Posted by Lexington Green on February 23rd, 2013 (All posts by Lexington Green)
3D printers, driverless cars, nanotech: the 21st century looks to be even more different from the 20th century than the 20th was from the 19th. American politics and institutions are going to change much more rapidly than most pundits and politicos can yet understand.
This quote is uncannily congruent the argument of the forthcoming book, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century – Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come by Jim Bennett and me.
Walter Russell Mead’s wicked good blog Via Meadia has many posts which track closely with the arguments Jim and I are making. I am sure all this great material will end up in a forthcoming book by him about the demise of the Blue Model (a term he invented) and what is coming next.
I am going to shamelessly recycle this: “the 21st century looks to be even more different from the 20th century than the 20th was from the 19th.” This is a very pithy observation which captures our vision of America 3.0, which of course we cannot really predict with a lot of detail. As Bruce Sterling wisely said:
Nothing obsolesces like “the future.” Nothing burns out quite so quickly as a high tech avant-garde. Technology doesn’t glide into the streamlined world of tomorrow. It jolts and limps, all crutches and stilts, just like its ancient patron, the god Hephaestos.
Still, we have to imagine the future, not so we will be correct then, but so we can plan, think, and act now. We also have to imagine the future so we don’t think today’s setbacks, as serious as they may be, are the apocalypse. Everyone reading this will be dead in 100 years, but our descendants will be alive, and they will have in part what we passed on to them. They will see us as living in a patch of history with a label and summed up in a few paragraphs. This is a phase, as is every other period in history.
I will confidently predict, as Mead does, that the pace of change will be faster than ever before. Moore’s Law will be in force for a long time to come, I hope.
What is particularly cool about the Mead quote, almost suggesting some kind of brain-meld via the astral plane between Mead and Bennett-Lotus, is the reference to “3D printers, driverless cars, nanotech” — each of these figure prominently in our first Chapter, America in 2040. One muse, three authors?
If you have not read Mead’s two excellent books, Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World and God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World, you must do so. Get them soon, so you are done before our book comes out May 28, 2013.