Pioneer Community Discussion – The golden age of what?
Shared by jackson · 10d ago · 44 comments

I've had many conversations in and out of Pioneer about technology today. What gets people excited, what remains under-appreciated or overhyped, where real innovation is happening.

This is a broad question, but if you agree that today is a golden age for something – what is that thing? Where is the bleeding edge we'll look back on in awe and consequence 5, 10, 20 years from now.

Extra points for the unexpected.

faithblessing · 1d ago

I'd rather talk on what's underappreciated; complete Globalization. Sadly, we'll look back some 10 years from now and wish we had done more. The globalization race isn't all-inclusive, both politically and economically. The slower players aren't lagging behind because they want to, but because they can't navigate their way to the forefront. Politically, countries on the fore front have done much to create equal opportunity for these slower countries, but they can't do it alone, because it's beyond giving grants, loans and relief funds, its way more complex. Economically, innovation that would bring rapid development and good civilization don't look profitable on the short-term or is too risky for investments. But let's take a look at the future benefits; the huge population of an African country that's double of the US could be a new market for internet based startups some 15 years ahead if the country experiences exponential economic development in the next 15 yrs. Such population is hoarding millions of talents untapped, because they are cut off from the rest of the world due to socioeconomic challenges that brought inequality, these large countries have untapped natural resources needed for economic growth by the rest of the world but have remained unexplored due to socioeconomic obstacles. Also, these countries have a population that could sustain a long era of industrialization. Each time I look at these countries, I see huge money, untapped.

Tackling the complex socio-economic challenges of these African countries through innovation might not be profitable in the short-term, but would be beneficial to many countries, industries and Startups. One of the obstacles to bringing innovation to these African countries I would say is just the willingness of innovative people to take a bold step. I believe once there is a will there will be a way. Currently, I would say there exists enough tools (artificial intelligence especially) in the world today that could be put together to bring Innovation that would drive inclusion and modernization in such countries to open up this huge population (huge money) to Inclusive globalization and unlock its talents and resources to the rest of the world for equal exploration. Of course a startup focused on such may not look attractive for a VC fund but in the future it opens doors of profitability for every sector and venture. Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation took a bold step recently to build e-government solutions for Nigeria, that's a good example, though I would say it's because it's a non-profit organisation, so they basically won't be focused on profit, but the usefulness would benefit the rest of the world. It would take time too, because it requires in-depth study of the prevailing socio-economic challenges over a long time before developing and deploying effective solutions. Nevertheless, it pays off on the long-term.

AndyDent-Touchgram · 1d ago

Each time I look at these countries, I see huge money, untapped.

Are you looking from outside or inside these countries? I've met some very impressive founders here on Pioneer, from a range of African countries.

faithblessing · 20h ago

From outside the continent

@peterorjustp · 8d ago

This is the golden age of waste.

So much 'innovation' is being pumped into a) creating content that few if any people will ever watch/listen/read, b) creating products that no one needs, including tons of finance and crypto projects along with consumer 'goods', and c) convincing people that they are missing out on one or both of those.

Much like the bubbles of the past laid the infrastructure for the next rising, today's wastes will create the backend of tomorrow's golden age.

Delivery, of products, data, money, and even people, is getting cheaper by the day, whether you're downloading a video or sending a rocket to space. Population movement has stagnated because everything can come to you wherever you are. But it comes with a cost, which is the onslaught of ads, pollution, and other junk that is paying for the trip.

There will be 'visionary' leaders that use this instant transportation to collocate into like-minded groups. They can pool work and resources while putting up walls (physical and Chinese firewalls) to keep out the unwanted noise and undesirable Others. They can return to nature, create exclusivity, and offer the freedom to actually choose your life instead of being inundated by infinite 'choices'.

It will bring the golden age of CULTS.

kendsouza · 5d ago

I think you meant to say it will bring about the golden age of spirituality, where we reduce the noise and clutter in our lives and get back to nature. We are all slaves in a system which defines our lives for us and convinces us not to be content with our lives by creating constant desire for material stuff. Once we reduce the need to want more(minimalist life) and reduce our material attachments, the noise and clutter accordingly gets reduced as a byproduct. Spirituality to me is not about following any religion or cults (nothing wrong with that) but more about getting to understand oneself and getting connected with everything. Whether a cult , religion, visionary leaders , technology, black swan event or individual awakening will do that..it does not matter..we are indeed headed there.. living a life which generates less waste thus enriching our lives. The pandemic was sort of a awakening to a lot of folks..that they are wasting what is very limited in their lives ..TIME..once gone..it is gone forever.

@peterorjustp · 5d ago

Why'd you have to go and make sense of that. :)

I like your version, more serious and optimistic in one!

faithblessing · 1d ago

Lol, he really made sense off that word 'CULT'

kendsouza · 1d ago

'faithblessing' :)

sole-fields · 7d ago

Interesting take. Not sure I entirely follow the cults bit. Are you saying cults will solve the issues created by mass waste? How and where?

@peterorjustp · 7d ago

I wasn't being overly serious, but cults could curb some of the waste as a way of bundling similar people together so there is less need for globalization and for consumerism as a whole since the cult would likely have different values and status symbols.

