Harry Browne

How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World, 1973

You are responsible for what happens to you (even if someone else offers to accept that responsibility), because you're the one who'll experience the consequences of your acts. You are the one who decides what is right and what is wrong—no matter what meaning others may attach to those words.... When you decide to take matters into your own hands, someone may ask you, "Who do you think you are? Who are you to decide for yourself in the face of society and centuries of moral teachings?" The answer is simple: You are you, the person who will live with the consequences of what you do. No one else can be responsible, because no one else will experience the consequences of your actions as you will. If you're wrong, you will suffer for it. If you’re right, you will find happiness. You have to be the one to decide. "Who are you to know?" It's your future at stake. You have to know.
  Arthur C. Clarke

Childhood’s End, 1953

The average working week was now twenty hours... but those twenty hours were no sinecure. There was little work left of a routine, mechanical nature.

Men's minds were too valuable to waste on tasks that a few thousand transistors, some photoelectric cells and a cubic meter of printed circuits could perform. There were factories that ran for weeks without being visited by a single human being. Men were needed for trouble-shooting, for making decisions, for planning new enterprises. The robots did the rest.

The existence of so much leisure would have created tremendous problems a century before. Education had overcome most of these, for a well stocked mind is safe from boredom. The general standard of culture was at a level which would have once seemed fantastic. There was no evidence that the intelligence of the human race had improved, but for the first time everyone was given the fullest opportunity of using what brain he had...

People could indulge in such whims, because they had both the time and the money. The abolition of armed forces had at once doubled the world's effective wealth, and increased production had done the rest. As a result, it was difficult to compare the standard of living of twenty first century man with that of any of his predecessors. Everything was so cheap that the necessities of life were free, provided as a public service by the community, as the roads, water, street lighting, and drainage had once been. A man could travel anywhere he pleased, eat whatever food he fancied without handing over any money. He had earned the right to do this by being a productive member of the community.

  Arthur C. Clarke

Profiles of the Future, 1958, 1972, p.1

Before one attempts to set up in business as a prophet, it is instructive to see what success others have made of this dangerous occupation—and it is even more instructive to see where they have failed. With monotonous regularity, apparently competent men have laid down the law about what is technically possible or impossible—and have been proved utterly wrong, sometimes while the ink was scarcely dry from their pens. On careful analysis, it appears that these debacles fall into two classes, which I will call "failures of nerve" and "failures of imagination."

The failure of nerve seems to be the more common; it occurs when even given all the relevant facts the would-be prophet cannot see that they point to an inescapable conclusion. Some of these failures are so ludicrous as to be almost unbelievable, and would form an interesting subject for psychological analysis. "They said it couldn’t be done" is a phrase that occurs through out the history of invention; I do not know if anyone has ever looked into the reasons why "they" said so, often with quite unnecessary vehemence.


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