Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Slow Forward - or back?

Here's an interesting take on the technological revolution by Gwynne Dyer (contrarian as always!). His point is that while life was dramatically transformed by numerous new technologies introduced between the 18th century and the 1950s, since then there's only really been one transformative technology, the computer (I guess he's discounting space travel since it's not generally available, or maybe because it's irrelevant?).

He has a good point, but I wonder whether he's ignoring quantitative effects of change. Sure, planes were around in the early 20th century, but they weren't allowing huge numbers of people to wash around the world in the way they do now. 9/11 would have been impossible in the 1920's, for instance. And maybe the steady improvments in speed of communication really will result in the so-called "inflection point".

But... in the end, he does mention what may turn out to be the most important quantitative effect of technological developments on humanity. His final point talks about the coming "... drastic changes in the climate that affect everything ...".

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