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This page contains all of the posts and discussion on MemeStreams referencing the following web page: What's Our 75-Year Tech Plan?. You can find discussions on MemeStreams as you surf the web, even if you aren't a MemeStreams member, using the Threads Bookmarklet.

What's Our 75-Year Tech Plan?
by Stefanie at 12:51 pm EDT, Mar 25, 2008

PC Magazine
Sascha Segan
March 17, 2008

What is really going to change the way our society works in the next 75 years? Will it be biotech? Quantum computing? Let's place some long bets.

The French railway system makes our poor Amtrak want to hide out in a freight yard somewhere, crying. Guillaume Pepy, the president of the French railway company SNCF, once explained to me why: To build decent infrastructure, he said, you need to have a 50-, 75-, or 100-year plan. With Amtrak constantly fighting for its life a year at a time, of course it's going to decay.

What does infrastructure have to do with thinking green? It's all about planning for the future. Green means sustainable, which means looking beyond short-term goals to see where we want to be in 75 years and how to get there. Otherwise, our environment and society will end up a lot more like Amtrak than like the French TGV.

Before you start mocking that there's no way we can predict or plan based on a 75-year time frame, think about radios, telephones, and highways. We're still working basically with the radio spectrum regulation system set up in 1927. The system of copper wires that gives our homes last-mile connectivity was set up more than a hundred years ago. Car culture is 100 years old. The national highway system you drive on daily was conceived in 1922.

Long-term plans aren't fixed, of course; they change with the times. But they give us goals and a focus beyond just pillaging resources in search of next-quarter profits. In a 1907 issue of Broadway Magazine, writers proposed a long-term plan for the Port of New York. They figured that much of New York's wealth comes from its port, and that by the year 2000 the city would have a population of about 15 million, with 19 million in the metro area. So they proposed moving the port from crowded New York Harbor to a huge new complex on Jamaica Bay.

That's a perfect example of how a 50-year plan can actually pan out. By 2000, New York had 8 million people in the city, but 21 million in the metro area. And much of the city's position as a world hub came from a huge port on Jamaica Bay: JFK Airport, which grew to its present proportions in the 1960s and 1970s.

Unfortunately, our political and economic systems are not designed for 75-year plans. Increased public ownership of companies, the day-trader stock-market culture, and flip-focused investors who want to pump and dump stock make for a society focused on short-term profits. To execute even one 75-year plan, we need a country of investors in it for the long haul. And in the area of tech, we need not one, but four 75-year plans.

The Plans

INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN. Thank goodness for the telecoms' frenzy of the late 1990s. The fiber they laid then gave us a leg up into the 21st century. But we need a serious plan for replacing copper and shoring up network backbones for massively more bandwidth-hungry services than ... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

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