The phenomenon of seemingly trivial technologies becoming incredibly important happens because there is fog of war on the tech tree

If there is uncertainty of the structure of the tree going out into the future (which there is) it would sometimes be unclear whether a new node is the root node for a massive tree or a leaf. This uncertainty explains the repeated phenomenon where a new technology is viewed as ‘trivial’ but then creates new billion dollar markets - the personal computer, the airplane, etc.

The fog of war idea also explains why you actually see all four quadrants: Expected trivial things that turn out to huge, expected huge things that become huge, expected trivial things that remain trivial, expected huge things that turn out to be trivial. ::this feels a little weak::

The fog of war idea also explains Peter Thiel’s mental model of companies being built on ’secrets’ (Zero to One.) Technological secrets are just places where you know the future tree better than other people.

This interpretation of observed phenomenon reveals the tech tree model to be part of a deterministic worldview about the future. Whether or not we ever know the structure of the tree into the future is the line between definite and indefinite worldviews. A definite worldview means you believe the universe is deterministic, which would imply that the tech tree has structure regardless of whether or not you know it. Definite optimism still allows for unknowns.


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