Re: “The Up Side to Obsolescence“, people have always assumed that the technology of their time would continue and things would go on pretty much the same. But if we look at history, that just isn't true.
Back in 1964, when I visited the world's fair as a seven-year-old, I saw the predictions of the flying cars, personal jetpacks, cities on the moon, etc. None of these things took place, yet given the rate of progress in technology at the time, they were reasonable predictions.
The reason these things didn't happen was what society decided to pursue as goals, rather than the ability for technology to deliver a particular solution. Remember that absolutely no one predicted the impact of a flood of low-cost computing power to the masses, no hint of the Internet, email, video games, or a hundred other devices.
The biggest problem in going into space is not technology; it's vision and will power. If the human race decides to explore and colonize the solar system, it will. History shows that human beings can do just about anything. When they are either mad enough or tired enough, they will decide to do something about it.
The reason our current space efforts seem so poorly directed is that there is no mission, as there was in the '60s, that captured the public's imagination. Remember that from 1962 to 1969, while the country was involved in the turmoil of Vietnam, when the civil rights struggle was at its peak, when President Johnson's “Great Society” was being founded, NASA managed to design, develop, construct, debug, and land 12 men on the Moon and bring them home. The will of a dead president and the desire of the nation to fulfill that will are what made it possible.
Director, Applications Development
Global Payment Technologies