Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Is Progress Slowing?

There's been a recent discussion at The Corner on whether progress is slowing. As far as I can tell, progress in consumer goods came to a halt between the late 1950s (color TV) and the early 1970s (microwave ovens and pocket calculators). Since then, it has resumed.

The halt might have been due to the “space age.” When cutting-edge scientists all worked on one particular project, innovation elsewhere suffered.

Government subsidies in general might also be a reason for the slowdown. There have been a number of SF-type technologies which were supposed to have made a tremendous difference and even seemed to be moving ahead faster than expected for a while but somehow didn't pan out. These included spaceflight, nuclear energy, and artificial intelligence. If we look at what they all have in common we see that they have all received very large government subsidies. This can't be a coincidence. Maybe subsidizing a technology causes it to become bloated and overpriced.


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