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LaunchPad

Why We're Optimistic About The Future

β€” Alexandra Ardelean

Dalton and Michael

We're optimistic about the future. We work at YC, a company that funds startups. Most startups fail, and we have more knowledge about failing than success. We see failed startups daily and are experts on failure.

Successful startups take around 12 years to turn a profit. That's a long time to wait for a return on investment. So, we want to offer you reasons for optimism despite the slow ROI and high startup failure rate.

We believe young people should be optimistic about the future. Here's why.

Perspective on News

News is negative. It's easy to think the world is getting worse when you read the news. This is especially true in technology stories.

But things are better than they seem. Let's look at some improvements since the 90s.

Improvements Since the 90s

In the 1990s, if you wanted information, you had to purchase an encyclopedia on CD-ROM. Nowadays, you can access any information for free on the internet.

In the 1990s, if you wanted to watch a video, you had to purchase or rent a VHS cassette. Nowadays, you can view any video free of charge on YouTube.

In the 1990s, if you wanted to talk to someone far away, you had to use one phone line. Now, you can use multiple free communication apps with video, audio, and text capabilities.

In the 1990s, if you wanted directions, you had to print out MapQuest directions. Now, you can use GPS on your smartphone for free.

In the 1990s, if you fell ill, there were limited treatment options and healthcare access was more restricted. Nowadays, life expectancy has increased, infant mortality has decreased, and a smaller percentage of the population lives in extreme poverty.

In the 1990s, if you wanted entertainment such as films or television programmes, you had to pay for them or wait for them to be broadcast on television. Nowadays, there is piracy and streaming services that provide access to all of this content for free or at a low cost.

These improvements weren't immediately apparent when they were happening in the '90s, but it's clear in hindsight how much better things are today.

Reflection on Past Innovations

The authors reflect on how these improvements were not immediately apparent when they were happening in the 90s.

These improvements weren't immediately apparent when they were happening in the '90s, but it's clear in hindsight how much better things are today.

Current Technological Advancements

The authors mention Starlink as an example of an idea that seemed far-fetched but is now a reality.

For example, I remember when Starlink was announced as an idea. People thought it was crazy and would never work because it was too expensive and difficult to launch thousands of satellites into space. But now it's a reality and has already started providing internet access to remote areas around the world.

They also discuss Cruise's self-driving cars as a personal experience that highlights technological advancements in transportation safety.

I recently rode in a self-driving car from Cruise in San Francisco. It was incredible how well it worked and how safe it felt compared to human drivers. I remember when self-driving cars were just a dream and people thought they'd never become a reality due to the immense technical challenges. But now they're becoming a reality, and soon they may even be safer than human drivers.

Renewable energy is mentioned as an affordable option that was once considered futuristic in the 90s but is now commonplace.

I also remember when people thought renewable energy like solar and wind power would never be affordable enough to compete with fossil fuels. But now they're cheaper than coal and natural gas in many parts of the world and are rapidly replacing them as the primary source of electricity generation.

The authors express excitement about the potential for rocket travel to make long-distance trips much faster in the future due to decreasing costs of space travel technology.

I'm also excited about the potential for rocket travel to make long-distance trips much faster in the future. SpaceX has already reduced the cost of launching payloads into space by an order of magnitude with their reusable rockets, and other companies like Blue Origin are working on similar technologies. Once these technologies mature, we could see suborbital rocket flights that can transport people anywhere on Earth in less than an hour at a reasonable cost.

Challenges to Optimism

The authors discuss how people's perspectives can be skewed by political polarization and unrealistic expectations of technology without trade-offs.

However, many people have become more pessimistic about the future due to political polarization and unrealistic expectations of technology without trade-offs. They see problems like climate change or income inequality getting worse and think that we're heading towards a dystopian future where only a few people benefit from technological progress while everyone else suffers.

The pacing of innovation is noted as inconsistent across different sectors of the economy, leading to debates about unsolved problems overshadowing progress made in other areas.

Another reason why some people are pessimistic about the future is that innovation doesn't happen at the same pace across all sectors of the economy. For example, we've made incredible progress in information technology over the past few decades, with smartphones and the internet revolutionizing how we communicate and access information. But other sectors like healthcare or education have seen slower progress, with many unsolved problems overshadowing any incremental improvements that have been made.

Conclusion

The authors are excited for their children to grow up in a world with even more advancements than they have experienced. They encourage optimism and active participation in creating a better future rather than cynicism and inaction.

Overall, I'm excited for my children to grow up in a world with even more technological advancements than I've experienced so far in my life. And I hope that they'll be optimistic about what's possible rather than cynical about what might go wrong along the way.

So instead of being pessimistic about all these challenges we face as a society today - whether it's climate change or income inequality - let's be part of creating solutions together so that our children can grow up in a better world than we did!