thinking. Environmental destruction, pollution, and habitat reduction continue to be a problem with no real plan for a slow down either.

The disingenuous and political nature of the push back on decided precedent on abortion, kids/families at the border (still an issue), along with the college admissions scandals, as well as the epidemic homelessness, has me thinking about personhood and identity. Brittney Spears makes me think about how I impinge on the lives of young adults who need autonomy (perhaps sooner and more broadly.)

The ethics around work issues, mask-wearing, when and where to get a shot, working from home, keeping work-life boundaries, and reaching out to family and neighbors again, have pushed my thinking.

How we make decisions, gerrymandering, voter rights, ranked voting, the recount in Arizona – both real and cyber ninja'd have me reaching for new ideas for the public process.

Liberty and Justice have been on my mind due to gun violence in my neighborhood – essentially gang-related, and, of course, the attack on the capital. When is it OK to carry a gun?, when is it OK to use it? Kyle Rittenhouse has my mind thinking about vigilantism, if I should up my self-defense, and is it time to Refund the Police. Rethinking police forces has not happened fast enough.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and What's App have me thinking about mis/disinformation. Who can I trust? Not just in the US but the world. The Chinese lockdown of the media, repression in Hong Kong, and pressure on Taiwan have me worried.

The push of Covid biological research to pre-prints, closed public libraries, defunding of general science, and overall poor public access to current research/information and data has me concerned. Science, in general, has been poorly communicated to the masses, causing a lack of trust and confusion.

Emotions research continues to have a philosophical disagreement on whether emotions have physical essence or are constructed. This fundamental philosophical divide is not getting enough thought and has a real impact on our public lives as well as billions of dollars of AI research at stake if we get this wrong.

The mind/brain debate has been stalled. However, the issues of where our consciousness resides in our bodies still take much of my time reading and thinking about the impacts of all the above problems, and impact my thought about identity and artificial intelligence.

Finally, property rights are an issue for me on an intellectual, personal, and civic front. Loss of IP to China and Russia has cut our ability to protect our business and human rights in the world at large. The trash in our streets, houseless encampments, and property crimes as a form of political speech are hard to fathom, but I face and think about these pretty much every day in my experience.

All this is is just the positive stuff. I'm saving the more depressing thoughts for others to chime in.

All kidding aside, I'm pretty happy working from home. My family life is different but better overall. If we could lock down some positives for all citizens, it could make for a very interesting 2022. Extending Justice, liberty, and equity will go a long way to bridging climate, business, and political concerns.

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