What Can We Learn from Horses and CompuServe? AI’s Surprising Historical Echoes

by | Nov 12, 2023

As we ride the crest of the AI wave, it’s hard not to feel a sense of déjà vu. Remember the early 1900s, when automobiles were just hitting the roads? Or the 1980s, when the internet was more a concept than a reality? These were times of massive change, marked by uncertainty and excitement. The parallels with today’s AI landscape are striking and, frankly, a bit amusing.
The Great Auto Shuffle: A Time of Turbulence and Triumph

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to the early 20th century. The streets were a jumble of horses and cars, a real-life bumper car arena minus the rubber bumpers. There were so many car manufacturers that it seemed like anyone with a wrench and a dream was trying to build a car. Seriously, who can remember all their names? Amidst this chaos, one thing was clear: the horse’s days as the king of the road were numbered.
Key Takeaways:

Uncertain Winners, Certain Losers: Predicting the future automotive giants was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But one loser was clear: sorry, Mr. Ed, the horses were out.

The Internet’s Awkward Teenage Years: From Dial-Up to Dominance

Now, fast-forward to the 1980s. The internet was the new kid on the block, awkward and slow (remember dial-up?). Giants like CompuServe and AOL were the cool kids, leading the digital revolution. But, as with high school fame, things change. Many of these early trailblazers are now just a nostalgic memory – “You’ve got mail”, anyone?
Key Insights:

Forgotten Giants: Today’s internet behemoths weren’t always on top. Spare a thought for the CompuServes of the world.
Telecom’s Missed Call: Traditional telecom companies, much like our horse friends earlier, missed the memo. The internet wasn’t just for browsing; it was the new way to talk.

AI Today: The Frontier of the Unknown

The AI scene today feels a bit like a rerun of these past revolutions. There’s a mix of excitement, fear, and a whole lot of venture capital. Like the early car manufacturers, today’s AI companies are a diverse bunch. And just like the internet era, it’s hard to predict who the giants will be. Will the current leaders stay on top, or will they be the AOLs of AI?
Pondering Points:

AI’s Unwritten Future: Who will be the Ford and who will be the… well, you know, the hundreds of forgotten car makers?
Learning from History: As with horses and telecom companies, some current technologies are bound to become obsolete. The question is, which ones?

Conclusion: The Road Ahead

In the grand tapestry of technological evolution, AI is the latest thread. It’s a thrilling, unpredictable ride. The key takeaway? Change is the only constant, and predicting the future is a tricky business. But hey, let’s enjoy the ride, learn from the past, and maybe place a friendly bet on who the future AI giants will be. After all, who doesn’t love a good underdog story?


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