Great article (except for take on crypto) on the same themes we discussed over family new year dinner. Not only will the #Roaring20s be great, but the 2030s will be even better. We live at the most exciting time in human history. https://t.co/MtOkH4fVbR
I always enjoy some optimism at the start of a new decade, but the author is a bit too all over the place for me to take this as anything more than a list of “what-ifs”.
My personal optimism comes from the fact that we have invented a ton of general purpose technologies in the last 30 years, and observing past patterns of general purpose technologies, it generally takes a long time before all of the benefits can compound into getting the truly outsized ROIs we dream of. For example, it took 30 years for electrification and artificial lighting to fully alter the factory floor, but once it did, we were off to the races and the cost of durable equipment fell dramatically from the 20s onward. Repeat for practically every general purpose technology. The stagnation of the last 30 years, to me, is mostly because we had relatively few new general purpose techs emerge from the 60s-70s, instead we had lots of infill of specific applications of general purpose tech that had been discovered in earlier eras. In the 80s-10s, we had tons of general purpose tech developed, and we’ve been gradually reorienting society to take advantage of it, but that reorientation is costly and doesn’t show up as a positive on productivity during the discovery phase of us figuring shit out. But we are now exiting the discovery phase and about to hit a new era of exponential application of general purpose tech to every facet of life. My case for optimism is that the next decade is going to apply our now well-developed general purpose tech towards lots of expensive problems and tons of capital will be freed up as we liberate ourselves from some of humanity’s most intractable foes yet again.
There's a lot of hype in this article for future inventions but most of them, especially those most probable to happen, will not have much impact on TFP and the author spends zero effort to prove they will.
The entire premise of that article as explained in the first part is forgotten and pithily dismissed at the end with just this quote:
If we cure a bunch of diseases, slow down aspects of aging, realize cheap and emissions-free baseload energy, and deploy new modes of transportation and better construction technologies, we will almost certainly exceed 2 percent TFP growth.
However one point to note on the cultural import is that ending part of the stagnation might come from simultaneous growth in multiple fields, but the societal impact has to hit all segments to move us away from the feeling of polarisation. And not just in a redistributive sense but rather in a "labour stops being so substitutable so easily sense."