Nothing Will Change
An essay about what will change
This essay was for my US Government class, where I was asked to talk about what would define the 2020s. It is a very broad topic, and one that is hard to actually seriously predict. We will see if this all comes true…
For the record, I am not some sort of mystic or financial analyst. I can actually be wrong sometimes, so don’t take this as financial, legal, medical, or theological advice.
Don't let the title of this essay mislead you. Before you call me naïve, let me explain myself. I do not mean that things will not happen in this decade. Nor do I mean that what will happen is normal. I mean that, throughout history, the way the world has changed has been relatively the same. It would be arrogant to assume that our times are advanced enough from those before that we will change the world in a way that man has never seen. There has only been one circumstance that changed the world in that way, and that happened 2,023 years ago.
G.K. Chesterton lays this out in his first novel The Napoleon of Notting Hill. One of the main characters, Adam Wayne, points out the timeless truth of man's progress:
"If all things are always the same, it is because they are always heroic. If all things are always the same, it is because they are always new. … No people that fight for their own city are haunted with the burden of the broken empires. Yes, O dark voice, the world is always the same, for it is always unexpected."
In every age of mankind there have always been things that were going to change the world forever. When the two Kingdoms of Egypt were united, Julius Caesar was killed, Constantinople fell to the Ottomans, and a group of old men sat down and wrote that "We hold these truths to be self-evident"—that all changed the world. If there is one thing that can be said about our time, it is that it will change the world forever. But that is not a new thing. Ultimately, man does not change.
So, what are the things that are going to define this decade, taking into account that change in and of itself is not something that will be unexpected?
The US will regain its monetary sovereignty
The first thing that I think will define this decade has to do with the Federal Reserve and US monetary policy. There are three points to this trend.
First, for the past few decades, the Federal Reserve, called the Fed, has been the main central bank for all the other central banks around the world. This means that the European Central Bank or the Bank of England, both of them central banks, apply to the Fed when they need money.
Second, the Fed has long been setting interest rates based on London's LIBOR rate. This rate is set by a group of 16 major banks around the world. This rate is set by telephone, which is interesting to say the least. In 2012, there was a scandal when a group of banks got together to rig the rates by misreporting their own rates.
The third thing is the influence Europe has on the offshore dollar market, which is the dollars traded, lent, and deposited by banks outside the US. These dollars are not regulated by the Fed and are risky investments. Most of this trading, though, is done on paper and digitally. Banks like to keep their actual dollars close to home. About 40% of all transactions around the world are in the US dollar.
These three things have combined to create a world economy that was much controlled by Europe. But this seems to be changing. The Fed has stopped accepting foreign repo debt, making it harder for other central banks to secure loans. Repo debt is basically the short-term loans banks give to each other. In the US alone, the repo provides around $3 trillion in funds a day. The Fed has also started to slowly step away from the LIBOR rate and replace it with the Secured Overnight Financing Rate, or SOFR. Finally, the refusal to accept foreign debt has resulted in a shrinking of the Eurodollar market. The Fed will only accept dollars and will not loan out dollars to foreign countries.
These three things are changing the way the US runs its monetary policy. In the long run, it will mean that the US is more independent from other countries, especially Europe. This also means that Europe might be in for an economic crisis since they will be cut off from their lifeline, that is, the United States.
In other words, we are likely to see an economic collapse in Europe that will be caused by the Federal Reserve.
We will still be talking about the Singularity
The second trend is that in 2030, we still will be talking about the Singularity, the idea that computers will become conscious, as being just around the corner. In other words, computers will not, nor ever will, take over the world. This truth comes from the very foundation that computers are built on: programming. Along with the articles predicting a new normal of computer sovereignty, all clustered around ChatGPT, there is another group of people who are saying it is all nonsense. An example of this is William Briggs, who writes on Substack. In his article “ChatGPT Only Says What It Was Told To Say”, he points out some rather obvious facts about the chatbot. One of these is about how the bot can pass the MCAT exam, to which he responds that is better pass, since “It was given all the questions and answer [sic] before the test".
The problem with computers is in the name itself. A computer can only compute and do mathematical operations. A program is just a set of instructions. A computer is only as strong as its weakest programmer. The idea that a computer can become conscious means that it will have to take on something more than just the parts it has. It will need a soul. To call a computer a man will not take a computer becoming smarter, but the definition of man being changed.
The irony is that every landmark theory of Computer Science and Mathematics goes on to defy the idea that computers can be self-sufficient. In 1930, German mathematician Kurt Gödel proved that no mathematical system could exist without assumed axioms like those every high schooler learns in geometry. Alan Turing, the so-called father of the modern computer, showed that a perfect computer, a Turing Machine, could never predict if its own program would infinitely loop or complete.
In the year 2030, there will still be computer scientists proclaiming that computers will eclipse humans. It will be like the end-of-world prophecies of Al Gore, which have never come true. If anything changes, it will be that more people will laugh at it.
We will have to define what man is
Finally, this decade will be one where we have to ask a question. In 2022, conservative commentator Matt Walsh released his documentary What Is A Woman, where he interviews different experts and politicians asking them if they know what a woman is. Surprisingly, this question was quite hard for a lot of people. This conflict over the definition of a woman begs another question: what is man? This is different from the question of what is a man, but rather, what is the definition of personhood, humanity?
This is a fundamental question that if gotten wrong can affect whole societies. It has a simple answer, but it is being questioned over and over again by the actions of people in power. The Singularity is based on the misunderstanding of what man is. They define man as a meat machine controlled by electrical impulses. They think a mechanical machine with electrical impulses can become better. Man is defined by a body and a spirit. Thomas Howard in his book Chance or the Dance? talks about the body and the spirit, giving the example of a corpse, which is inanimate and not quickened with life. Howard describes the body as needing "something that was more than itself"for it to be truly whole. In other words, a man is not the sum of his parts, he is more than that. A computer is only the sum of its parts. A computer that is smashed is still a computer, albeit broken. A man who is dead is no longer a man, but a corpse, something that will decompose.
The question of what is man is one that affects many different industries and modes of life. It is one that has to be asked by pro-life and abortion activists, by those in favor or against vaccine mandates, and by those wanting to establish a one-world government. It will be a question that I think the Supreme Court will have to make a statement on in the coming years. Different religions will also have to state, or restate, their definition of man.
Throughout human history, there have been times when society has gotten confused about what man is. The Nazis could be said to have defined man as being an Arian; the slave owners of the South as being white; the British Imperialists as being part of the British Empire. The greatest times in history have been those when man was recognized for what he is. The Emancipation Proclamation, The Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Westphalia, the Magna Carta, and the Declaration of Arbroath all have, implicitly if not explicitly, an idea that man is created in the image and likeness of God, and that he should therefore be treated with dignity.
In my opinion, while it would seem to be famous last words to predict the future, I do think that certain things will define this decade. The first is that the United States will take back its monetary sovereignty and start an economic collapse of the European Union. The second concerns the rise of advanced computing technology and how, while it might be quite beneficial and change the way we do things, will not take over and become like or more than man. The third, final, and most important thing that we will, as a society, have to face is the question of what man is and how that definition affects society.
I must remind you that I am just an 18 year old young man who is trying to figure things out. I am not a doctor, lawyer, financial advisor, or theologian. I read the doctors, lawyers, financial advisors, or theologians and try to understand what they are talking about, and then write about it. Don’t listen to me! Listen to the people I listen to.
Howard, Thomas. Chance or the Dance? Ignatius, 1969. pg. 46