Limits of our imagination

2020-05-16 2 min read

    While listening to a podcast describing the CSO role there was an interesting anecdote mentioned (~14:19 mark) that I couldn’t find anywhere else: in the 1900s the chief electrician on wall street was one of the highest paid positions. Back then, the electricity infrastructure was not as stable as it is now and it was not a certainty that it would stay up so those dedicated to keeping the systems running were appropriately rewarded. Over time, the electrical infrastructure became stable enough that it’s become expected and very few worry about it.

    For what roles is this true for now but won’t be in a 100 years? The world has changed significantly over the past century and it’s only accelerating and yet we can imagine what’s currently bleeding edge will become normalized over time. The example that comes to mind is AI and ML - we’re making incredible progress and yet it comes with a variety of warts that requires know-how and experience to operate. At the same time, once artificial general intelligence comes around it will be feeding itself and seem like a black box to most, if not everyone.

    The more difficult question is what will be the most vital roles a century from now? If you were to ask someone this question a 100 years ago there’s no way they’d be able to predict the professions we have now despite their science fiction. If you read a modern science fiction book it all seems inevitable and somewhat obvious and yet what are we missing? Is our imagination that limited?