Lenin said, “Every society is [only] three meals away from chaos.”
Generally, his theory proposes that after going hungry for a certain period of time, a group of people (a city, state, or nation perhaps) will devolve into a revolutionary panic in which the law of the jungle will prevail. Everyone for themselves, like in the classic dystopian action thriller, Mad Max. Maybe even like in Mad Max: Road Warrior. In worst case, like in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. (If you’re under 40, just Google it.)
So will the COVID-19 pandemic leave the world battling it out in the Thunderdome? I doubt it.
Science. That’s why.
I've always loved science. As preeminent astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson says, “The the good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.”
With that in mind, I predict the massive crisis we find ourselves in today will not end in chaos, but will instead push us to the edge of chaos – precisely where we need to be to grow as a species.
“Adaptation to the edge of chaos refers to the idea that many complex adaptive systems seem to intuitively evolve toward a regime near the boundary between chaos and order. Physics has shown that edge of chaos is the optimal settings for control of a system.”
In other words, complex systems such as our collective society, when pushed to the brink of chaos, can either make rapid adaptations or spectacularly collapse altogether.
A common tangible example of this is the pouring of individual grains of sand into a pile. For a period of time, the grains of sand simply build up until the slopes of the pile are so steep, the addition of even one more grain of sand could cause an avalanche to occur. However, if small adjustments (adaptations) are made to the structure of the pile, it can continue to grow without collapsing.
I believe we are rapidly approaching this edge of chaos transition period. If we are, our decisions during the next few months will be critical to our collective future.
While fear and panic are much more newsworthy than positive thinking and forward progress, I'm confident we will witness the latter in abundance. I believe that when the rubber meets the road, most people will step up and become part of the solution.
Here are 10 positive outcomes I predict we will see:
1. Pop-up, mobile, and drive-through businesses that don’t require people to get out of the car will flourish.
2. Companies will realize the massive benefits of allowing their employees to work remotely. The cost savings will be immense, and office occupancy will shrink dramatically worldwide. Many employees will never have to return to the office again. For those who enjoy and can benefit from remote-work, this will become the new norm for millions.
3. The world will learn first-hand just how many children go hungry on a daily basis – and will solve it. How? 3D printed foods. Yes, it’s real.
4. Biometric technologies such as fingerprint and palm scanners, due to their ability to transmit disease, will be replaced by contactless readers such as facial recognition devices. (Do you really want to touch everyone you see at Disney World? I thought not.)
5. Millions of people, both children and adults, will be exposed (OK, bad pun) to the benefits of online learning and will continue to utilize it long after the virus has been defeated.
6. Innovative medical technologies and treatments will be created as a result of efforts to defeat the virus. These technologies and treatments will end up curing other diseases as well.
7. Industries that are still utilizing paper will finally realize they really don’t need it and will almost completely convert to digital documentation.
8. The ability of plastic cards and cash to carry disease will drive the rapid roll-out of contactless Point of Sale (POS) systems everywhere. Payment using wearable devices will become ubiquitous.
9. Rapid advances in Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics will usher in a new era of uses, such as automated robotic sanitization of subways, sports arenas, and anywhere else large masses of people congregate. (Except Burning Man - they’re on their own.)
10. Toilet/bidet combos will be installed in all new homes. (Yes, it’s funny. No, I’m not kidding.) These devices can eliminate the need for toilet paper entirely, as they both wash and dry. Prices will decrease as technology improves. Don’t be scared. You know you want one. Check them out here.
I'd love to hear from all of you. What other positive outcomes do you think this pandemic will result in?
 Pierre, D.; et., al. (1994). "A theory for adaptation and competition applied to logistic map dynamics". Physica D. 75 (1–3): 343–360. Bibcode:1994PhyD...75..343P. doi:10.1016/0167-2789(94)90292-5