Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Big innovations and small: Neal Stephenson @ Solve for X


While the subject of Neal Stephenson's speech is our culture appears to be moving away from big innovations (increasingly taller buildings, space exploration, faster jets, constantly pushing the limit of what's physically possible etc.), what really struck me the second time I watched the video was his prediction that, a hundred years from now, 99% of the population might believe the moon landings were faked. People who know otherwise would be marginalized as "conspiracy theorists" in such a scenario.

That's a pretty dark vision of the future if you ask me.

For the record, I don't think that will happen. Certainly not in the next hundred years. Feasible? Sure. I'll give him that. Nonetheless, the statement illustrates an important point. As Stephenson puts it: there are people actively trying to make that kind of future a reality. Maybe engineering big things will be sufficient enough monuments to remind people why human achievement matters and why real science should be trusted. Maybe not. Either way, it's some interesting stuff to think about.

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