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The American Technological Challenge: Stagnation and Decline in the 21st Century

Jan Vijg

Verlag: Algora Publishing, 2011
ISBN 10: 087586886X / ISBN 13: 9780875868868
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Titel: The American Technological Challenge: ...

Verlag: Algora Publishing

Erscheinungsdatum: 2011

Einband: Hardcover

Zustand: New


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Inhaltsangabe: The American Technological Challenge - Stagnation and Decline in the 21st Century refutes the myth that we live in the most innovative of times. Inventions themselves are only one of the factors that determine the technological fate of a society. Sometimes, inventions are adopted, and eagerly; sometimes not. The history of technological progress, and the historical and societal factors that impel or restrain the adoption of inventions, are explored in the book.

New, life-changing inventions have become rare and in spite of ample vocal support of innovation, an increasingly complacent society has lost its taste for risk and often actively resists change. Far from being unique, technology slowdowns are recurrent events in history, occurring in civilizations that have reached the zenith of their success. They are the inevitable fate of an increasingly regulated, successful society.

Most people would characterize the dawn of the 21st century as the age of technological progress par excellence. If you are one of them, then, think again. While our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents witnessed life-changing inventions every decade, very little major new technology has seen the light of day over the last half century. We find ourselves in the midst of a technology slowdown!

This book is about the causes and consequences of technology slowdowns, which are not unique but recurrent events in human history. They occur not in times of upheaval, when violent interstate conflicts are the order of the day. Such periods foster innovation and allow major, breakthrough inventions to be adopted quickly. Instead, innovation seriously stalls in times that are peaceful, when governments reign supreme and citizens are encapsulated by layers of benign regulation to protect them against all possible harm.

We find ourselves in the best of times. The long period of bloody combat that characterized so much of the 20th century has finally ended. Violent conflicts between states are minimal and conditions for almost everyone on the planet are on an upswing, with poverty on the decline and life expectancy and literacy increasing. Responsible government and industry leaders have begun to refrain from risky bets on exciting new exploits and the time of grand projects, such as the Eisenhower Interstate System, the Moon Landing Program or the development of the internet is behind us. Instead, we have to make do with incremental improvements of existing technology, catch-up programs in developing countries and social programs. The consequences are stalling wealth generation and an end to the dramatic changes society has undergone since the industrial revolution now more than 200 years ago.

Über den Autor: Combining a passion for history and for science, Netherlands-born Jan Vijg earned his PhD in biology at the University of Leiden and built a career as a molecular geneticist, witnessing the revolution in genetics, from recombinant DNA technology to the human genome project of the 1990s. His own research program is focused on the hypothesis that aging is caused by random changes in the genome of our somatic cells.

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