The Fourth Industrial Revolution
What It Means and How to Respond
How to Make Almost Anything
The Digital Fabrication Revolution
As Objects Go Online
The Promise (and Pitfalls) of the Internet of Things
The Rise of Big Data
How It's Changing the Way We Think About the World
The Mobile-Finance Revolution
How Cell Phones Can Spur Development
Biology's Brave New World
The Promise and Perils of the Synbio Revolution
The Robots Are Coming
How Technological Breakthroughs Will Transform Everyday Life
New World Order
Labor, Capital, and Ideas in the Power Law Economy
Will Humans Go the Way of Horses?
Labor in the Second Machine Age
Same as It Ever Was
Why the Techno-optimists Are Wrong
The Future of Cities
The Internet of Everything will Change How We Live
The Coming Robot Dystopia
All Too Inhuman
The Political Power of Social Media
Technology, the Public Sphere, and Political Change
From Innovation to Revolution
Do Social Media Make Protests Possible?
The Next Safety Net
Social Policy for a Digital Age
The Moral Code
How To Teach Robots Right and Wrong
Focus on Data Use, Not Data Collection
The Power of Market Creation
How Innovation Can Spur Development
The Innovative State
Governments Should Make Markets, Not Just Fix Them
Food and the Transformation of Africa
Getting Smallholders Connected
Belief in “the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us,” as F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in The Great Gatsby, is a characteristic American trait. But hope in a better future is not uniquely American, even if it has long been a more potent secular faith in the United States than elsewhere. The belief has older roots. It was the product of a shift in the temporal location of the golden age from a long-lost past to an ever-brighter future.
That shift was conceived and realized with the Enlightenment and then the Industrial Revolution. As human beings gained ever-greater control of the forces of nature and their economies became ever more productive, they started to hope for lives more like those of the gods their ancestors had imagined.
People might never be immortal, but their lives would be healthy and long. People might never move instantaneously, but they could transport themselves and their possessions swiftly and cheaply across great distances. People might never live on Mount Olympus, but they could enjoy a temperate climate, 24-hour lighting, and abundant food. People might never speak mind to mind, but they could communicate with as many others as they desired, anywhere on the planet. People might never enjoy infinite wisdom, but they could gain immediate access to the knowledge accumulated over millennia.
All of this has already happened in the world’s richest countries. It is what the people of the rest of the world hope still to enjoy.
Is a yet more orgiastic future beckoning? Today’s Gatsbys have no doubt that the answer is yes: humanity stands on the verge of breakthroughs in information technology, robotics, and artificial intelligence that will dwarf what has been achieved in the past two centuries. Human beings will be able to live still more like gods because they are about to create machines like gods: not just strong and swift but also supremely intelligent and even self-creating.
Yet this is the optimistic
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