We’re Entering a Golden Age of Invention

I got an incredible email from RiskHedge reader John about Elon Musk’s startup Neuralink, which implanted its first chip in a human’s brain last week:

Stephen, in today's Jolt, you led off with the question, "Elon Musk wants to put a chip in your brain. You in?" 

As someone who has been paralyzed from the waist down for the last seven years, my answer is, “OH, HELL YES!!” Give me the chip and a Swiss army knife, and I'll put the damn thing in myself!

This is exactly what I meant when I said, “Neuralink is an experimental new technology that will help people who can’t yet be helped.”

Technological innovation is the ultimate problem solver.

People used to die from routine infections… then, we invented antibiotics and vaccines.

The world used to shut down after sunset, so we invented the light bulb.

Hopefully, a decade from now I can write, “People used to be stuck in wheelchairs, until Neuralink came along.”

The media loves to cover the dark side of technology. And there is a dark side… for example, smartphones and social media are warping kids’ brains.

For Neuralink, the approved narrative seems to be: Dystopian Frankenstein mind-control device.

How about: Potential miracle cure for paralysis?

Neuralink is further proof we’re entering a golden age of invention.

Last decade, we got online dating and food-delivery apps. Now, innovators are  building Mars-bound rockets, developing cancer-killing pills, and helping paralyzed people to walk.

Future’s bright.

1. Remember this as critics lambaste Apple’s new VR goggles...

Apple (AAPL) released its new “virtual reality” headset, the Vision Pro, last Friday.

Here’s Apple CEO Tim Cook wearing one:

Source: Vanity Fair

I’ll sum up the reviews so far: Who in their right mind will spend $3,500 on a pair of dorky, bulky ski goggles?

True. But don’t you guys know your tech history?

It’s easy to mock the flaws of Version 1 of any product.

But this is the worst the Vision Pro will ever be. It’s only going to get better… faster… cheaper… sleeker… and more stylish.

Remember Apple’s Mac PCs?

The new Mac in 1999 cost $2,500 in today’s dollars. In 2024, you can buy a Mac that’s 4,000 times more powerful and much slimmer… for half the price.

Here they are side by side:

Source: Apple

Yes… Vision Pro V1 looks like a face snorkel. It’s too expensive, and it has a battery that lasts just two hours.

Vision Pro V4 will likely be a pair of lightweight glasses with see-through lenses… a battery that lasts five days without a charge… and a $1,500 price tag.

I’ve seen predictions that Vision Pro will usher in some dystopian nightmare where we’re all walking around like zombies with a computer on our face.

I’d argue we’re living that nightmare today, where we slouch and squint while we type on keyboards and bump into people on the street because our heads are stuck in our phones.

If Apple can fit all this tech into a pair of reading glasses, it’ll make computing far more natural.

I’ve criticized Apple for its lack of innovation and suggested you avoid its stock.

It’s great that Apple is pushing the boundaries and taking big swings once again. This is how progress is made.

But I haven’t changed my mind on its stock.

Vision Pro won’t move the needle for Apple sales anytime soon.

There are better moneymaking opportunities elsewhere, like buying great up-and-coming disruptors profiting from megatrends.

2. Today’s dose of optimism…

When I first read Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist in 2010, it changed my life. It helped me see what was right with the world instead of getting bogged down in the constant doom and gloom.

I learned almost as much rereading the book. The words on the page hadn’t changed, but I had.

Now that I’m a dad, here’s one great story that stuck with me:

A farm worker named William Turnbull, born in 1870… started work at 13, for sixpence a day, working six days a week, from 6 am to 6 pm, usually outdoors whatever the weather, with just Good Friday, Christmas Day, and half of New Year’s Day as his only holidays.

On market days, he started herding sheep or cattle to town, carrying a lantern, at 1 am or 2 am.

Thanks to technology and capitalism, we’re no longer forced to send our kids to work six days a week.

And check out this chart showing we’re blessed with 4X as much time to do whatever we want as our ancestors had in 1880:

Source: Fogel

Work less; leisure more. There’s never been a better time to be alive.

Related: Prepare for a Stock Market Correction