In recent years, I’ve come across a list from the History Channel detailing seven inventions from the Gilded Age that revolutionized the world. It brought to mind a commentary I did over a decade ago based on Mark Steyn’s book, After America. In that commentary, we imagined what it would be like to bring our great-grandfather living in the late 19th century to an average American home in 1950. The poor gentleman would be astonished by the mechanical contraptions in this home, including a massive machine in the kitchen that kept food fresh and cold and an orchestra playing somewhere that came from a tiny box on the kitchen countertop.
He would look out the window and see metal conveyances coming down the street at incredible speeds, enclosed with doors and windows. These were known as cars, and there were no horses or horse-drawn carriages in sight. It’s fascinating to think about how much technology has advanced since then.
However, it’s also interesting to consider what our technological advancements might look like to someone from 1950. I think they would be disappointed by how little has changed since then. Sure, there are computers and smartphones now, but I imagine they would have expected more significant changes than they found. Most of the remarkable advancements took place over a hundred years ago.
Physics and politics are two reasons why much of our technology reached a plateau. We can dream of flying cars, time machines, and teleporting devices, but there are physical limits that prevent them from being created. However, another reason is politics and especially bureaucratic regulations that make it much more difficult for inventors and entrepreneurs to innovate and bring new ideas to life. It’s time for us to roll back government regulations that stifle innovation and imagination so we can continue pushing technological boundaries beyond what we currently know is possible.