Harvard Business Review interviewed Tyler Cowen about his latest book, on how America has given up on change.
“In his last book, economist Tyler Cowen wrote about how machine intelligence could change the world. In his new book, The Complacent Class, he writes about the forces that prevent change from happening. In particular, he argues that America has become more averse to change in recent decades and that this has transformed our work, our leisure, and our neighborhoods.” More HERE.
As I read through the Cowen’s interview, I was resistant to the idea that I was adverse to change, being an early adopter of technology for my age group. Some of my favorite reading is about complexity, tomorrow’s technology, the historical impact of technology and social change and of course climate change. Then on reflection, I realized that we had lived in a community that fights change at every flex point where any change is proposed.
In Nevada County there are tribes which fought the introduction of corporate stores, “big box” stores, the widening of SR-49, Loma Rica Ranch Village, parking structures in downtown Grass Valley, the development of the old sawmill site on the southern edge of Grass Valley, to illustrate a few of the battles against change.
Reviewing the fierce fights to prevent a change in Western Nevada County, I realized that Tyler Cowen was a better social observer than I was willing to admit. I have been working on a book project, off and on, for many years on the creativity that generated the Western Nevada County technology cluster, sparked by the arrival of Charles Litton in the 1950s. Historically, Nevada County has been a very creative place, with an extensive list of accomplishments, from Pelton wheel power plants to birth of the cartridge gaming industry starting with the Atari 2600, and of course, Grass Valley Groups video switching and editing innovations, to mention a few.
In the 1990s and 2000s, the Economic Resource Council struggled to stimulate local creativity, to find another Grass Valley Group, to expand the technology clusters that was the envy of communities throughout the Sierra. Some cities are spending millions to develop their version of the Western Nevada County technology cluster and failing. The Green Screen Institute is the latest Economic Resource Council effort to jump start a new technology cluster to capture the rising wind of Virtual and Augmented Reality.
Initially, I resisted VR, unable to come to grips with the idea that millions of people would be stumbling around with their eyes covered with a headset that removed them from the real world, to place them in a virtual world. My resistance to change was preventing me from seeing the potential of mixed virtual reality, the enhancement of our real world with information transmission devices described in The Fourth Transformations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, subtitled How Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence Change Everything.
“The lenses of smart glasses will look a lot like simple eyeglasses. People who have optical prescriptions will be able to get them with MR capability. These will contain tiny nano-technological screens that will appear as 90-inch TV screens six feet in front of you, creating an image density eight times greater than HDTV.”
OK, I now want a pair of the AR eyeglass described by Scoble and Isreal. I am ready for some augmented reality. The question is, does Western Nevada County want those augmented reality glasses? Is Tyler Cowen right, does the resistance to change inhibiting the development of new things, new processes, and new tools for living a more productive life? Are local citizens fighting change inhibiting the creativity of our current generation of VR and AR inventors and builders?
Your thoughts? Is Nevada County resistance to change damaging economic development initiatives?