Over the years, so many well-respected and famous technologists have made the repeated mistake of overestimating the closeness of the future. Dreams of flying cars within a decade or two date back to the 1950s. There was a period after the discovery of DNA where people were sure we were close to unlocking full human cloning. More recently, we went through a phase where many thought we were within a few years of a cascade of life-extending techniques so they would live forever. Now many people think that immersive VR and AR, human-equivalent AI assistants, and full real-world autonomy are right around the corner.
It is easy to understand how this thinking happens in the tech community. In a sense, it is an overcorrection by technologists for what is considered normal human linear thinking. The physical world we occupy has very little compounding or exponential experiences. We don’t experience much calculus firsthand. So, the story goes, most people get poor training in future estimation and don’t understand how to think about compounding growth.