At one point in my travels, I worked in consulting with a few different organizations.

I spent a fair amount of time with customer value analysis – the relative perceived value of things – for corporations. And, I did some work in “futuring” – essentially the analysis of substantial trends (that if continued on a powerful growth trajectory) would shape how we live our lives.

Well, if you haven’t been paying attention, know this – the winds of change are not merely blowing; they’re howling with an urgency that beckons our utmost attention. As we navigate the uncharted waters of societal shifts – the forces of victimhood, the pursuit of certainty, and the eruption of AI technologies (like deep fakes) are converging at a rapid pace. And the inevitable outcome? A steep rise in violence, chaos, and discord, in the physical world and in the digital domain.

First, let’s discuss the troubling shift from personal responsibility to victimhood. Not so long ago, the bedrock of societal values included a focus on personal accountability. Fast forward to today, and what we see is a move away from owning one’s actions, to a cultural dynamic where people pass the buck and lay blame on external factors. This erosion of personal responsibility has been vividly demonstrated by the cancel culture, where social media campaigns can destroy lives based on unproven allegations or minor infractions made to be something unforgivable by the unhinged, virtue signaling masses. As a society, we’re at risk of undermining justice, conflating feelings with facts, and deteriorating into a kind of dangerous tribalism. These are not just philosophical issues; they are triggers for real-world violence, as illustrated by the riots and violent protests we’ve witnessed in the past years.

Next, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how the human need for certainty can lead to a willingness to compromise our freedoms. Lockdowns and other severe restrictions became the norm, as the world collectively held its breath. The outcome? An exacerbation of mental health issues and a surge in domestic violence globally. The politics of fear that polarized nations led to confrontations and clashes.

Now, layer this complex social milieu with the emerging force of AI technologies, particularly deep fakes. We are fast approaching an era where lies will not just be indistinguishable from truth; they will be more compelling than truth. Governments, corporations, and even criminal syndicates will weaponize AI to manipulate public opinion and behavior. Imagine the kind of violence we’ve seen amplified a hundredfold when deep fakes become indistinguishable from reality – and no one knows how to uncover the truth.

So, what happens when these societal forces collide?

We all end up with a landscape ripe for violence. People, desperate for certainty, are more susceptible to the manipulative narratives spun by advanced AI. The victim mentality dramatically feeds into this susceptibility, further obfuscating personal responsibility. And as these manipulated narratives spread like wildfire, they become catalysts for real-world violence and discord – especially in widely digitized societies where lies can be transmitted at the speed of thought.

It’s crucial, now more than ever, to gear up for these forthcoming challenges.

Ignorance won’t be bliss; it will be outright dangerous.

If ever there was a time to shake off complacency and rise to meet these challenges head-on, it’s now.

Consider this your wake-up call. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Prepare, because ready or not, the storm is coming.

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