Why Our Human Potential is Being Crushed by Oppressive Systems Beyond Our Control

And I’m unsure how we can fix it

Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD
4 min readApr 19, 2024
Photo courtesy of author

“How many contracts did you enter into yesterday?”

The guest lecturer, an in-house lawyer, kicked off his legal negotiation workshop with a simple question.

The classroom lit up as the students started guessing the number.





“Zero — I stayed in bed all day.”

The random numbers elicited laughter from the audience.

“Let’s conclude that we all enter into all kinds of legally enforceable contracts every single day. At least, those of us who make it out of bed.”

The lecturer then gave random examples — buying groceries, ordering food at the university cafeteria, and clicking on the terms and conditions when visiting a website.

“The list is endless — we are transactional creatures.”

I was present at the workshop to share my perspective. However, as I listened to the conversation, my mind drifted off.

Yes, we live in a transactional world — everything is now transactional. Everything we do…



Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

Prof (law) exploring the collision of life, work, and technology, with a current project in the works - a sci-fi novel.