Kevin Kelly: the Internet has just started


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Hmph. Nonsense. Everything that can be invented has been invented.

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There’s also this feeling that the “glory times” are past in lot of other fields – molecular biology for example. It’s easy to look back and say “Man, they had it made in the 1950s – so much was undiscovered that it was almost trivial to make a major discovery.” But of course that’s hindsight talking. And ignoring just how hard it was to make those “easy” early findings with the primitive tools they had available. And how discoveries now will look equally easy 50 years from now when our tools look primitive.

On the other hand, you can look back to 1969 and wonder where we would be in space in the year 2014. On Mars? At the nearest star? Nope. Or perhaps something like automobiles. In 1969, most cars got around 20 MPG. About the same now except they all look like boxes with wheels. Remember when Artificial Intelligence was going to make computers think for themselves? Yet to happen although the latest neural chips from IBM get us a step closer. The past 20 years of internet growth, cellular communications, and advances in miniaturization and surface mount technology has certainly made us all more connected and transformed the way we do many things. I can appreciate the optimism of the article but there’s a little voice that is telling me that that what we will see in 2044 will simply be a logical extension of what we see now - but not much radically new technology. Wild and wooly frontier-level development and rapid growth capital require a fundamental new technology. AI. A Star Trek transporter. Faster than light travel. Manipulation of DNA in selected species to produce new sentient creatures with which we can converse. Or any of a number of things that currently exist only in our sci-fi imaginations. You can bet that those would spark a revolution. But the internet? I’m not so sure. A rocket still looks and acts like a rocket, an automobile still looks and acts like an automobile, and there’s a chance that the internet in 2044 will look pretty similar to the internet we have today.

I know part of it is that I’m older and more jaded and cynical, but it feels like there’s a million times more content now than there was in 1998, but only a millionth of it is actually interesting. I used to poke around in a small and limited pool of really fascinating stuff, and now I’m drowning in an ocean of clickbait, gossip, and reposts. All the content explosion has done is make it harder to find something I actually want to read.


That’s probably where the AI he mentions comes in. Just remember, thirty years from now, they’ll lament that the opportunity was just sitting there until [whenever that personal content-curating AI is invented].

I read the article as an encouraging tautology.

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… and that content-curating AI is dismissed as not true (or strong) AI, but just some clever software in the same way we regard algorithms like MapReduce or OCR today.


There’s no progress without moving the goal posts from time to time.

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