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Examining the next step or two in technological acceleration
Looking at the long term history of economic and technological progress, the next step should be consistent 16-25% annual growth. What is required and what would it mean
Sunday, February 03, 2008 at 2:02 AM
Very interesting essay, Brain. The link between technological progress and economical growth is widely accepted, but I think the association is not simple and straightforward. In fact, this quote says it well :
"We love investing in technologies and business models that are able to shrink existing markets. If your company can take $5 of revenue from a competitor for every $1 you earn – let's talk!"
-- Josh Kopelman, Managing Director of First Round Capital
So far, technologies shrink certain markets, but open even bigger ones. And it seems that this trend is going to continue for the foreseeable future. However, long term, there is a possibility that we might see technological progress continue marching ahead but economical growth (measured in dollars exchanged per year) might not follow. That doesn't mean we'll get poorer. On the contrary, we'll be wealthier in the sense that we'll have a lot more things and services available to us, but we might pay less for them. Just like we don't have to pay to use an encyclopedia anymore, and we don't have to pay for open source software. So, economical growth might need to be redefined at some point.
Sunday, February 03, 2008 at 8:50 AM
I accept and recognize that old markets and industries get shrunk or displaced. However, I also see technological hypergrowth that is so strong that it does not need redefinitions to capture or see it. There might be some decoupling of progress from currency transactions, but if something akin to technological or economic growth is at 30-50% per year then there will be startling transformation at the physical level as well. Converting the matter of the solar system into a dyson shell of computronium would be a matter of when not if. 120 years to go through 7 rounds of doubling from 1903. If we kick up into another gear of faster growth, then 21-50 years for the next set of 7 rounds of doubling. (over times more after each set.) There was qualitative and definition changes from 1903 to now as well. Telecommunications was the telegraph
and now it is the internet, mobile phones, fax, and a lot of other businesses.
William Randolph Hearst was one of the richest men in 1903.
He had 28 newspapers read by 20 million people (did not reach that level until 1925). He also had big property. Hearst Castle, but did not own that land until 1919 (construction from 1919-1947).
A more modest modern approximation would still be a multi-millionaire. Someone with a bunch of popular blogs or websites to reach 5 million (lower than the 1920 figure to the 1903 level. Instapundit gets 250,000 per day, 7 million per month. I would guess $5-10/cpm. $35,000-70,000 per month. However, the staff to achieve that went way down. Nice big modern homes (30,000+sf) still very expensive. It would be easier and cheaper (but still expensive) to make a modern approximation of royalty from an earlier period. Certain things become cheaper and easier to make with better tech.
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