Technological innovation has permanently slowed down and so too will economic growth asserts Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon. Why? Because all of the low-hanging scientific and technological fruit has supposedly been plucked. You can invent broad technologies like electrification, the light bulb, plumbing and sanitation, the telephone, refrigeration, the internal combustion engine, and the digital computer only once. Therefore most new technologies will consist of slight improvements on the old ones and that will not propel future economic growth.
But have all broad technologies really been invented already? Blockchain, CRISPR, and machine learning are three core technologies whose elaborations during the next decade will conjure into existence a world with far less transactional friction, amazing cures, and much smarter machines. Microsoft’s Bill Gates is right when he observed: “I think the idea that innovation is slowing down is one of the stupidest things anybody ever said.” Happy New Year!