On Mistaking a 50 Year Trend for a 10 Year Trend

Sometimes it’s good to feel a little jaded when presented with ideas that are unlikely to pan out. Other times, we genuinely underestimate the progress of the future. But in the middle of the extremes, there are GOOD ideas for which we have not correctly calibrated our expectations.

Not Talking About Bad Ideas

This should not stop the debate between WHETHER a concept will have a place in our future. Extraordinary claims are often completely wrong. My biggest pet peeve when someone presents a hypothetical technology is their failure to realize that the tech is comparatively inferior to other tech that fulfills the same purpose. For example, and Earth space elevator is very likely to be more capital-intensive than an orbital catcher system. Yet, if we build the orbital catcher system, we will find that a space elevator would have inferior metrics. In that case, the Earth space elevator will not be built, not in 100 years, not in 1,000 years, not until protons decay or the heat death of the universe.

Ideas That Get Better With Time

I think that a Mars colony is a great idea that we will achieve, but I also think it’s the quintessential long-term-idea with a short-term timeframe put on it. As time passes, we have more opportunities to tackle the problems of the big first step into orbit, and the greater the chances that some innovators come up with solutions to the reusability problem therein. There is a catch 22 between investment in innovation in the area and weak demand for launch services. Nonetheless, given time, solutions will eventually present themselves even if the investment goes into various forms of stasis and life support. The power of the idea behind the long-game can see it through at some point.

The Surprise Tech and the Kurzweil Fallacy

Landing on the moon was a moment of the triumph of technology over expectations, but it maintains such a looming picture in our cultural memory that it leads us now to a common fallacy. The skeptics were not just wrong, but deeply wrong, but some of them were wrong for the right reasons. The space race gave an extraordinary motivation, and along with it came extraordinary support of the goal.

Obligatory analytical writing, online participation account for Medium. Engineering, software, books, space, constant daydreaming.

Obligatory analytical writing, online participation account for Medium. Engineering, software, books, space, constant daydreaming.