In recent times, I came across a list from the History Channel detailing seven inventions from the Gilded Age that revolutionized the world. This brought back memories of a commentary I did years ago, inspired by Mark Steyn’s book After America. In it, he proposed an interesting thought experiment: imagine bringing your great-grandfather from the late 19th century to an ordinary American home in 1950. The reaction would be astonishment – this house filled with mechanical contraptions! There’s a huge machine in the kitchen that keeps food fresh and cold, an orchestra playing from a tiny box on the countertop, and outside, metal conveyances speed down streets enclosed in doors and windows. No horses or horse-drawn carriages in sight.
But now consider reversing that scenario. Imagine sending someone from 1950 to our world today. They might be disappointed; not much has changed since then. Sure, there are computers and smartphones now, but they would have expected more advancements than they witnessed. Most of these remarkable changes took place over a century ago.
So why did our technology reach a plateau? Physics and politics offer two explanations. While we can dream of flying cars, time machines, and teleportation devices, physical limitations prevent their creation. Moreover, bureaucratic regulations make it harder for inventors and entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to fruition. It is high time we roll back government interference to foster innovation and imagination once again.