Paradoxes of technological change

Paradoxically, we often find it more comfortable to believe outlandish theories of the near-future than highly logical theories rooted in clear observation of multiple converging trends. Outlandish ideas about the future flatter our pride. We like to think we are creative, that we can see things that don’t yet make sense in the normal reality of average people. Outlandish theories have another psychological attraction: Disconnected from reality, they’re usually not actionable or investable, which means professing them is a cheap way to show off one’s creativity.

Strong theories of technological change are painful to hold. They’re not impressive at cocktail parties; in fact, they are more boring than sports and weather. Though the implications may be remarkable, the theory often reduces to a collection of uncontroversial statements about uninteresting things (and to get the implication you have to work through all the boring premises).

Well-grounded theories are also terrifying to hold because their groundedness means you can usually find a way to bet on them. If you can bet on them, that means you can turn out wrong, and face negative consequences, which is stressful.

Agam Brahma @agam