Will: This great run is probably over

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Robert Gordon's "The Rise and Fall of American Growth" argues that an unprecedented and unrepeatable "special century" of life-changing inventions has produced unrealistic expectations, so the future will disappoint: "The economic revolution of 1870 to 1970 was unique … . No other era in human history, either before or since, combined so many elements in which the standard of living increased as quickly and in which the human condition was transformed so completely." In many ways, the world of 1870 was more medieval than modern. Three necessities -- food, clothing, shelter -- absorbed almost all consumer spending. No household was wired for electricity.


Why automation may be more evolution than revolution

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Give us your feedback Thank you for your feedback. The talk was that automation was going to imperil the jobs of millions of workers, leading to an "industrial revolution of unmitigated cruelty". The concern was that robot weapons would run out of control, leading to unconscionable slaughter on a mass scale. The terror was that every degree of independence given to machines would increase the possible defiance of our wishes: "The genii in the bottle will not willingly go back in the bottle, nor have we any reason to expect them to be well disposed to us." These were not views expressed recently by some neo-Luddite.


Why Growth Will Fall

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Robert Gordon has written a magnificent book on the economic history of the United States over the last one and a half centuries. His study focuses on what he calls the "special century" from 1870 to 1970--in which living standards increased more rapidly than at any time before or after. The book is without peer in providing a statistical analysis of the uneven pace of growth and technological change, in describing the technologies that led to the remarkable progress during the special century, and in concluding with a provocative hypothesis that the future is unlikely to bring anything approaching the economic gains of the earlier period. The message of Rise and Fall is this. For most of human history, economic progress moved at a crawl. According to the economic historian Bradford DeLong, from the first rock tools used by humanoids three million years ago, to the earliest cities ten thousand years ago, through the Middle Ages, to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution around 1800, living standards doubled (with a growth of 0.00002 percent per year). Another doubling took place over the subsequent period to 1870. Then, according to standard calculations, the world economy took off. Gordon focuses on growth in the United States.


The Real Payoff From Artificial Intelligence Is Still a Decade Off

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It has been 21 years since IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer checkmated chess champion Garry Kasparov, marking a historic moment in the development of artificial intelligence technologies. Since then, artificial intelligence has invaded everyday objects, such as cell phones, cars, fridges, and televisions. But the world economy seems to have little to show for the proliferation of smartness. Among advanced economies, productivity growth is slower now than at any time in the past five decades. National GDPs and standards of living, meanwhile, have been relatively stagnant for years.


The Real Payoff From Artificial Intelligence Is Still a Decade Off

#artificialintelligence

It has been 21 years since IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer checkmated chess champion Garry Kasparov, marking a historic moment in the development of artificial intelligence technologies. Since then, artificial intelligence has invaded everyday objects, such as cell phones, cars, fridges, and televisions. But the world economy seems to have little to show for the proliferation of smartness. Among advanced economies, productivity growth is slower now than at any time in the past five decades. National GDPs and standards of living, meanwhile, have been relatively stagnant for years.