A persistent twist that has always been in our nature is an over-appreciation of the obvious, and an under-appreciation of the reasoned. Our technology is moving at such a pace that this imbalance is becoming stark in our purchasing, our politics, and our decision-making. While everyday people continue to weight local optimums over global ones, our dilemma of many prisoners continues in its sometimes stuttering, awkward fashion.
In capitalist countries, professions that provide long-term benefits that are fiscally unclear, such as teaching, bear the brunt of our mistake, while transactional professions, such as investment banking, law, and medicine, see great reward. One exception to this behavior is when we tie our purchasing to scarce ideals or saviors – rare entities we see as essential to a positive future, such as talented executives, popular visionaries, and owners of some ‘truth’ (like best-selling non-fiction authors, radio hosts, and religious leaders). Apart from these, we are fairly consistent.
While our lack of intuition for the unclear lags behind us, it leaves untouched a multitude of opportunities for entrepreneurs and thinkers:
- What aspects of our lives could be improved by appealing to the short-term impulse in order to reach long-term goals?
- What profits can be made by arbitraging others’ unwillingness to invest in that which they cannot see?
- How can we better reach our world’s ‘unclear’ goals – sustainability, health, prosperity, equality, freedom, access, education, information, self-fulfillment – by harnessing the short-term impulse in the way that we govern / purchase / make decisions?