Despite the Corbyn and Trump surges the status quo may still win outby Jay Elwes / February 5, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more on technology: Are only poets safe from robots?
Consider this—the ASCI Red supercomputer, developed by the US government in 1997, used a 333 megahertz processor. That meant that its central processor was capable of a frequency of 333 X 106 hertz. By contrast, an Apple iPhone 5, such as you may have in your pocket, contains a processor with a frequency of 1.3 gigahertz—that is, 1.3 X 109 hertz, or just over four times the processor speed.
Human progress is rocketing forward, lending our age a sense of great acceleration. Things happen faster now and this speeding-up of the spread of information has brought huge changes in cultural life, in commerce and also in science.
It has also coincided with a remarkable upsurge in political volatility. Consider the speed with which political views and events are transmitted by social media and the enormous speed with which political ideas—and politicians themselves—can attain prominence. There have been demagogues before. Hotheads are nothing new. The speed with which they can make their mark, however, is something unique to our own age.
Consider the growth in popularity of Donald Trump and the speed with which he came from political zero to contest the Republican nomination for the presidency. Consider also the speed with which Jeremy Corbyn who, like his predecessor Ed Miliband, rose without trace to grab the Labour leadership. Consider the speed with which Labour was wiped out in Scotland and the SNP was returned as the only political party even close to holding power. Consider the colossal speed with which Nick Clegg was shot into the political stratosphere—the Deputy Prime Ministership—and the electoral tail-spin that followed. Elsewhere, consider the sudden rise of Marine Le Pen way above the levels of popularity enjoyed by her father. Consider Podemos, and Pegida, and Golden Dawn and the rest.
These examples represent a huge variety of political views—but what they share is the speed with which their political moment has come, or gone. Politics has tended to work in cycles that are decades in length, but in some of the examples given above, sudden, radical change has come in…