Regularly in my work exploring the future and in my favorite pastime, reading history, I find that great insights come from recognizing that at some point things that have long been considered as interlocked can separate. When that happens, the results can be profound.
Below is a collection of examples of this that have happened historically, are happening, or could happen in our future. I would love to hear of more examples, please use the comment feature, below, if you would like to share some.
Food from season—with global production, new agricultural practices, better refrigeration and preservation, we can now have strawberries in winter, and so on
Religion from nationality—brought especially to focus by the American Revolution, far fewer people now live in places with an official religion
Citizenship from nationality—as more people find causes, affinities to be a part of, independent of geography
Immigration from assimilation—because migrants no longer lose touch with home, and because more people are working to celebrate ethnic diversity, protect cultural practices, and so on
Work from exercise—we exercise now as a distinct activity, since most work is no longer giving us sufficient physical activity
Sex from reproduction—since reliable contraception came along, and with changing social values
Parenting from parenthood—we have come to accept that many parents are lousy at parenting, and have given over more of parenting to the schools and the government
Data input from keyboards—with voice recognition, direct-to-text, but also with the mass of systems that capture and record data automatically
Age from behavior—more adults act like children, more children act like adults, and more old people act like they are still young
Emerging: information from label—we no longer need to print everything a consumer needs to know on a product label, not print all instructions and include them in the box—the Internet lets a consumer access far more information, in multiple format
Emerging: work from income—with the potential that US and other societies don’t need every adult in the workforce, more could restructure society to sustain people who do not work
Emerging: News from journalism—as many of us use mobiles and Internet for direct access to news from any source, vetted, or not, with or without an equivalent of the editorial hand
Emerging: Power from the grid—with point-of-use generation, e.g. solar panels, the proliferation of cordless and battery-driven devices, and emerging now with wireless (induction)
Future: Images from screens—as more content will be viewed via built-in projectors, e.g. in cell phones, and via eyepieces and eventually retinal implants
Future: Food from sustenance—with technology that would negate consumed calories or reduce nutrient/fat/sugar absorption of food we eat
Caffeine from coffee—showing that some of these decouplings are, perhaps, more trivial, but reinforcing the concept nevertheless!
I believe that recognizing decouplings may be a key to helping people focus on a change that matters. They can capture, succinctly, the nature and perhaps the meaning of a change, and are strong ways to help people understand and remember a key idea.
Please share any thoughts you like on this.
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