Remember when computers came out in the early 70s? I do not, sorry. I’m a byproduct of those times. However, ever since, the predominant theory was that computers would be the key to solving many of mankind’s problems. And fair enough, many got solved. But as computers got more capable, naturally the bar has been raised higher. The same could not be said about the problem solving aspects. It seems that gradually we’re distancing ourselves from what we wanted technology to be. Too many of us don’t notice how this fact has slipped away.
Today, acceptably, people die of cancer, AIDS, actually scratch that, to go global, more often die of hunger and mosquito bites. We also don’t travel in space all that much or all that far. We still kill each other a lot, too. To sound less dramatic it’s 2012 and we can’t cure the generic cold though we have Viagra figured out. We also have a range of antidepressants should these facts depress us.
Do not get the wrong message, le vie on rose is the wrong theory and it’s never about the fairness of the game either, but we really had higher, or say different, hopes of technology.
Is it really key to have at our evolutionary core stages like Facebook, Instagram or Draw Something? Is this extreme social/viral/money infused era a must? I love and admire the force of social startups (myself being a vocal entrepreneur) but are these valuations pointing out to serious problems? I do not have an answer and true breakthroughs are rarely predicted. I just point out the discrepancy.
To go a level higher, the social wave is in fact not the fire starter here but just the enthusiastic cover. Where a lot of the raw talent is derailed early in their lives is in the brilliant hands of the world of finance. Why stick to research or open innovation when you can make $400k/year fairly fast at a hedge fund? Your soon-to-be-married-to girlfriend means a family shortly after. Simple biological instincts tell me you will argue passionately for your kids to have access to the best schooling possible and with that comes a full entourage of high end expenses. Last but not least you and your working wife will be constantly facing the peer pressure so you’re now in a fairly sophisticated financial stall. And I respect the world of finance conceptually since sometimes actually does improve the world when greed can be surpassed.
In this sense, the Silicon Valley residents have always been luckier. The Big Apple zone is clearly dominated by the financial sector which acts as a barrier to innovations outside the field.
To conclude, would like to observe two aspects. There’s a true possibility that investors have generally given up hope on big vision startups and projects. Best to leave these to Elon Musk, Bill Gates and the few others who march ahead through the dense forest. It’s an unpleasant marathon sprayed with little to no instant gratification. With some luck, we might get Mark Zuckerberg to join this force too.
And then, there’s the other reality that young minds have given up on the overwhelming challenge of advancing complex survival problems and have instead bent for more tempting and easier to reach goals. Society with its legal and political infrastructure is responsible here.
To be optimistic, I do realize that these could be perfectly normal stages of our technological evolution and eventually may turn big advantages in the fore mentioned fields.
However, there could also be the grim side that there really isn’t much hope for us these days. Technology truly is the biggest gift that mankind ever got. Should we need to defend our own extinction, that’s the only gun we have. Yet we’re pointing it at each other.