Been trying to recall the imagery of the 1980s that made me believe technological progress and innovation were not only increasing, but forever *accelerating*:
• Space shuttle
• Epcot Center
• Nintendo + SEGA
• Amusement parks
Somehow, the progress seemed unbroken through 1995.
The Concorde was a small hiccup, but other than that, all graphs were going up.
The internet ushered in a new era of discovery and connection.
Gaming systems kept doubling graphical capacity with each new console release.
9/11 really f*cked it all up.
Stuff that used to be fun and exciting—like flying—became a gigantic pain in the ass.
We started to obsess over security, an asymptotic concept.
Moore’s Law finally reached the longtail plateau of slow, incremental improvements.
The obsession with security lead to an obsession with calling out—and penalizing—anyone who didn’t dot every i and cross every t.
Lawyers and insurance agencies hollowed out every last product, adding miles of disclaimers to previously-unsullied items (like stuffed animals, ffs)
The threat of litigation is a severe deterrent, and we dove headlong into the Security State without considering the grave consequences that go with it.
Predictably, the window of innovation narrowed, as only the largest and most calcified organizations could afford compliance.
The result was an era of extreme centralization.
Ruthless mergers and acquisitions were the hallmarks, with the big players swallowing up the smaller ones like a cartoonish procession of ever-larger fish eating one another.
Even the damned internet—our shared projection of a new frontier—devoured itself to bring us the unholy FAANG overlords.
How the hell could so many vectors align to squash the unlimited progress we were promised?
It’s been 37 years since 1985.
Why the hell can’t I cross the Atlantic Ocean in 3 hours or less?
Why haven’t humans already been to Mars?
Why is NASA—the most inspiring acronym of all time—dead?
Why do cars just run hotter instead of getting 90mpg?
It’s all bullshit.
Epcot Center looks quaint and almost embarrassing now.
The future never really happened.
We crushed pioneers with a burdensome regulatory state.
We killed innovation by obsessing over Security and Safety. (This harmed family formation, too, but that’s a topic for another day.)
Today, we talk a lot about societal bifurcation—specifically, the “two Americas” that now seem incompatible with one another.
But this rift is at least 21 years old.
What we really need are 2 playing fields—high risk and low risk.
Low risk is the society we have now.
It has its perks! Life ain’t too bad, if I’m being honest.
But I have FOMO because I *know* what we’re missing!
We need a high risk OPTION for those who dare.
One where lawyers and insurance agencies aren’t welcome.
In our low risk society, the only high risk element involves MONEY.
That’s too narrow to promote outcomes that lead to expansion in 3 dimensions.
High risk producers AND consumers must “get reps in” to determine a magical future.
Without this pairing, it cannot happen!
Risk is so much larger than just capital.
It’s taking the Oregon Trail and staring death in the face.
It’s trying crazy things because no one will shut you down for running afoul of regulation [x] or legal precedent [y].
It’s doing things simply because we CAN.
Until we DO because we CAN, our world will continue to collapse on itself as it becomes consumed by its own gravity.
The hour is getting late, friends.
We must toss aside the shackles and reach for the stars, lest we NEVER have a chance to reach for them again.
How can this happen?
Perhaps the United States’ original experiment in Federalism can provide a template.
Certain states could promote these high risk economic opportunity zones.
But the forces of the status quo are unlikely to allow *anything* like that.
Time will tell!