Recently, I came across an article from the History Channel that highlighted seven inventions from the Gilded Age that transformed the world. This reminded me of a comment I made ten years ago based on Mark Stein’s book, After America. The book made us imagine what it would be like to bring our great-grandfather who lived in the late 19th century into an ordinary American house in 1950. The poor gentleman would be amazed at how much had changed since his time.
He would see a home full of mechanical gadgets, with a huge machine in the kitchen that kept food fresh and cold, and an orchestra playing music coming from a little box on the counter. He would look out the window and see metal transporters barreling down the street at incredible speeds, all fenced with doors and windows, and he wouldn’t see any horses or horse-drawn carriages anywhere.
Now imagine someone from 1950 being sent into our world today. They would likely be disappointed as not much has changed since then. Sure, there are computers and smartphones now, but they might have expected more progress than they found. Most of the remarkable changes took place over a hundred years ago.
The question is why has much of our technology plateaued? There are several reasons for this, including physics and politics. While we can dream of flying cars, time machines, and teleportation devices, there are physical limitations that prevent their creation. Another reason is politics and bureaucratic regulations that make it harder for inventors and entrepreneurs to innovate and bring new ideas to life.
It’s time for us to shrink the size of government that stifles innovation and imagination so that we can continue to advance technology in ways that benefit everyone’s lives.