My answer to that is, yes, I believe that to be true.
Why? In short, because so many people, in such a short timeline segment of our existence, are increasingly or entirely reliable upon more and more external systems to keep them alive.
As systems become more complex, there’s greater opportunity for things to break down.
Black Swan Event
A Black Swan event is “an unforeseen event that may have catastrophic consequences”.
Though the definition reads “unforeseen”, I would add that some who are acutely alert may “foresee” a so called Black Swan (or a form of it) coming. But they have no voice of significance to warn or change what may be coming. So it’s unforeseen by the vast majority, though perhaps foreseen by a few.
One example might be some of the ‘preparedness-minded’ who are highly aware of the catastrophic consequences of a major grid-down event. If a Black Swan event occurred such as a catastrophic CME (coronal mass ejection) from the sun – zapping our power grid – it would not be unforeseen by them. But certainly unforeseen by all the rest. Why? Because most suffer from normalcy bias, or simply don’t know or care about the systemic threats around them. To them, it’s a Black Swan.
What’s worse, a Black Swan event that’s truly unforeseen by ANYONE. An event that we haven’t even thought of yet (including by those who think about such things!).
I recently read about a group of “global security experts” getting together to discuss this very issue.
Organizers said the following:
“The time has come to ask: are we doing the kind of hard-nosed vulnerability assessments that are necessary of our increasingly complex and fragile infrastructure systems?”
“How do we build fault-tolerant technological and human systems that can withstand or help us better recover from catastrophic failures caused by ‘black swan’ and ‘perfect storm’ events?”
“How do we do smart risk management in a world of sudden, unseeable and unforeseeable threats?”
“The panel will discuss how the world’s internet and AI-controlled systems will cope in the event of a black swan.”
“We take for granted that these technological systems will continue to function without interruption.”
Taking it for granted. I don’t know how many times that I have addressed this here on the blog, however it is constantly relevant. It is SO EASY to take it for granted – our modern systems that enable us to survive as we do. We figure that there’s really no risk. At least none that are significant. That’s how most people think.
But sure as I’m sitting here typing this, one day, something unforeseen is going to happen that’s going to scare the $#!& out of the masses… Or worse.
How To Be Prepared For A Black Swan Event?
How in the world do we prepare for something like that?
It’s both easy, and hard.
Easy in that it’s not difficult to start down the road of preparedness. Level 1 and Level 2 are not hard. Being prepared for weeks up to a month.
However Level 3 and beyond is where it gets challenging. This is preparedness for truly catastrophic happenings. The thing is, although seemingly unlikely, there are events that could happen – events that would require you to be prepared up to Level 3 for a reasonable chance of survival. An uncomfortable truth.
The good news is that if we’re prepared as best we can, then we will be so much better off with our chances of survival (or less pain to deal with) than most everyone else. Because most everyone else is not prepared at all.
Addressing the title of this article, “Are Black Swan events becoming increasingly likely and dangerous?” Yes, I believe though seemingly highly improbable, they actually may becoming more likely given the increasing modern technological complexities in life’s systems. And therefor more dangerous as dependence increases.
There always seems to be that one little thing that can break the big machine. I wonder what the next thing will be…