It looks as if this checklist surfaces on social media yearly or so. People stumble throughout the “Long Boom” story, discover the “scenario spoilers” sidebar, and get away in suits of nervous laughter. The checklist is simply unbelievably cursed.
Here’s a goofy little thought experiment: Imagine you might be one of many story’s authentic coauthors (futurists Peter Leyden and Peter Schwartz). In 1997, you wrote an iconic WIRED journal cowl story predicting that the longer term was going to be remarkably vibrant and affluent for everybody, in every single place. You included a sidebar with 10 the explanation why it may not work out so nicely. And then principally all of these causes (together with, y’know, “Russia devolves into a kleptocracy,” and “an uncontrollable plague”) really occurred.
(A) Make a joke of it. “Haha, sorry for the curse, everyone. My next prediction can only be spoiled by free ice cream and zero-point energy for all.”
(B) Write a important retrospective discussing not simply the spoiler sidebar, however every thing else that was lacking from the rose-colored-glasses state of affairs.
(C) Reinvent your self as an Indiana Jones-style swashbuckling world traveler, looking for to unearth no matter Old Gods you apparently offended in 1997.
or (D) Write a follow-up essay, describe it as “the long boom squared,” and embrace one other checklist of 10 spoilers that may smash the longer term?!?
Because of us, I’ve unhealthy information to report: Peter Leyden selected choice D.
This time, he’s predicting that 2025-2050 might be a interval of unparalleled progress and abundance—except we run into spoilers like “liberal democracies fail,” “quasi civil war,” “nuclear bomb explodes,” “desperate oil states,” and “China hot war.”
So … yeah …
3. The Long Boom, Taken Seriously
All joking and unhealthy omens apart, it’s price grappling with the precise argument offered within the authentic “Long Boom” story. I assign this piece each semester to my History of the Digital Future class as a guiding instance of the brash technological optimism that was a part of Silicon Valley’s ideological core again then (and arguably nonetheless is at this time). The “scenario spoilers” sidebar barely comes up within the article itself. The authors don’t dwell on these potential issues, consider their probability, or focus on what steps we should take with a view to keep away from them. The spoilers are offered in passing, as one may say “of course it might rain, and then we’ll have to move indoors” in an 11,000-word description of an upcoming picnic.
The piece argues that we (circa 1997) have reached an inflection level in world historical past. The Cold War is lastly over, and the neoliberal financial order is ascendent. The authors insist that breakthroughs in science and expertise are about to treatment most cancers and finish poverty and world starvation. A brand new economics of abundance will enhance life in every single place, engendering goodwill amidst our abruptly really world civilization. (They additionally determine we’ll land on Mars by 2020, NBD.)