In my view cults are kind of like a Dyson Sphere, they want to keep as much energy on the inside as possible. So they could starve the 'wasteful' industries, but they won't really solve the issues directly.

Where is kind of impossible to say, where will the leader come from and where will they want to help the group 'escape' from/to? In the past they've gone for cheap as the driving factor and ended up at the fringes of society. Deserts, islands, mountains, space: they probably won't be centered in a big established cities, but anything else is on the table.

Jimmons · 10d ago

Computer vision! More generally, AI -- but that's too broad. I'm most excited about computer vision. cc Roboflow guys and anyone else in the industry

alessandrosolbiati · 10d ago

NLP, natural language processing. We are able to train big language models on the the entire internet to make them have a human like understanding of natural languages.

jackson · 8d ago

Yep, massive. What do you think are the most significant applications of NLP?

alessandrosolbiati · 8d ago

broadly speaking.. search, language generation (e.g. assistant), captioning, text understanding (e.g. content extraction, summarisation)

some fun products that use NLP to do crazy stuff are https://www.descript.com, they use NLP to edit your voice like deep fakes

jonathanrstern · 8d ago

Eli Dourado's blog post is the single-best thing I've read about what may be coming.

https://elidourado.com/blog/notes-on-technology-2020s/

Klog · 7d ago

Starship promises to take this trend much further. On Falcon 9, only the first stage is reusable, whereas on Starship, the entire system—both the booster and the space vehicle—is reusable. Starship runs on dirt cheap liquid methane instead of expensive rocket fuel. It is made out of stainless steel instead of more expensive traditional aerospace materials. SpaceX is talking about churning out Starships at a rate of one every 72 hours for a cost of $5 million each. Operating costs come down with a high flight rate, so Elon is figuring a $1.5-million fully burdened launch cost for 150 tons to LEO. That is $10/kg, more than 100 times cheaper than a Falcon 9 launch today.

This is ridiculously compelling.

mkaic · 7d ago

Honestly, $10/kg is such a frickin exciting number to even be remotely speculating about! I mean, that's like easily sub ~$1000 per person for tickets to ride!

Klog · 7d ago

It's truly insane.

jackson · 7d ago

Great read. Expansive!

sole-fields · 10d ago

Space, for sure. Back in the 60s and 70s, everything was experimental and uneconomical. Hence the moon program ending and the massive lull until SpaceX.

I'd argue that the first moon landing was part of 'space v~0.5' and we're currently witnessing the actual space era. REason being is that going to space has become an actual business model. SpaceX generates 1.2B of revenue from missions over the course of the year. Used to just be a pet project of warring nations. Now it's a thing of value in the free economy.

mkaic · 8d ago

I'm a big believer that we're sitting squarely in elbow of the exponential curve of overall human progress, and lots of people don't even realize it. Our species isn't just moving forward at a constant rate, we're rapidly accelerating. It's super fricking exciting. I know the prompt was more along the lines of 20 years, but I can't resist going on a rant regarding a slightly larger time-frame :)

The next hundred years (in my non-expert opinion) will include:

•The first Mars colonies (honestly probably super soon), and very potentially the first colonies elsewhere in the solar system, too,
•Probably some advancements in anti-aging,
•Brain-computer interfaces, allowing for the Age of Information to boom even further,
•(Hopefully, if we can crack it) widespread fusion energy leading to the end of the global energy crisis,
•Potentially most of abject poverty vanished,
•The beginnings of human aspirations for interstellar travel becoming feasible.

I think us getting off-planet is super critical, because it acts as insurance. I think the number one threat to civilization as we know it is that we end up nuking ourselves into oblivion because some old men from different countries get into a fight over who's prettier. If we can leave the planet, suddenly we've got a second chance, and nuking the Earth doesn't mean the effective death of the species any more.

Sal · 7d ago

Old men *and women! :)

mkaic · 7d ago

True that, being petty certainly isn't gender-exclusive :)

jackson · 7d ago

Cool ideas, any articles or media in particular you'd suggest for further reading?

mkaic · 7d ago

Honestly, I just check https://news.ycombinator.com daily and most/all of what I know or hear about modern scientific progress comes from what gets posted there (though I'm guessing there's a solid chance most people on Pioneer are already familiar with HN)

mkaic · 7d ago

When it comes to far-future tech stuff, I also really enjoy the speculative (and beautifully animated) videos of Kurzgesagt on YouTube. They do a great job of diving into tons of wild theories and hypotheses that have yet to be tested for lack of sufficient technological advancement.

jackson · 7d ago

Sweet. Will check them out!

kendsouza · 9d ago

Al Gore promoted legislation in the 80's and 90's that funded an expansion of the ARPANET, allowing greater public access, and helping to develop the Internet. See where it got us...yep..Al Gore did create the internet:)
The huge infrastructure plan proposed in the Biden Admin has $100 billion dollar included for broadband and the internet fix
will have a similar effect on Cloud Solutions.
Also life has dramatically changed under the pandemic whether you like it or not. There is a massive paradigm shift in motion right now as a lot of manual work and play ( and there is a lot) moves at a faster pace to the cloud. It is likely almost 80% of the folks in the US will be doing their work full time on the cloud, 5 years from now.

