Any technology you look deeply enough at, you will find an earlier version was passed over and never developed ... and that was when the West had far more verve and energy than today. The sickly, feebleminded, limpid-eyed denizens of the rubble once known as civilization would be hard pressed to use toilet paper instead of their hand.
I gather from my personal experience over the past half century that such things are utterly irreversible. Praying for last minute wunderwaffen is not realistic. All the talk of tech pulling the West out of this hole is so much boosterism for fiat currency.
They are trying to get the undead creatures who inhabit the wastelands onto their feet for one last consumer splurge but they're all out of juice. This is the end. What wonderful timing for the Maunder Minimum. Is it so far out to suggest that somehow these things must be related to one another at some profound level? As the sun prolapses and goes dormant, so have the souls of the beasts whose ancestors once stood atop the world like colossi.
Those times are over. They will never return. Too many wrong turns to ever find their way back to that magical formula. All the ingredients of success are lacking and nowhere to be found.
All the smart money is on deep underground vaults. It's the last investment boom before the end comes.