This week we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the landing on the moon. It’s a little jarring to see so many people united around something for a change. And sure there are dissenters.
But this was in the background as I thought about this remark from J.D. Vance.
“Vance gave the example of neuroscientists in Silicon Valley making more at tech companies such as Apple and Facebook to, as he put it, “addict our children to devices that warp their brains” than they do developing cures for diseases. According to Vance, libertarians aren’t concerned about that, because it is a situation produced by individual choices.”
Our technological capabilities and knowledge have grown exponentially over the intervening 50 years since Apollo 11 went to the moon, and I can’t help but think of all the untapped potential. As Peter Thiel put it, “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.”
Just to put this in perspective, Apollo astronauts navigated using a sextant, which was developed in the 18th Century. Imagine what they could have done with an iPhone!
Instead, our generations best minds are using the latest technology to distract ourselves, make us unhappy, and ruin the relationships that could lead to progress.
What will it take for us to use technology to tackle big challenges again?
Nothing motivates like a crisis or common enemy. For the most part, by most objective measures, things are good. And fortunately we’re not worried about the prospect of total annihilation by nuclear weapons.
We’re also still in the early stages of our present technological revolution. The iPhone, for example, has only been around for a decade. Its adoption has been impressive, but the innovation around it is still focused on producing returns for the venture capitalists financing the gold rush.