Prediction Is Hard, Again

Kevin Drum has a series of long-term predictions. I agree with some of them (“online retail will continue to grow”) but I’m very skeptical about others (“solar panels will be getting cheaper”). I think his post is worth reading, thinking about, and discussing but I also think that it reflects the views of somebody who has a great respect for technology without having any interest in actually doing it himself or coming to understand its limitations.

Just as something to chew on, I think I’d say that the issues in a “tipping point” for medicine, driverless cars, and the surveillance state are all political and social rather than technological and that all of them could go either way.

As to why I’m skeptical about the cost of solar panels dropping, there I think the issue is technological. There is no Moore’s Law governing solar panels. For the last decade or so the decrease in their cost has largely been due to state subsidies, particularly on the part of China. Right now I think that the signs point to a decrease in these subsidies for what is being recognized as a niche technology.

3 comments… add one
  • ... Link

    About ten years ago InstaPundit was excited about a bunch of alleged breakthroughs that were going to make for cheap solar power generation. Doesn’t seem to have happened. Really cheap solar panels are becoming as mythical as fusion power generation or Sasquatch.

  • Guarneri Link

    “Really cheap solar panels are becoming as mythical as fusion power generation or Sasquatch.”

    Or broad based economic recovery, or regulatory reform, VA or IRS reform, or Middle East peace, or ObamaCare affordability and cost control, or military spending reform……………..

  • Guarneri Link

    “….recognized as a niche technology……”

    Hold on there. “Deep down in Florida, where the sun shines damn near everyday……” we have street lights that run all night off the solar panels that worked had all day. So we got THAT going for us.

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