...the smart way to bet (for the past 300 years anyway) is on the optimists. If the question is, "Are things likely to get better?" The answer is, "Yes!" Joel Mokyr tells us why in this recent essay. Excerpt here:
If this historical model holds some truth, the best may still be to come for modern societies. Only in recent decades has science learned to use high-powered computing and the storage of massive amounts of searchable (and thus accessible) data at negligible costs. The vast array of instruments and machines that can see, analyze, and manipulate entities at the sub-cellular and sub-molecular level promise advances in areas that can be predicted only vaguely. But these tools, to beat Cowen’s metaphor into the ground, allow us to build taller ladders to pick higher-hanging fruit. We can also plant new trees that will grow fruits that no one today can imagine.