Just You Wait Until We Discover DNA!
This weekend, I’m doing a bit of research about the stories people tell about technology. One of the most popular stories that I have come across is the tale that technological improvements are going to enable such a huge amount of change that life will soon be beyond our current imagination.
Investment manager Ben Carlson, at his Wealth Of Common Sense web site, advises his clients that, “Back to the Future II could be here sooner than we think… by the 2030s we could see major breakthroughs in all of our biggest issues.” I’m not sure what he means with his Back to the Future II comment (does he mean to warn us that a wave of bad sequels is about to swamp us?), but the idea that we could see “major breakthroughs in all of our biggest issues” is crystal clear… if the crystal happens to be buried in a muddy swamp.
To illustrate his point, Carlson shares the following chart, which he says he got from a book called Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think, by Peter Diamandis.
Do you see what this chart suggests about the future? Soon, maybe two or three hundred years from now, we will discover how to make railroads! Then, we’ll invent a device called the “telephone”! Mobile technology, however, will be slightly out of our current track of space-time, and will be invented in a parallel universe.
Among the implications of this is… that it’s easy to tell a story that looks as if it’s based upon carefully-analyzed statistics, when in fact, the numbers that appear in the spreadsheets, charts, and analysis presented to us are just sort of improvised. It’s important to look at the details to see whether the tale is credible.
Just imagine how Ben Carlson’s approach to numbers is manifested in his work in investment management.