RE: Solar power
Mon, 12 Jul 1999 12:21:34 -0700

Mark writes:

> This brings to mind one of Clarke's laws, where he said something along the
> lines of 'everyone overestimates the short-term improvements in technology
> and under-estimates the long-term'. That seems to be generally true, in my
> experience.

It seems to me that people tend to overestimate the short-term (meaning 5-10 years) improvements in the currently-hot technologies, while longer-term (20-30 years), improvements often sneak up on them in other areas that they aren't thinking about.

Back in the 60s, what was hot? Plastics? Space exploration? Big mainframes?

In the early 80s, what was hot? Biotech? AI and expert systems? Consumer Reports published a book in 1983 or so that described home computers as a failed technology.

In 1990, what was hot? Virtual reality? Compuserve and Prodigy?

I expect that many things which look promising today will be complete duds five years from now, and in 20 years the big news will be coming from something we haven't even considered today.