Is It Time to Start Talking About the Future Again?
Economic trouble continues. In the U.S., where the Federal government has moved gradually at best to cut spending, the pain — especially at state and local levels — is still rolling in. (The U.K., meanwhile, went directly to austerity mode.) But there are green shoots to be seen, especially at the high end. Plastic surgery, for instance, is on the rise. (Depending on your worldview, you might consider this the end of the world rather than the start of a recovery, but still …)
To me, one of the best indicators of economic mood is simply what people are talking about, especially what they’re willing to talk about in public — as in, say, what people are willing to put on the cover of a magazine. Check out the cover lines of this week’s Economist and Time. They read, respectively:
Print Me a Stradivarius: The manufacturing technology that will change the world*
2045: The year man becomes immortal
When people are willing en masse to start talking about the future in non-apocalyptic terms, I take that as a good sign that the panic of the near-term past has officially begun to subside.
* Related: Even food can be printed. And, one interesting tidbit from the Economist article:
Printing in 3D is not the preserve of the West: Chinese companies are adopting the technology too. Yet you might infer that some manufacturing will return to the West from cheap centres of production in China and elsewhere. This possibility was on the agenda of a conference organised by DHL last year. The threat to the logistics firm’s business is clear: why would a company airfreight an urgently needed spare part from abroad when it could print one where it is required?