Techno-Optimism and the Rule-of-Threes

Historically, periods of mass flourishing are underpinned by technological revolutions. Currently, we are undergoing a technological revolution unlike anything the world has ever seen.

We have evidence, hidden in plain sight, that the world is poised for another of history’s rare “mass flourishings,” to use the expression by Nobel economist Edmund Phelps. That evidence is not found in any single headline-grabbing invention, or the stock value of any single company, but is visible instead in the pattern of technological revolutions.

It’s the same pattern that ignited the great economic acceleration of the 20th century, which was not the consequence of any one invention. It was not just the car, the telephone, the radio, the electric light, or motor alone that so radically changed the world of that century. Instead, it was the incendiary effect of all of that happening simultaneously. And, critically, it was the contemporaneous maturation — not just the invention — of those technologies. And the fact that those advances occurred in each of the three foundational spheres of technology that make civilization possible: the means for gathering and propagating information, the means (machines) of production, and the class of materials available to do everything.

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