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Quora Answer : Who would be more amazed: a person from 1900 transported to 1960, or a person from 1960 transported to 2018? Take into account both technological and cultural progress.

Oct 2, 2018

Certainly 1900 - >1960

Amazed at how big the buildings have become.

Amazed at commercial flights around the world. People dreamed, but who would imagine it would be affordable to fly anywhere within a couple of days?

Amazed at the beginnings of space exploration. (Obviously we're a year away from Gagarin and 10 years away from moon landings, but the direction of travel would be obvious)

Pretty impressed by radio and television. Radio they kind of know of. But television! Wow!

Amazed in a bewildered horror at hearing about the first and second world wars and the catastrophic destruction they wrought. And the holocaust.And the atomic bomb. Your average European / American from 1900 would find it hard to imagine that the comfortable, optimistic and peaceful world of the turn of the 20th century could collapse into such senseless barbarity.

Somewhat surprised by the takeover of Russia and China by communism. Possibly disappointed that it isn't going better.

Your 1960s guy in 2020 will, of course, find the internet wonderful. Be seriously impressed by smart-phones with multi-touch screens. And the degree to which computers are so much smaller and faster.

And be fairly impressed by where we've got in terms of AI.

The problem is, though, that they will already have had quite a lot of exposure via science fiction to the idea of robots and thinking machines. They're as likely to be wondering "if these computers are so smart, how come we don't have robots yet?"

Wot? No flying cars?

They'll be pleasantly relieved that there hasn't been a nuclear war.

They'll be glad that humans got to the moon, but disappointed that manned space exploration petered out after that.

They'll be surprised by the prominence of gay rights concerns in mainstream political discourse. And by gay marriage being a thing. Whereas, depending on where they're from, they'll either think that race relations have improved a bit or been fairly static.

Quora Answer : Why did technology develop so rapidly in the last 100 years, but for such a long time it developed so slowly?

Jan 19, 2018

Everything has been compounding. Everything is multiplying everything else.

The industrial revolution kicked off increases in productivity, more engineering knowledge, more scientific knowledge, particularly thermodynamics, chemistry, electricity, materials science. Chemistry gave us fertilizers and increased agricultural productivity. Then biosciences gave us the germ theory of disease followed by various new medicines and then antibiotics. Which has kept far more humans alive. And therefore far more people thinking about and solving problems. Electricity gave us telegraph, telephone, radio, television all of which helped spread knowledge and education. Finally electronics gave us computing and control automation which have boosted manufacturing productivity even further. Improved education even further. And is now leading to AI and large models of complex systems which will help with further design of materials, drugs, optimized machines and processes. And further analysis in biology and ecology.

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