Peter expresses his pessimism in this article “The End of the Future” in the National Review. I disagree.
Peter’s article looks at 40 years during which half that time we became accustomed to extraordinary accelerating innovation primarily in information technology (and anything that benefits from such). 40 years is a very short amount of time. 200 years is a short amount of time. I believe we are all a tad spoiled with our expectations that have largely been biased by the past 20 year cycle of IT boom (that’s just one paradigm). This is one helluva recession. Shit happens and stuff breaks…and it should break. Steve Jobs acknowledged his firing from Apple in the 1980s as a key catalyst opening him to new opportunities including the creation of Pixar Studios and Next Computer which he ultimately sold to Apple and later returned to his baby as CEO. The rebound or next wave (or whatever you want to call it) will come from those with a fierce curiosity and nothing to lose. History has proven this over and over and there will be no shortage of these persons in the future. In fact I think there will (appear to) be more thanks to all the connectedness and efficiency innovations that got us to this point. I only say “appear to” because they have always been here, always will – but its this technology that is revealing more and more every day. Peter may become more satisfied when the standard for land or air transportation speeds safely doubles. When this occurs, like many other great innovations, will not be a gradual trend but rather something like an S curve paradigm jump. Then we can look back with “oh I get it, we are on track for exponential growth.” Or some will look back and characterize as “overnight succcess” not factoring in all the contributions that led to the aha moment. I was actually surprised to see someone like Peter with his experience and background to take the position he did. I disagree with Peter. I’d expect Ray Kurzweil and his Law of Accelerating Returns to disagree as well.
The future will be great. There will be bumps. And if it ends, so what. The kind of thing that drives us to want to solve problems to help the world is more about the journey and about RIGHT NOW, not the destination (sorry for the cliché). Because at the end, we all end up in the same place.