Welcome to Throw Forward Thursdays, where we have a look at something that might happen in the future. I’m sure you know that most Thursdays, we are really upbeat and optimistic. We love the future, and we love the possibilities that are emerging. But today, I want to tell you something that scares me, and it might scare you. It’s solar flare.
Every moment of the day, the sun is giving off amazing warmth, and energy, and light and obviously a huge feature in our world. But along with that, every now and again, the sun lets off a massive burst of high energy radiation, in what is called the solar flare and shooting out into the space. The beam of radiation goes now. Every now and again, one of those passes through the Earth, and we can experience it. Although we don’t normally feel it, we can experience it’s a sort of an extra hot day or, you know, the sounds a little bit bright today. There’s lots of reasons that that happens, not just solar flare. But the radiation that can come from the sun, if the solar flare is big enough, can cause an electromagnetic pulse. If you know anything about computers, you’ll know that magnets and massive amounts of electricity are not good for computers. Too much electricity, too much voltage through a system will fry the computer, cause it to overheat and to literally melt down, and then everything on that computer is done for. And magnetism is really bad for any electronic devices because it rearranges the electrons in the system.
I’m not speaking as a scientist here, but it rearranges the electrons, and that can basically cause hard drives to be scrambled and the coding in a computer to be completely, basically rewritten, scrambled and made useless. So, here’s the thing. I’m scared about what happens if we have a really big, significant solar flair and basically, all the world’s computers are wiped out. Imagine you wake up in every computing device is not working. I mean, this is every electronic and digital device in your home just no longer works. You’re not going to get water or electricity. The phone system is not going to work, the Internet will be down, the banks. Imagine every bank account gets put back to zero. Well, some of you in overdraft, so that’s not a problem.
The list of things can go on now. It’s not as scary as that in reality, because a lot of people have been thinking about this. A lot of computers have been shielded from electromagnetic pulses and solar flares, and a lot of our actual, physical infrastructure is more robust than that. But this is a significant danger and a significant problem if it happens. Is there anything we can do about it? Well probably not, and unfortunately, the sun has a cycle of activity that sort of builds up over time. Scientists still trying to work out exactly how this cycle works, but apparently, we are due for a big one soon, just like San Francisco is waiting for their big earthquake, which is a few years over, date or overdue. We apparently are waiting for a fairly significant solar flare and it’s overdue.
I don’t want to scare you, but our world is fragile, it’s fragile in many ways. The physical ecosystem is fragile. The waterways of our world are a fragile. The weather system we’re beginning to realise is more fragile than we initially thought. And the things we’ve built, are fragile too, especially our digital world.
Is there anything to do about this? Probably not, except to just realise that there are potential things in the future that could change everything, change life as we know it. And as much as I try to be optimistic every week, every now and again, I’m going to throw in one of these. I don’t mean to scare you, but we need to be thinking that the future is fragile and could go wrong.
Happy Thursday. I hope you enjoyed the few minutes with us in the Throw Forward Thursday studio. As always, don’t forget that we now have the opportunity for you to contribute by asking us questions or giving us ideas for future episodes. Just go to ask about the future dot com all one word, askaboutthefuture.com. And you see, it’s very easy to just leave your question about the future or your suggestion for a future episode.
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And if you’re listening on the podcast to make sure that you subscribe to Graeme Codrington’s Future of Work podcast, we’d love to have you along on that platform as well. Otherwise, I’ll see you next Thursday for another trip into the future.
Graeme Codrington, is an internationally recognized futurist, specializing in the future of work. He helps organizations understand the forces that will shape our lives in the next ten years, and how we can respond in order to confidently stay ahead of change. Chat to us about booking Graeme to help you Re-Imagine and upgrade your thinking to identify the emerging opportunities in your industry.
For the past two decades, Graeme has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands, travelling to over 80 countries in total, and speaking to around 100,000 people every year. He is the author of 5 best-selling books, and on faculty at 5 top global business schools.