Thursday, October 11, 2018

Microstory 949: Dropping Murder Rates

I know things seem really bad right now, and I’m not going to claim you have no reason to feel uneasy, or unsafe, but believe it or not, we are making some progress. Things like King Dumpster, Brexit, and intensifying hurricanes can make the world look like a much worse place than it once was. A number of experts are actually going so far as to predict the actual real life apocalypse within our lifetimes. Sadly, in recent years, the murder rate in the United States is starting to trend upwards, but it doesn’t have to stay like that, and I predict it will swiftly drop once more. Starting in the 1990s, murder and other violent crimes began to trend downwards all over the world, and continued to do so for decades. This was caused by a number of factors, including more sophisticated means to investigation, but also possibly because of the fact that ill-prepared parents now had more options. So, what changed? Well, it’s too early to understand it, but one theory is that certain seemingly isolated incidents of corruption, like the Ferguson shooting, can increase a distrust in law enforcement. This snowballs into more and more people feeling slighted by the establishment. The election of the current administration only reinforces this division, leading to more uprisings that get out of hand. But this is not an eternal condition, and we do have a chance to make things better. First of all, we need to #votethemout when we get the chance this November, and do it again in two years. We need policymakers who care about all of their constituents, and the greater good, and aren’t just satiating their few extremely wealthy donors. We also need to invest heavily in technology. In the time travel film Looper—which is set in Kansas City, by the way—the whole reason people are sending their enemies to be executed in the past is because it’s nearly impossible to get away with murder in the future. Everyone is walking around with nanites in their systems, which alert the authorities once the body dies. Though this might not be the primary reason we use nanotechnology, it would be a nice bonus. We’ll want to have them anyway, to heal our wounds, fight off disease, and even connect us to virtual worlds. Emergency services currently relies on a victim being capable of contacting them, and do so with enough time to spare, which is not always the case, but if we had an automated system, this would not be a problem. Things can get better, but we have to work at it. We have to stop thinking of crime as something that needs to be solved, but instead of something needs to be prevented.

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