If nothing else, 2023 was stirring. The Earth unleashed a devastating earthquake in Turkey-Syria, wildfires raged in Hawaii and Canada, and record rain displaced millions of people in northeastern China. The wars between Ukraine/Russia and Israel/Hamas only added to destruction and loss of lives. The Titan submersible tragedy became a flashpoint for growing resentment due to wealth inequality. Nations struggled to govern with Jair Bolsonaro supporters storming the Brazilian Congress, the outcry of an Australian Indigenous Voice referendum, Portugal's Socialist Prime Minister's resignation amid a broad corruption probe, fifteen rounds to elect the U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives who was later ousted, a U.S. Senator threatened a union president with physical violence during a Senate hearing, and a former U.S. President was criminally indicted. Fox News was exposed as knowing the stolen presidential election was a hoax. Historical divides between labor and management manifested as Hollywood writers/actors and United Auto Workers went on strike. Financial confidence was shaken when Silicon Valley Bank and First Republic Bank collapsed. WeWork filed for bankruptcy in an already turbulent commercial real estate market.
2023 had its moments to celebrate as more electric cars are on the road than ever before. Inflation started to come down, and global income inequality sunk to its lowest level in 150 years. The E.U. outlawed three pesticides harmful to bees. Solar power expanded as green energy made additional strides by demonstrating net energy gains in fusion energy experiments. Fossil fuel use in the E.U. hit a record low. ChatGPT initiated the beginnings of an AI revolution. Germany returned 1,100 Benin Bronze statues seized in 1897 to “right a wrong” from colonial history, while a Houston museum returned a looted sarcophagus to Egypt. Although some regions returned to COVID-19 restrictions, vaccines saved millions of lives. To enable all children to see themselves in Barbie, Mattel launched a Barbie with Down Syndrome, and the Barbie movie featured a Barbie using a wheelchair and another wearing a hijab. There was more evidence of societal progress for greater inclusion as the Griffith Design Café invited participants with disabilities to work alongside designers, engineers, and occupational therapists to design, develop, and share solutions (including CAD models) to the daily challenges people face.
Reflecting on the recent past is alive in the lab.