Speed, Accidents and Pandemics

The value of distance has been lost to speed. Throughout history distance meant a level of security and safety. Invading armies of marching foot soldiers could cover about 20 miles per day on Roman roads. A thousand miles distance between a town and an invading army equated to at least 50 days of security and time for the townspeople to either prepare a defense or flee. Historically distance was not only a protection against invading armies, but pandemics, epidemics and plagues as well. Some diseases started on one continent and took years to reach another. Speed, however, has removed this protection. It has made us all continuously contagious neighbors.

Today the world is divided into GPS coordinates surveyed by invisible drones and satellites. These and other technologies support the ability to deliver people, cargo, munition and disease anywhere in the world within minutes or even seconds. The value of distance has nearly disappeared.

Professor Paul Virilio, a sage futurist, wrote every innovation comes with a guaranteed accident. For example, you cannot create a Tesla without a Tesla crashing. Innovations and accidents are inseparable. You cannot have one without the other. The technologies that support globalization, global supply chains and air travel guarantee pandemics. You cannot have one without the other. The world has faced over 70 epidemics since 1957 and 8 pandemics. That averages one or more every year.

The data tells us that epidemics and pandemics are now guaranteed and common. We cannot move blindly forward in a global network of people, economies, supply chains and connected technologies without paying the piper. We must set-up the processes, plans, and government and economic levers necessary to live and thrive under the continuous exposure of pandemics. It is no longer acceptable to be surprised and unprepared.

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