Innovation

Every generation looks at everything around them and asks, "Can we do without this?" whether it's racism, sexism, or God

Every generation has liberals, i.e. free-wheeling types who think they can get on without time-tested institutions like work, religion, traditional gender roles, etc. Just because we are moving towards greater liberalization does not mean people are becoming more liberal, but rather that freedom is becoming increasingly safer. An argument often made against atheists is that without God, people won't be able to tell right from wrong. The atheists counter-argue that people still know that murder is wrong, even without someone in a robe telling them so. But perhaps this is only true today. There must have been a tiny minority of atheists a thousand or more years ago who would have said the same things, but without a religious command-and-control structure, they couldn't thrive. We are so much more educated than our ancestors, and so the benefits of freedom from religion no longer outweigh by the costs.

In the world of economics, it appears we've made progress from a gold-backed currency to fiat as if somehow we woke up one day and invented the concept. But fiat currencies have been tried throughout history, and it's only now with the right supporting institutions, such as centralized banking and electronic transactions, that they make sense. Fiat isn't so much an enlightened new idea, as it is a retiring of an older structure that is no longer serving its purpose.

We are proud of our liberal attitudes towards women as if somehow we've cultivated a more egalitarian worldview over time. Instead, it may simply be that the costs of bearing children were too high, or the amount of income per household too little, or the alternatives for women—or anybody for that matter—too few.

Every generation has a vanguard that looks at everything and asks, "Can we do without this?" Can we live without meat? Can we live without work? Can we live without neighbors? And sometimes the answer is Yes, in which case we retire that need. And sometimes the answer is No, leading the vanguard to be ridiculed, and enlightenment postponed till some future generation can bear it.

Innovation is like a virus. Principles like "always on" or "in the cloud" only have to be proven once before disrupting everything

One strategy for coming up with new high-tech products or services is to concoct superlative hypothetical situations out of existing technology. For example, a budding entrepreneur could look around at his office, point to something, and add the prefix "always on." "What would be different if we had an always-on camera? What would be different if my microphone was always on? What if the screen on my phone was always on? What if unlimited data was a genuine promise, and one could have always-on file transfers on their phones?"

Other exaggerated modifiers could be, "on your wrist," "the size of a pinhead," or "in the cloud." Given the inexorable trend of technological growth, this seemingly amateur parlor trick generates business ideas that reliably anticipate future trends. What one component gets, every component eventually gets. If something is "on your wrist" or "in the cloud" today, why couldn't everything else be that way tomorrow?