Peter Thiel writes in Zero to One that despite our innovation in the specific area of information technology, we’re actually living through an era of overall technological stagnation. “Technology,” Thiel says, used to encompass everything from computers to rockets to energy. Today it means Silicon Valley, info tech, etc. It’s a narrower thinking.

I think what helps our “future building” efforts is a greater rootedness in historical learning and specifically human learning. In other words, in the humanities. Steve Jobs famously shared his vision for Apple “at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts.” This puts it pretty well: the new in harmony with the old. Coherence; that’s what culture and civilization are, at heart—a vision for the human good that’s kept in harmony.

If more of us grew up understanding who we are, and what unique place that’s been carved out for us in the universe, we might develop a more comprehensive sense of what is worth building. 

The best things are consciously built on the foundation of human experience. There’s no better place to become acquainted with the human experience than in the record each generation leaves, and that awaits discovery in the humanities.