My Scholarly Reflections

This is where I tell what I think, so that I see what I say

with 2 comments

Need to find some ‘big stuff’ to work on!

I’m a sucker for nutty futurist speculations.  So bear with me on this one.

A few nights ago I was watching Neal Stephenson’s talk on “getting big stuff done,” where he bemoans the lack of aggressive technological progress in the past forty or so years.  There’s obviously some debate about this, though he makes some good points.  He raises the question of why, for example, we haven’t yet built a 20km tall building despite the fact that it appears to be technologically very feasible with extant materials.  Nutty.  But an interesting question.  From a sci-fi writer.

Stephenson ends his talk on an organizational note and asks:

What is going on in the financial and management worlds that has caused us to narrow our scope and reduce our ambitions so drastically?

I like that question.  Even if you think that ambitions have not been lowered, I think all of…

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Written by Amer Khan

March 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. My thoughts:

    First, I think most of the big stuff are aggregations of lots of ‘little’ stuff. Big might be dramatic and all, but it is less prone to success as compared to the unstoppable little stuff that add up to big before we know it.

    For instance we bemoan the absence of flying cars in the 21st century, but look again at how space travel is becoming a real possibility (soon) for the general public.

    Secondly, I think we need the little things before the big ones can be done. There is the technology to make the tools/technology that is needed to make the big stuff. You can’t think of making all the different varieties of cakes and other baked goodies without the tech behind the oven, the mixer, the egg beater, etc. Once all that is in place, you can make all kinds of cakes. The requisite tech is being assembled at a very fast pace, and we are on the verge of a technological singularity once these pieces come together- IT, nano-tech, neuroscience, bio-tech. Ray Kurzweil believes the singularity will occur around 2050 or so.


    March 19, 2012 at 6:13 am

    • Thats a profound insight! its the small things that come together to make big things happen. Thanks, for jumping in and sharing you thoughts, Rod. I am fascinated with Singularity as well… actually I notice in my daily life, situations where I clearly see man and machine moving interdependently together.


      March 19, 2012 at 8:57 am

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