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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Are we stagnating?

Yesterday, typing on my Linux laptop, I put up a post celebrating the personal computer. I did that partially because I know that Robert Anton Wilson was a technological optimist who was (for a person his age) someone who had an early interest in personal computers.

Wilson often wrote about that technological acceleration. I believe he referred to it as the Jumping Jesus Phenomena.

Lately, though, some of my favorite thinkers have been writing about hiccups in that march toward technological progress.

Tyler Cowen has authored a short book called The Great Stagnation which argues that the reason the economy has performed so badly in recently isn't because of the liberals, the conservatives, the bankers or whoever your favorite perceived enemy is, but because there has been a slowdown in technological innovation. A few key decades in the 20th century produced the automobile, the airplane, electricity, radio, TV, the refrigerator, and many other innovations that helped drive the economy, Cowen says. He says that the rise of the Internet, however laudatory, hasn't yet had similar results.

Here is a similar article by Peter Thiel.

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