The human race is advancing faster than we can comprehend
Note: I wrote this piece on 31 Dec 2010. It was a response to Why isn’t the human race advancing faster? by Dustin Curtis on his Posterous blog which is now offline.
You had a thought, so you wrote it up and instantly shared it with over 20,000 people. I read your thought and decided to respond. You are now reading my thought on your thought, all the while we are thousands of miles apart. Dustin, I think the human race is advancing faster than you or I can comprehend.
To contextualise what you said, I can pull a device out of my pocket, press my finger on it a few times, and be in contact with practically any person in the world, instantly. I can access any book ever published, within 20 seconds; and I can ask it any question I can think of and get the correct answer within 30 seconds. The human race has advanced very quickly indeed.
However it is only over the last ~20 years that all this has become possible; that, in and of itself is progress. Being able to instantly share ideas, cross reference thoughts and sort through billions of files of data in seconds is an amazing feat for mankind. While these advancements are still so young, they do and will continue to serve us with the forum we need to tackle the issues which face us.
To address your point on transport costs, I use a mode of transport that would allow me to travel from SF to LA for about $2.65, which is in-line with the price of a Manhattan subway ticket. I ride an electric powered scooter which has a range of about 45Km (28 Miles) at a rate of 20¢ a charge. Admittedly the capacity of the charge is not enough to make the journey in one go but this is a clear indication of the direction transportation is taking. True innovation exists in the face of true complication, which would explain the slow but steady increase in electric vehicles. As the oil begins to deplete we will see an increase in alternative energy and thus a forced innovation in transport patterns. There is no chance I would have had an electric scooter in 1970.
Further to that, advancements in health-care and medical knowledge have doubled the World’s population since 1970.
You and I were born of the same generation. The web began as we began, it was simple when we were simple and so it is becoming more complex as we are too. In fact, you could say, we weren’t the only ones to experience those awkward pubescent years. We are the web generation, the fundamentally different web generation. No humans before us have had lives like this; it is bizarre and wonderful.
The world is advancing at an incredible rate and until we find a constant among all this change we will find it hard to funnel this power into something more unified and meaningful, a more perfect union if you will. Like any generation, we are constantly living on the cusp of the future, except I imagine our future will demand much more of us than it did our ancestors.