Progress happens when you aren't looking

  • Article by: VIRGINIA POSTREL , Bloomberg News
  • Updated: December 17, 2012 - 7:48 PM

Innovation is happening, but not in the places you might expect.

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FrankLDec. 17, 12 9:10 PM

The problem is that futurists can come up with ideas that sound very plausible, but require many technological breakthroughs to make it happen. For example, there is a picture from 1908 showing the first cell phone, marrying the new invention of a telephone with another new invention of radio communication. Looks very doable, just took another 70 years to build a workable technology.

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merkinDec. 17, 1210:14 PM

"Today's cheap and easily booked flights let a lot more people fly."

And yet it's at the same speed today as it was in 1966.

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pumiceDec. 18, 1212:09 AM

From the article: "[If a few venture capitalists] convince the general public that the only worthwhile technological initiatives are splashy ventures that rate mentions in a State of the Union address, we won't have more technological progress. We'll have less." Venture capitalists don't invest in unproven technological innovations--profit's too uncertain; profit margin's too low. Venture capitalists look for the sure thing--multi-national corporations which off-shore and/or outsource American jobs, thereby assuring CEOs of profit in the short-term. Or venture capitalists acquire a small business, "turn it around" by loading it down with debt, and merge it with another business before "right-sizing" the labor force and cutting worker's pension benefits. For real innovation, though, no venture capitalist can hold a candle to banksters--banksters create innovative financial "products" and specialize in making them as risk-free as possible.

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pitythefoolsDec. 18, 12 7:29 AM

I remember the predictions of flying cars, regular space travel, domed houses to keep out the weather and underwater cities and farms on the ocean bed. I also remember the prediction that by now technology would allow for a 3 or 4 day work-week, where people could do work they enjoyed rather than any work they could find. I remember that hunger and poverty would disappear and there would be prosperity for everyone. Instead, trickle-up economics has left us with the 1% living a life of inconceivable luxury while the 99% barely hang on or continue to slide backwards. How naive the people were that made those predictions.

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naseth12Dec. 18, 1210:49 AM

pitythefools - I just finished H.G. Well's Time Machine, and it had an interestingly precient perspective on just your point.

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elind56Dec. 18, 1212:41 PM

pitythefools said: "...trickle-up economics has left us with the 1% living a life of inconceivable luxury while the 99% barely hang on or continue to slide backwards."--------------------------------Why so bitter? I'm a 99%er. Actually more like a 55%er, and we want for very little, if anything. We have a nice little house with adequate furnishings, we've never been hungry, we go out to eat now and then, vacation up north every year, and have decent vehicles that we bought when they were about 4 years old. There are times we have to circle the wagons when a large, unexpected expense pops up (new furnace a couple years ago) but that's why we never spend as much as we earn. I feel quite blessed actually. Should I spend more time looking longingly and jealously at those who have more than I? Well, I really don't have the time for that as it would interfere with my time spent enjoying what I do have.

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