Why Has Human Progress Slowed Down?

Compared to the boom of from 1940 to 1970, technological advancement seems to have comnpletely stagnated.

That time saw the invention of computers, space travel, nuclear power, modern medicine, international transport etc. Anything seemed possible, we saw a future of space travel, cure-all medicine, clean energy and robotics.

Now we just get mildly better smartphones and any new medical treatments take decades for approval when they do come along. We haven’t had a new antibiotic developed in decades and cancer survival rates have only improved 5% since 1950. We hear about advances massively overstated in the news, but we never see them in reality.

We surely have more engineers today than in the past, stress seems to be on start-ups and innovation, more people are educated in general. So why is everything slowing down?


The perceived “slow down” of scientific progress is probably just a reality at this point.

The great age of physics only lasted a few decades. similarly, solid-state electronics exploded for a few decades as well.

Cars and planes are pretty much perfected, except for the transition to electrical power.

Medicine will continue to advance at a snail’s pace.

What else is there? And as for that 40s to 70s time period, cell phones and the internet have changed the world far more than anything from that era. Nukes have had a profound effect in that super powers don’t wage direct war anymore, but as for your life and my life, they changed more in the last two decades than in the 40-70 period.

I’m not saying there’s nothing left to discover, but we are at something of a plateau.

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We are not slowing down at all.

We can now land robotic probes on fast moving asteroids, have 4 legged walking robots advanced enough to self right when tipped over and most people in the developed world carry in their pockets a computing device more powerful than supercomputers from back in the 70s and 80s that has wireless access to the largest open library of information ever in the history of man.

Technological advancement gets better each year at a faster rate but you just don’t notice because you’re so immersed in the tech already that it now seems mundane.

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This is not a correct statement.

I also want to demonstrate the “lack of progress” in medicine as well.

  1. Those were low hanging fruit compared to the stuff we have to deal with now.
  2. People back then underestimated the complexity of things that they sought to achieve. Had they known better they wouldn’t have talked about jet packs and other wacky stuff.
  3. The promised energy revolution never materialized. Just like today you have people predicting the future based on the growth of computer power, back then they were doing the same with energy. Oil seemed to be infinite and cheap, in the span of one human lifetime during your timeframe, they went from horses and carriages to supersonic jets and space travel, from simple rifles to nuclear weapons. They were predicting the future based on what had been happening until that point, which is a fallacious way of doing things because trends like that are inherently unreliable.

You see, things like this are pessimistic, in my view.

You base this on nothing but your vague thinking. We have made lots of progress since the 1970’s, still! Collective learning is at its finest at this very moment. We had the internet in the 70’s because of Arpanet protocol, but we didn’t have the Web, Windows, Linux, Mac OS, iOS, Android, or anything. New things are still coming up all of the time. Yes, it’s true that modern innovation in relation to computing is slowing down, as Moore’s law has to be changed from every one to two years, to every three or four years, but think; in the grand scheme of things, that’s still amazing! That’s almost no difference in the amount of advancement we’re making when it comes to human existence. We didn’t start walking until about 6 MYA with the ‘Lucy’ fossil. Homo sapiens themselves didn’t’ show up until 1.8 MYA to 1.3 MYA. We didn’t start using fire until a couple hundred thousand years ago with Homo erectus. Humans didn’t even develop farming and agriculture until 11,500 years ago. The first industrial revolution took place only 250-ish years ago! We didn’t begin developing non-mechanical computers until 85-ish years ago! We didn’t have the World Wide Web (although we did have the internet) until 1990 - less than 30 years ago.

The difference in the speed of development of computing power going from 2-ish years to 3-ish years makes honestly no different in the rate of human advancement overall.

That’s only one type of disease, though. When you look at things overall, we’ve still made a lot of advancement. If you only look at one thing that isn’t like the rest, and try to compare it to it, obviously it’s going to lead you to such silly conclusions as thinking everything is slowed own, because of how horrible the one thing is.

The real answer is:

The internet. It’s connected everything together and homogenized things. People are spoonfed the consensus on how to be and what to think.

Facebook/social media has created bigger awareness of the difference between a normie and an autist. Eccentrics and STEM-types now make a conscious effort to be normal which stifles their creativity. Only mentally ill people openly show themselves doing their own thing.

Piracy has disincentivized creative pursuits and made people consider creativity as fanciful and a meme.

People are also stale and often depressed in their thinking because they are looking at screens all the time.

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Speaking as a researcher at a prominent university, one reason for the decline in advancement is, ironically, the huge amount of PhDs we’ve been producing.

Back when you had a smaller number of trained academic researchers, they had the time and flexibility to think about new problems and come up with radical solutions. Tenured positions in academia were more available and they rewarded good scientists by giving them the security to work on long-term problems.

Nowadays, we have so many PhDs or PhD students competing for the same small piece of the pie that people can’t actually focus on thinking about problems. You spend all your time thinking about how you’re going to bring in more money and funding into your lab. Most of your time is spent writing grant applications to beg for money from the government. And when the funding is given, it’s conditional on the researchers accomplishing exactly what they said they’d do in a multi-year plan.

So if the research suggests that the initial approach was wrong? Too bad! Gotta stick with the plan because only the next quarterly progress report matters. Want to build a system that works well? Too bad? Gotta spend all your time and resources for some short-term demo that looks good to the funding agencies. You know all those “science journalism” articles that promise how some technology is going to be so amazing in 5-10 years? Most of it is complete nonsense, created by the university PR department to build up the careers of its “rock-star researchers” and attract more funding.

Do you have some big but risky new idea that you want to explore? Well there’s a chance of failure which means that some other research team may out-compete you. Better just play it safe and do yet another incremental bit of research so you can get more publications and conference presentations which are the only measure of success. Publish or perish!

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You want to really know why human progress has slowed?

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action caused the labor force to be lazy and unskilled. Everyone is too busy showing off how progressive they are to their banking benefactors and trying to scrape up free money. No one really wants to invest in anything.

There’s still a few out there like Elon Musk making some progress though. But they’ll become rarer and rarer as white people mostly leave society behind disillusioned by it all…Atlas Shrugged.

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Nothing is being slowed down. It is an illusion. They only allow us to have knowledge of a percentage of what goes on behind closed doors. It is estimated that we, the public, are about 12 years behind in technology that of the world leaders and top tech/science men and women.

Our technological advancement has increased exponentially since that age. Computer processing speeds and memory is doubling now at the rage of about once a year.

Many other areas remain limited simply by the laws of physics, particularly in the energy sector since only so much energy can be generated from any given atom or molecule.

Many of the predictions of that era relied on us finding a cheaper, alternative source of energy which of course we haven’t.

Many were based on the idea that all of our electricity would be generated by fission or fusion but the nuclear industry has been crippled by irrational fears and the problem of what to do with spent nuclear fuel. Theoretically we can build reactors that run on that waste completely or almost completely consuming it but as yet that goal remains achievable largely due to the former.

Medical and pharmaceutical tech has advanced at an astronomical rate since that era as well.

In truth the internet has accelerated scientific and technical advancement exponentially as it allows collaboration at literally light speed by people all around the world.

That was never possible on a large scale before the internet as we were pretty well limited to telephones for communication at light speed.