Does anybody notice anything weird going on here?

Scenario A: Transport in Cities

In 1951 New York city traffic looked like this:

And two generations later in 2011 it looked like this

Scenario B:  Electronic Transport

In 1951 a computer looked like this:

And in 2011 it looked like this:

# # #

What’s the point?

To get a grip on this striking comparison, a first step might usefully be to take note of the fact while Scenario A has steadily declined world-wide over the last two generations, Scenario B has seen an unimaginable increase in efficiency and sheer power on the order of trillions of times.

Now some may conclude that this difference is a result of the fact that we have not applied enough technology to Scenario A.  I would beg to differ. It is because we have not applied enough brains.

# # #

About the editor:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at and @ericbritton

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2 thoughts on “Does anybody notice anything weird going on here?

  1. Maybe there is another more important precondition to both developments to drivers as they have done: people cannot be compressed by any means (they are still 1.8 m tall and weighing some 70-90 kgs each); while information on data carriers has compressed by a factor 10^6 or 10^9. The main innovation to help solve the people transport issue seems to use more appropriate vehicles, thus replace with a bicycle most of the cars in the picture, which is not so much using a huge amount of brains by a few whiz kids, but just a little bit by the billions!

    All the best,


  2. @Paul
    Of course, especially when using private motor vehicles, the majority of space used for transport is not actually for humans. Walking, mass-transit, bicycles, etc, are all vastly more space-efficient…


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