Your Book Review: Where’s My Flying Car?

Taylor Aerocar III. (from Wikipedia, photo released into the public domain by the author).

Source: Astral Codex Ten.

Basically, Baby Boomers and the government made flying cars (as well as nuclear power and nanotechology) impossible. Hippies undermined the pre-existing cooperative culture that had enabled large business organizations to function and innovate, but government funding of science was directly counterproductive. A note from the review on the latter (quotations from the book):

“A survey and analysis performed by the OECD in 2005 found, to their surprise, that while private R&D had a positive 0.26 correlation with economic growth, government funded R&D had a negative 0.37 correlation!” “Centralized funding of an intellectual elite makes it easier for cadres, cliques, and the politically skilled to gain control of a field, and they by their nature are resistant to new, outside, non-Ptolemaic ideas.” This is what happened to nanotech; there was a huge amount of buzz, culminating in $500 million dollars of funding under Clinton in 1990. This huge prize kicked off an academic civil war, and the fledgling field of nanotech lost hard to the more established field of material science. Material science rebranded as “nanotech”, trashed the reputation of actual nanotech (to make sure they won the competition for the grant money), and took all the funding for themselves. Nanotech never recovered.

11 thoughts on “Your Book Review: Where’s My Flying Car?

  1. I never cross the road a the corner. Yep, I J-walk. It’s safer ’cause the bastards can only only hit you from one direction at a time. You want a flying car? Why? So they can hit you from above too?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The structural elements needed for a car like drive train and suspension weigh more than 400 pounds, minimum.

        The weight needed for collision safety is at least that much again.

        So, a 2 passenger flying car would need as much power as an 6 passenger airplane to fly safely.

        And your landing speed would be higher than most private pilots could handle, much less your average driver.

        Like

  2. Tens of thousands of people commute daily in just as outside Hampton Roads.

    Now put all those folks in the air and try to land near Dominion Tower if that is their office.

    Also, government funded research is often basic science that commercial enterprise won’t touch since it might not yield profits for decades. In other words, without government funding of the basic stuff, commercial enterprises might wait for years or decades.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here’s the money quote from the book review:

      “A survey and analysis performed by the OECD in 2005 found, to their surprise, that while private R&D had a positive 0.26 correlation with economic growth, government funded R&D had a negative 0.37 correlation!”

      What does it matter if private R&D doesn’t meet some abstract definition of “basic research”?

      Like

      1. Fine. Quit the basic research. Then find out how many companies are willing to spend money for decades without a ROI.

        What does the author want? Government to get into the manufacturing and selling also?

        Would we have gotten the COVID vaccine without government spending?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. RE: “Would we have gotten the COVID vaccine without government spending?”

          That’s an interesting question. We should probably ask it again once the true origins of Covid-19 become known. After all, government spending may have created the disease to begin with.

          Until we have enough information to assemble a Covid-19 case study, the case studies the book review describes (atomic energy, nanotechnology, and the flying car) already suggest that government spending on basic research is far from inherently beneficial.

          Like

          1. …”inherently beneficial…”?

            What does that mean? What span of time?

            I studied Latin for two years. Benefits? Hard to nail down profits, but for general knowledge and later use in understanding words, meanings in English, Spanish, French and even my native Swedish it proved useful.

            Knowledge IS power. And when knowledge takes a back seat, conspiracies can fill in the blanks.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. RE: “What does that mean? What span of time?”

            Inherently beneficial means that the benefits derive from the thing in itself, separately and apart from who produces the thing or how it is produced. When you write, for example, that “Knowledge IS power” you assert that the benefit of power is inherent in the thing called knowledge. It should be obvious, however, that the power you regard as beneficial in and of itself can be used for good or evil.

            In any case, I found this book review interesting enough to share for the very reason that it challenges the assumption that government can do anything the private sector does and do it as well or better. That, as quoted, government funded R&D doesn’t correlate with economic growth makes for a powerful challenge.

            Abstractly, What good is basic research when food, clothing, shelter (and flying cars) remain scarce?

            Like

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