Sunday, 13 December 2015

Technology and economic progress

Technology drives economic progress, as reported by the FT:
Futures Forum: Using technology to transform enterprise

Technological and economic progress has brought untold benefits to vast numbers of people:
Futures Forum: "Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century."

And the future is bright with technological promise:
Futures Forum: Creating/destroying jobs >>> Creative Destruction and Artificial Intelligence
Futures Forum: Artificial Intelligence: 'complements labor and increase its productivity'

These recent pieces are from the granddaddy of American think-tanks, namely the Foundation for Economic Freedom:
Foundation for Economic Education - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

97.5% Faster: Human Progress in the Last Century
Both shrinking and expanding the world

MARIAN L. TUPY Friday, December 04, 2015

The Telegraph has just published a fascinating map, showing how long it took to get from London to anywhere else in the world in 1914.

Created by John George Bartholomew, a British royal cartographer who worked for King George V… the colorful grid is sectioned by isochrones – lines that connect all the points on the map that are accessible within the same amount of time from London.

As you can see, to get from London to, for example, Sydney took between 35 and 40 days.

Today it takes 23 hours.

97.5% Faster: Human Progress in the Last Century | Foundation for Economic Education

Although this is contradicted by another piece from the Foundation from 2010, by Kevin Carson:

Here's another look at human progress:

Today, Everything's on Sale
The present is a bargain

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Wage appreciation, or lack thereof, does not tell us everything we need to know about our standard of living. Wages often fail to capture changes that come from competition and technological breakthroughs.

One — much underutilized — way in which we can get a sense of the improvements in our standard of living is to look at the number of hours an average employee needs to work in order to buy commonly used items.

When cost is measured in terms of hours worked, almost everything in 2015 is “on sale” when compared to the same product in 1979.

Consider two common kitchen appliances: the microwave and the refrigerator.

Those are some impressive discounts!

Look at the data for yourself and you will find that the trend of falling prices, when measured in hours of labor, is widespread. The main exceptions when it comes to the cost of living are the highly distorted healthcare, education, and housing markets.

In contrast, when market competition thrives, it tends to bring down prices and raise living standards for all of us.

This was first posted at HumanProgress.org.

Bonus chart: almost all tech is getting a lot cheaper, except cable television.

Everything Is on Sale Compared to the 1970s | Foundation for Economic Education 

Although, again, there's another way of seeing this, again from Kevin Carson, writing for the Foundation:
How "Intellectual Property" Impedes Competition | Foundation for Economic Education
How Technology Can Create Political Change - The Future of Freedom Foundation
The Homebrew Industrial Revolution | A Low Overhead Manifesto

Here's a further look at economic progress - this time from Hans Rosling and Matt Ridley:

3 Essential Hans Rosling Videos for Thanksgiving
The best time to be alive is today

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Hans Rosling is a Swedish doctor and statistician, and in his many talks and videos, he clearly and eloquently presents big-picture data about the world, human progress, and economic development.
Here are three essential Hans Rosling videos that make me grateful and excited to be alive today.
1) The Magic Washing Machine
2) 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes
3) Most of the World Is Better Off than You Think
What caused this explosion in living standards, in wealth, in life itself? Why did this happen where and when it did?
Well, as a bonus, here's science writer Matt Ridley and economist Deidre McCloskey:
Everybody Is Working for Everybody Else
Why Does 1% of History Have 99% of the Wealth?
3 Essential Hans Rosling Videos for Thanksgiving | Foundation for Economic Education

Hans Rosling has already featured on this blog:
Futures Forum: Artificial Intelligence: 'complements labor and increase its productivity'
Futures Forum: Cafe Scientifique meets to discuss "Population and Sustainability" - Tuesday 18th February

As has Matt Ridley:
Futures Forum: Climate change: Changing Climate @ Radio 4: the science
Futures Forum: Climate change: and the coal mining industry
Futures Forum: Sustainable development >>> land is not a limited resource >>> and there are no limits to growth

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