Techno Futurism v. Reality

In my post titled Two Ways of Viewing the WorldI talked about two modes of looking at the world and its challenges; one which sees the world as an open question and in which limitations exist while other other sees the world as a closed question in which no limitations exist. In examining the second paradigm, I talked about how many who fall in this category at best see any talk about limitations as being annoying. One set of people who fall into this category to varying degrees are techno futurist.

Many tech titans today who fall squarely into this category and are deeply admired by all for their vision in trying to move the boundaries of what we think possible with technology. But at the end of the day as much as the most futuristic ideas might be envisioned or theorized, deep realities exist with current levels of technology and resources needed to bring these projects to fruition. A certain technology which is key in bringing an idea to life might not be very efficient because certain intermediate stages of technological development which power key components and processes in such might not be fully developed. Or, even, a demand simply might not exist for such technology!

A tendency has been to try use artificial means such as subsides (think Tesla!) to speed up the development of such technology. In many instances it can be argued that such has the opposite effect of actually slowing down the development and refinement of such technology and ends up trapping scarce resources in such industries. Some might argue that individuals who are given such aid are the only ones who know how to bring it to life and must be helped as much as possible. But looking through history, the idea of a sole person being the only person who can bring a discovery of technological development to life is questionable. For example in the 17th century, Newton in England and Leibniz in Germany both developed calculus independent  while in the 20th century Whittle in England and Ohain in Germany both independently invented the jet engine.

The conflict between the burning desire of techno futurist to push the boundaries of technology and reality is one which is always going to exist. The challenge for techno futurist is resist the urge of using artificial means to accelerate the development of technology and adopt more of an open ended question mind set because its through an open question approach that they would get the maximum collaboration from people working on similar problems. At the end of the day, the rate at which such technology is developed might even prove to be more rapid than through artificial means.