A belated Happy New Year, and what better way to start off 2024 than by this reminder that quite a lot of what’s holding us back in the world is political will and societal coordination.

Abstract and imaginative illustration showcasing a dramatic contrast between technological advancement and societal challenges. On one side, a surreal, technologically advanced cityscape with whimsical structures and futuristic elements is depicted. On the other side, diverse individuals are portrayed with exaggerated expressions and unique, fantastical clothing, set against a backdrop of abstract forms and symbols.
I remember growing up with that same old adage of how you could be the next scientist to invent a cure for cancer, or a solution to climate change, or whatever. What they don’t tell you is that we already have solutions for a lot of problems, we just don’t use them. Sometimes this is because the solution is too expensive, but usually it’s because competing interests create a tragedy of the commons. Most problems in the modern age aren’t complicated engineering problems, they’re the same problem: coordination failure.


We actually have a cure for blood cancer now, by the way. Like, we’ve done it. It’s likely that a similar form of immunotherapy will generalize to most forms of cancer. Unfortunately, the only approved gene therapy we have is for sickle-cell disease and costs $2 million per patient, so most people in America simply assume they will never be able to afford any of these treatments, even if they were dying of cancer, because insurance will never cover it. This is actually really bad, because if nobody can afford the treatment, then biotech companies won’t bother investing into it, because it’s not profitable! We have built a society that can’t properly incentivize CURING CANCER. This is despite the fact that socialized healthcare is a proven effective strategy (as long as the government doesn’t sabotage it). We could fix this, we just don’t.


It’s January 1st of the new year, and with all these people wishing each other a “better year”, I am here to remind you that it will only get worse unless we do something. Society getting worse is not something you are hallucinating. It cannot be fixed by you biking to work, or winning the lottery. We are running on the fumes of our wild technological progress of the past 100 years, and our inability to build social systems that can cooperate will destroy civilization as we know it, unless we do something about it.

Source: We Could Fix Everything, We Just Don’t | Erik McClure

Image: DALL-E 3