This time it’s different

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The Devil’s Advocate

Hedgeye nails it.[1]


In which the curmudgeonly old sod puts the world to rights.

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With every single technological advance, from the invention of writing to the invention of television, those who have failed to appreciate the non-zero-sum nature of technological evolution have prophesied doom and been proven wrong. Every time, they have made some version of the argument: this time it is different, and been proven wrong.

Venkatesh Rao, Breaking Smart: Season One

What’s truly amazing about these times is that we have more access than ever before to material that demonstrates the continuity and repetitiveness of history, including evidence of the insistence by critics of all eras that this time is different, yet so many still buy into the pyramid scheme that we are special. It is both self-aggrandising and self-exonerating; it feels right.

—Lauren Oyler, London Review of Books


Stiffen your sinews if you hear this one.

A laundry list of times everyone agreed it was different, but it wasn’t:

  • We have eliminated boom and bust. — © Gordon Brown, April 2000.
  • It’s the end of history. We libtards have won. — © Francis Fukuyama, 1992
  • How you value businesses without reference to cashflow or profitability. — © every investment banker ever, in the run-up to the dotcom bust in 2000
  • We have efficiently allocated risk to those best placed to bear it through credit derivatives. — © every investment banker ever, in the run-up to the global financial crisis, 2004-8
  • Mark-to-market accounting of future income streams in a market that doesn’t exist yet is sensible. — © Arthur Andersen[2] Jeff Skilling and the crazy gang at Enron, continually up to October 2001
  • The Singularity is definitely going to happen, and the universe will wake up, rewriting the laws of physics as we know them etc. — © Ray Kurzweil, 2005.
  • Software is eating the world. — © Marc Andreessen, 2009
  • The machines are going to take over, breed us in slimy pods as battery fuel for Skynet which the machines will need because um they just will. Look! Chess-playing supercomputers! — © Daniel Susskind, A World Without Work
  • Everyone is going to be nice to each other now Generation Z is in control and we have taken out and shot all the old white men. — © Every millennial, and millennial apologist ever, 2018 -.

See also

References