I can say for certain there will still be no flying cars five years from now:) Maybe less cars on the streets as a lot of folks will be on the cloud. Electric cars will be like innovation with DVD players.( it's all on the cloud with Netflix, Amazon Prime, You Tube etc). Maybe Uber will expand to a subscription service.. on demand cars to your doorstep for $100 bucks a month..why own a car?
Same goes for space ships(good for the star trek movies)..all you would need is something like a occulus headset and a drone capable of exploring planets(won't happen in 5 years though) ..then anyone will be able to explore space after that. Who would have thought in the 80's that anyone could hold massive computing capacity in the palm of their hands in the future, but everyone thought a flying car was absolutely certain?
(Not good for Elon Musk's vision with his Tesla and SpaceX).

AI is still brute force on the data..no intelligence there yet..but good for a lot of grunt work on the cloud. Blockchain will have some of its kinks worked out and has a lot of potential. There is atleast 1 smart dude in his basement today somewhere..figuring out how to make cryptos easy, faster and cheaper for transactions for the average joe, just like swiping a credit card. Until then..it is good for speculative plays.(expecting bitcoin to reach $500k in 5 years i.e if the USD is still around:) NFT's are like tulip mania right now..but it will find its legs somewhere.

Sal · 8d ago

Nice. This was a fun analysis.

estebanvargas · 10d ago

-Remote work
-DeFi
-NLP

-Maybe ISAs

alexgreene · 10d ago

I think we're in the golden age of big content and big business. Big Content because it's never been easier or cheaper to create, but the big players still have enough draw to fund big productions like Game of Thrones, etc. I think 5 years from now we'll see far less interest in funding extremely high quality content like that, and more investment in lower quality niche content. We'll look back on what's been produced in the last 10 years with awe, but we'll also enjoy the new forms of low budget media from smaller creators.

Big business because I see smaller players carving away what big companies have taken for granted, across many industries. More likely 10 years from now, but maybe even 5 years from now, I think it will be more difficult for companies at today's scales to exist.

mkaic · 7d ago

I think there's a non-zero chance we'll see artificial intelligence begin to seriously compete with humanity in art creation in the next 100 years, too, so yeah right now is totally the golden age -- tons of new tech, tons of demand, no automated solutions (yet).

alexgreene · 7d ago

Long before we get there, the software that aids current movie/animation studios will be made available to the average consumer.

Relatively easily, you’ll be able to animate and share a scene in your head. The line between Pixar and what your kid can do in a weekend will close.

jerico · 7d ago

Love this take. I wonder if it's only possible to have a flourishing economy full of smaller companies if they sit snugly in the shadow of large monoliths? Like could the world theoretically move entirely away from big business, or is it necessary for there to be a few giant pillars?

On the content front, couldn't be truer. Everything personalized, too.

alexgreene · 7d ago

It would be a slow progression, and the giant pillars upon which others currently rely will be the last affected. I don’t think they crumble. Everything else just gets taller.

affordance.app · 8d ago

For me it will be Quantum Computing, it literally accelerates any other bleeding tech from VR to AI to Crypto.

jackson · 8d ago

What's the current state of this tech? Any good articles?

affordance.app · 7d ago

Here is an example of how its being streamlined : https://news.mit.edu/2021/william-oliver-quantum-computing-0119.
IBM collaborates with Hospital to use their quantum computer : https://venturebeat.com/2021/03/30/cleveland-clinic-will-be-ibms-first-private-sector-customer-to-install-a-quantum-computer-on-premise
The return of Silicon Semiconductor Startups https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26695060

jackson · 7d ago

Wow. These are phenomenal articles. These are perfect for Frontier -- in particular, the IBM collaboration. Very much in line with progress on the edge. Feel free to post these or others you may come across, would love to read!

Adam · 8d ago

Everything is about to change. This is the time of the end of the old manual way and the beginning of the age of automation. People in the future will be shocked when they look back and see how much we did manually, how many things we had to pay attention to, how many things we did specifically. They'll look back and wonder how we got anything done at all.

ptmn · 10d ago

Planetary exploration is exciting, but the Earth is under-appreciated very deeply.

Internet.

NFT-gal · 10d ago

Decentralization and blockchain.

Sometimes tough to distinguish flights of fancy from genuinely new and groundbreaking technology. And admittedly, I don't know what will come of this whole NFT/crypto mania (BitClout is ridiculous), but the whole thing is getting massive attention and tons of people flocking with new creative solutions. Real excitement. Plus heavy flow of money (VCs and consumers), which ultimately drives everything.

I'm now fully dancing in the blockchain party. It's the next evolution of the Internet and we're living its first Hay Day.

jackson · 7d ago

Chris Dixon is my favorite on this. Listening to him and Daniel chat about these things was fascinating.

NFT-gal · 7d ago

I'm just loving the whole artist mania going on via Twitter rn.