With every new generation we solve more problems, but we must acquire an increasing amount of knowledge to solve those that remain.
This is the burden of knowledge theory, and it may explain why academic mathematicians and economists publish their first solo paper in a top journal 5 years later than they did in 1950 and 1970, respectively. Or why today’s Nobel laureates do their best work 5 years later than normal demographic changes would predict.
There’s only so much knowledge one can accumulate in the course of a lifetime.
You may be an Einstein, but that’s no guarantee that you will be an innovator today. The problems we face, such as the effects of climate change, are not only the hardest problems we’ve ever faced, they are also urgent.
While we wait for the next technological breakthrough, the best solution is for us to share both the burden of knowledge, and action.