Conservatives recognize that government is not the only, nor even most powerful of human forces. This means we should not miss the revolutions occurring as Washington acts out its melodrama of manufactured crises.
Consider that despite President Obama’s best attempts to centralize power in the bureaucracy, during the past few years the American people have:
- Developed desktop 3D-printers which can manufacture almost any object you can imagine within a few minutes. You can buy these devices for roughly the cost of a laptop and print out, in plastic, anything you can design on your computer, or any 3D models from an online library. You can then send away to a website like Shapeways to have the design printed in stainless steel, silver, or ceramic. People are only beginning to understand the enormous possibilities for industry, logistics, education, science and medicine. This video provides is a great short explanation.
- Carried regenerative medicine to the point of growing people new organs using their own cells. In fact, we will be able to 3D-print new organs using live cells within the foreseeable future. In this video Dr. Anthony Atala of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine explains how they are growing replacement bladders in incubators using patients’ own cells.
- Created intelligent, autonomous drones for civilian use. You might have heard of drone military aircraft (especially after Senator Rand Paul’s impressive filibuster this week) but soon civilians will have access to drones of all sizes as well. The potential for cargo shipping, transportation, public safety and more is extraordinary. This video of a University of Pennsylvania lab shows a whole swarm of personal drones.
- Pioneered the development of a driverless car. In addition to autonomous aircraft, Americans might soon travel in cars controlled completely by artificial intelligence. Sebastian Thrun at Google leads a team that created a car which has driven hundreds of thousands of miles autonomously on California roads. The implications for safety and quality of life are incalculable. He explains the project in this video. This Audi already parks itself automatically.
- Launched private spacecraft, without NASA. Sir Richard Branson and others have independently developed private spacecraft which are prepared to carry paying customers on suborbital flights and beyond. Last week, SpaceX became the first private company to resupply the International Space Station. Branson discusses Virgin Galactic in this video.
- Made a high quality education available to everyone online, for free. Salman Khan, a former hedge fund analyst, has recorded thousands of hours of free lessons on everything from basic biology to calculus, in a project that started as a way to help his younger cousins catch up in school. Today, his ever-expanding collection of lessons is known as Khan Academy. They have been viewed more than 244 million times. In some schools, teachers now assign students to take the lessons at home and to do their homework in class — where the teacher can help kids if they get stumped. Salman Khan talks about project in this video.
Several of these developments may be at least as important as the computer revolution of the past two decades.
This gives us overwhelming cause for optimism. After all, this is occurring even as we are stuck with a government trapped in the past, the legacy system that is the federal bureaucracy.
The charades playing out in Washington among prisoners of the past are not the most significant events for our economy. They are certainly not the most important stories of our time.
Americans working together on projects like this, our pioneers of the future, will do more to grow the economy, more to expand freedom and opportunity, and more to shatter bureaucracy than Washington ever will. In that sense, at least, the city is already nearly as insignificant as we would like it to be.
Send us your own stories or videos of pioneers of the future at GingrichProductions.com/pioneers.
P.S. Speaking of petty antics in Washington, the President’s suspension of White House tours is an example of the administration’s “maximum pain for political gain” sequestration game. As I said On the Record with Greta Van Susteren the other day, couldn’t the White House solicit private donations to keep the tours open? Or at least make its expenditures available online so we can see if cutting them is really necessary?