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I'm sorry Brad, I'm afraid I can't agree with that

October 25th, 2002

Brad DeLong, in hisSemi-Daily Journal writes:

While the rate of advance of computer and communications technologies have vastly outstripped anything I imagined when I was a child … where are the robots?

I disagree with Brad’s premise that advances in computer and communications technologies have outstripped imagination.

We haven’t even got workable voice control, let alone a computer comparable to HAL in 2001. As regards communications, video telephony (a staple of imagined futures since Dick Tracy) is still off in the distance somewhere. I can’t believe Brad’s youthful imagination didn’t run to something more impressive than SMS text messaging.

And while the Internet is great, personal computers in other respects haven’t made more than incremental advances since the 1980s (or, in the case of Windows, since 1995).

Paul Krugman did a piece a while back looking at the technical predictions of people like the Hudson Institute. He found that, like economists with recessions, they forecasted all the main innovations we actually got and a bunch that we didn’t.

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