In recent years, I have been reflecting on the technological advancements that have shaped our world. A list from the History Channel about seven inventions during the Gilded Age that changed the world reminded me of a commentary I did a dozen years ago based upon Mark Steyn’s book, After America.
The commentary had us imagine what it would be like to bring our great-grandfather living in the late 19th century to an ordinary American home in 1950. The poor gentleman would be astonished by the mechanical contraptions in this home. There would be a huge machine in the corner of the kitchen, full of food and keeping milk fresh and cold. He would hear an orchestra playing somewhere and then discover it came from a tiny box on the kitchen countertop.
He would look out the window and see a metal conveyance coming down the street at an incredible speed. It’s enclosed with doors and windows, like a house on wheels. There are lots of these things called cars, but not a horse or horse-drawn carriage in sight. It’s amazing to think how much technology has advanced since then!
But now imagine you could send someone from 1950 to our world today. I think they would be disappointed by how little has changed since then. Sure, there are computers and smartphones now, but I imagine that he would have expected more changes than he found. Most of the remarkable changes took place over a hundred years ago!
Why did much of our technology reach a plateau? Physics and politics are two reasons for this stagnation in innovation. We can dream of flying cars, time machines, and teleporting devices, but there are physical limits that prevent them from being created. Additionally, government regulations make it much more difficult for inventors and entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to life. It is time to roll back government interference so that we can continue innovating without restrictions!