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What I'm Reading: On being optimistic about the future

"Skateboarder Tony Hawk landed a 900 – two and a half spins – at the 1999 X Games. It was the biggest achievement the sport had ever seen, the equivalent of the four-minute mile. It catapulted Hawk into legend status. His video game came out a year later and sold 30 million copies. Six Flags named a rollercoaster after him.

But here’s the craziest part of this story: fifteen years later, an eight-year-old landed a 900.

Hawk was also the first person to land a 720 (two spins) – a feat later accomplished by a second-grader.

A lot of sports work like that.

Just qualifying for the Boston Marathon today requires a time that, 100 years ago, would put you within nine minutes of a world record. A gold-medal gymnast 70 years ago would not make the cut in a local youth competition today.

Does the same hold true for technology, science, and business?

Of course. A first-year med student today likely has more medical knowledge than an experienced senior doctor did 50 years ago. The average eight-year-old today knows things about technology that a computer science professor 30 years ago would find bewildering.

Innovation and advancement tend to compound. One person raises the bar over the previous limit, and that becomes the baseline for a new generation to aim for and build upon.

Part of that is a simple generational knowledge transfer. It’s pure compounding: People spend years or decades discovering a new truth, then the next generation begins their careers with those new truths."

Morgan Housel - Justifying Optimism

Formatting mine.


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