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Bill Bergeman


10 Things I Wish Would Be Obsolete in 15 Years

I started to work on @shreve01's very fine obsolescence challenge topic, but I realized the list I was making was more of a wish list rather than a list of things I actually think will be outdated in 15 years.

So, here's my list of things I wish would be obsolete in 15 years, but my guess is they won't be.

    1. Facebook.

    I do believe Facebook will eventually go the way of the dodo bird, but the process of rolling back several billion people into a new platform (which is ultimately what it will take) is going to take longer than 15 years.

    2. Cubicles.

    I really, truly thought COVID would have changed the game when it came to remote work, but it's only moved the needle slightly. Most people are back to regular 9-5 schedules in big box buildings sitting in cubicles they hate next to people they sometimes hate even more.

    3. Student Loans.

    What Biden just enacted, while helpful, is at best a short-term band-aide. Check back in five years, much less 15 years, and there will be an ever greater outcry for more debt relief because the funding mechanism for overpriced higher-education degrees has not changed.

    So long as the federal government continues to dole out hundreds of thousands of dollars to naïve teenagers with the promise of an ostensibly better life through higher education, colleges have zero incentive to reign in costs. It's just gonna get worse, folks.

    4. Government Mass Surveillance.

    I've yet to be persuaded, 21 years after 9/11, that the NSA reading my emails and tracking my phone records (not to mention taking my shoes off at the airport, but that's a separate topic) is keeping me safe from would-be terrorists.

    5. Social Security Numbers.

    This applies to the United States, though my understanding is that similar systems exist in other Western countries.

    Imagine the President of the United States goes on national television and proposes a new program. The government is going to assign every citizen, as well as new citizens at birth, a number. They are going to use that number to track you across your life, notably your work history. In return, if you're lucky, you'll get a few measly hundred dollars a month after age 62.

    If that happened, there would be a revolution in the United States. Yet it happened back in the 30s, and we just live with it today. What's worse, many private entities, often financial institutions, won't let you engage with them unless you willingly let them track you with that same number. This is the stuff of dystopian societies, but most people just shrug their shoulders like it's no big deal.

    6. NFL Games Ending in a Tie.

    Let them play until someone wins!

    7. The 40-Hour Work Week.

    There's nothing magical about working eight hours a day, 40 hours a week. It's made up. Most people either need more time to do their work or a lot less. The law, when enacted, made sense. Most people were overworked and had no say in how they were treated or paid by their employers. It was only a notch better than actual slavery.

    However, we are in a very different environment now and we need a different approach to our relationship with work. Let people work as much as they need/want to work, be it 10 hours or 80 hours a week, so long as they are effective, and pay them appropriately for their value. Is that so crazy?

    8. Fossil Fuel Vehicles.

    Vehicles powered by fossil fuels will eventually (and should) fade out; however, the reduction will be slow, no matter what governments try to enforce (see California). Like all changes, the move to majority alternative-fuel vehicle usage will be driven by economics. When alternatives to the internal combustion engine are cheaper and more effective, people will use them.

    Will the technology be ready in 15 years? Possibly, but I'm dubious, because looking at the last 15 years we can see the progress has been modest.

    9. Income Tax (taxing people on their productivity).

    This is rainbow and unicorn thinking, but I believe a VAT would be radically better for everyone than an income tax. But, this will never happen in the U.S.

    10. Bickering in Politics.


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