Jan Vijg, "The American Technological Challenge: Stagnation and Decline in the 21st Century"
English | ISBN: 0875868851, 087586886X | 2011 | 260 pages | PDF | 2 MB
Most people would characterize the dawn of the 21st century as the age of technological progress par excellence. If you are one of them, then, think again. While our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents witnessed life-changing inventions every decade, very little major new technology has seen the light of day over the last half century. We find ourselves in the midst of a technology slowdown! This book is about the causes and consequences of technology slowdowns, which are not unique but recurrent events in human history. They occur not in times of upheaval, when violent interstate conflicts are the order of the day. Such periods foster innovation and allow major, breakthrough inventions to be adopted quickly. Instead, innovation seriously stalls in times that are peaceful, when governments reign supreme and citizens are encapsulated by layers of benign regulation to protect them against all possible harm. We find ourselves in the best of times. The long period of bloody combat that characterized so much of the 20th century has finally ended. Violent conflicts between states are minimal and conditions for almost everyone on the planet are on an upswing, with poverty on the decline and life expectancy and literacy increasing. Responsible government and industry leaders have begun to refrain from risky bets on exciting new exploits and the time of grand projects, such as the Eisenhower Interstate System, the Moon Landing Program or the development of the internet is behind us. Instead, we have to make do with incremental improvements of existing technology, catch-up programs in developing countries and social programs. The consequences are stalling wealth generation and an end to the dramatic changes society has undergone since the industrial revolution now more than 200 years ago. The book is intended for an educated, general audience. It provides basic information about the process of invention, the current status of major areas of technology development and the reasons for a decline in progress. An important part of the book is a discussion of the intricate relationship of humans with technology, how technology gave rise to the first successful human societies and the factors that time and again determined why technology would flourish and why it would stall.
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