27 February 2015

Business Insider: “Dear Silicon Valley: Here’s your wake-up call”

It is true that the iPhone’s success has been so astounding that anyone who hypothesized it a decade ago would have been laughed out of town. And, if nothing else, the iPhone does serve as a reminder that the future is unpredictable and that sometimes fantastically amazing and unpredictable things do happen.

What the existence of the iPhone does not do, however, is guarantee that Apple is going to do the same thing in the car business that it did in the phone business.

The important story here is that some of the smartest minds in Silicon Valley appear to have stopped thinking critically. Instead, after being surrounded by 15 years of unbridled, unpredicted success in the face of highly vocal skepticism, they have gotten caught up in their own natural and admirable optimism and have begun to regard it as a given that anything they dream up will come to fruition.

Henry Blodget

I don’t usually read Business Insider (too many click-bait headlines), but this article certainly hits a sore spot. There are signs in the skyrocketing valuations of new apps, in the unreasonable expectations about Uber, in articles such as this one mixing random facts with uncritical assumptions – and in the euphoric reaction of people reading them. It’s alright and even healthy to think about what’s possible in the future and how we might deal with new technologies; it’s quite another to confuse possibilities with probabilities and act as if every bit of rumor, every prototype is an established fact. Silicon Valley is drunk on the future, but at some point it will have to sober up again.

Silicon Valley bubble vs boom graph

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