Tag Archives: As the Future Catches You: How Genomics and Other Forces are Changing Your Life Work Health and Wealth

Good Change; Bad Change – So Promising; So Threatening (Thoughts on the Foreclosure Crisis)

Last night, I heard quite an enlightening segment on the foreclosure crisis on The Newshour (PBS.  But, yes , I “heard” it – in my car, on KERA, our local NPR station, in its radio broadcast of The Newshour).  Here’s the description of the segment:

NATIONWIDE FORECLOSURE INVESTIGATION | Some lenders have put a temporary hold on foreclosures and state attorney generals have launched a joint investigation to sort out problems with questionable documents. Paul Solman gives details on the flawed paperwork.

Here is what struck me.  In addition to bad decisions, and what appears to be instances of outright fraud, what also happened was very rapid change in technologically empowered processes.

The technology was changing so rapidly, with electronic copies of, and transfers of, legal documents, in such massive numbers, that the cautions and protectives simply did not keep up with the technology shifts.

And I remembered back to the excellent book by Juan Enriquez, As the Future Catches You:  (How Genomics and Other Forces are Changing Your Life, Work, Health, and Wealth). Here are a couple of quotes from the book:

Many are unprepared for…  the violence and suddenness with which…   new technologies change…  Lives…  Companies…  Countries…
Technology is not kind.  It does not wait.  It does not say please.  It slams into existing systems, and often destroys them – while creating a new system.

In other words, if I can put it simply, what technology makes possible, that possibility will almost inevitably become reality.  And we fall behind in adjusting.  This is very good for innovation, but it can be very bad for protectives and cautions.

In the case of the world of big, big money, it appears that new technologies lead to great opportunities, but also to an environment of sloppiness, overwhelm, and “we can’t keep up,” all of which has resulted in serious consequences.

And when this happens, those prone to fraud come in and do more damage.

(Remember the Michael Lewis quote from The Big Short: “There were more morons than crooks, but the crooks were higher up.”)

In the report on the Newshour, the segment described how there were so many transfers of documents, so many documents shredded, so many foreclosures processed by foreclosure mills, that the bad effects could be…devastating.  (see also the editorial The Foreclosure Crises, in this morning’s New York Times).

But part of the blame is caused by this:  our simple inability to put protectives in place in the face of very rapid change – change made possible by technological innovation and advance, used by an unprepared profession.

And, if we read carefully, I think that Enriquez reminds us this will happen again, and again…

Technology is not Kind, Does Not Wait — and continues to change the world

“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.”
Winston Churchill


I’ve been thinking a lot about what has changed without us hardly noticing it – until after it has happened.

For example:

• I now read e-mail, and blog posts, and news sites, during commercials while watching television – on my iPhone.

• I never have to worry about having any of my “stuff” from my computer with me – it is available practically everywhere, on any computer, or on my iPhone.  For example, all of my book synopsis handouts are always accessible from my iPhone.

• I never have to record any appointment twice.  The whole computer cloud thingamajiggie syncs it all.  (Yes, I know that many of our readers know the right vocabulary – I just know that when I put an appointment down in my iPhone or iMac, it shows up in both places).

These are just stories of convenience.  But there are some much bigger stories, with real life significance for the way we live..  You might say that I am becoming a believer in the possibilities of technological fixes to all sorts of problems.

In SuperFreakonomcs, Levitt and Dubner describe how one Doctor, Craig Feied, combined his early love for machines (“he is a fervent early adopter – he put a fax machine in the ER and started riding a Segway when both were novelties”) turned his passion into a technological fix for the need for information for the health professionals in an emergency room.  (“The WHC emergency department had a severe case of ‘datapenia,’ or low data counts.”)  And in the process, his initiative and dogged pursuit of such technology has turned the emergency room in his hospital from the worst in his area to the best, and he is now an example of the power of technological fixes in SuperFreakonomics.

All of this made me revisit a terrific book by Juan Enriquez, As the Future Catches You:  (How Genomics and Other Forces are Changing Your Life, Work, Health, and Wealth).  He writes:

If it seems like your world has been topsy-turvy over the past few years…  Consider what’s coming.  Your genetic code will be imprinted on an ID card…  For better and worse.  Medicines will be tailored to your genes and will help prevent specific diseases for which you may be at risk…  It all starts because we are mixing apples, oranges, and floppy disks.

But this is the money quote:
Technology is not kind.  It does not wait.  It does not say please.  It slams into existing systems, and often destroys them – while creating a new system.

The creation of new systems is what today’s entrepreneurs are deeply engaged in.  We don’t know what they are developing/discovering/bringing, but what they bring will be different, I think better, and absolutely amazing.  And I believe that solutions will come to some very big problems because of the promise technology holds.