"Manufacturing? America will own the mid-21st century. Geopolitical
instability and rising oil prices will wreck the late 20th-century
rationale for outsourcing. Chinese labor costs are rising 20% a year
while robotic costs are dropping by 30% a year. Do the math.
"Made in the USA
" is set to have a major comeback. The showstopper
will be 3-D printing, which makes physical objects from a digital file.
It will turn our artists into artisanal manufacturers and reward
American-style creativity (see related CD post here
on 3-D printing, featuring a 2011 Forbes article by Mr. Karlgaard).
Energy? America's natural-gas and shale oil boom will bridge us to
2030 or so when solar energy and algae-based fuels will be closer to
market parity and begin to make a real contribution. As long as I'm on
the topic of the natural-gas boom, what key technology made this happy
surprise possible? High-tech horizontal drilling. Who knew? We were all
too busy fiddling with our iPhone apps to see it coming.
Question: If America could have only one of the following—Facebook,
Twitter or horizontal drilling—which would be the smarter choice?
Happily, we don't have to make that choice. America remains the world's innovator, a country without limits."