13 thoughts on “America 3.0: Bennett and Lotus on Lou Dobbs”

  1. I do think Jamie is seeing current technological development of more of a singularity than it actually is. He says:

    “When my grandfather was born in 1897, there was nothing that resembled the healthcare and technology of today – there were no cars, planes, phones, TVs or computers.:

    True enough. But there *was* electricity–and the telegraph and the telephone and the ocean-going steamship and a vast railway network—none of which things had existed when HIS grandfather was born, say in 1837. There was no TV, but there was photography and there was recorded music. There weren’t any CAT scanners or MRI machines, but there were anesthetics.

    I’d argue that the social and economic consequences of the 1837—>1897 changes in technology were at least as significant as the ones from 1897—->2013.

    More broadly, I think too many people are seeing today’s technological innovations as something unprecedented in history, rather than as a continuation of a trend which has been going on for several centuries now.

  2. I think David is correct in that advancements in technology are a continuation of a trend, however today’s innovations are coming at a much faster pace which give the appearance of something new and different.

  3. Jeff…”today’s innovations are coming at a much faster pace which give the appearance of something new and different”

    I’m not so sure about that. Railroads went from a curiosity to a dominant economic force and a key part of the everyday experience in less than 50 years, say from 1830 to 1870. Antibiotics, which must have had a huge impact on how people thought about life–imagine knowing that if you had 5 kids, it would be extremely unlikely that they would all make it to adulthood–were created and adopted over a fairly short time span. Aviation went from the Wright Brothers to the bombing of London in less than 15 years.

  4. I side with David on this.
    There are many arguments to suggest advancements are actually slowing

    A Possible Declining Trend for Worldwide Innovation:



    “Or take speed. In the 19th century horses and sailboats were replaced by railways and steamships. Internal-combustion engines and jet turbines made it possible to move more and more things faster and faster. But since the 1970s humanity has been coasting. Highway travel is little faster than it was 50 years ago; indeed, endemic congestion has many cities now investing in trams and bicycle lanes. Supersonic passenger travel has been abandoned. So, for the past 40 years, has the moon.

    Medicine offers another example. Life expectancy at birth in America soared from 49 years at the turn of the 20th century to 74 years in 1980. Enormous technical advances have occurred since that time. Yet as of 2011 life expectancy rested at just 78.7 years. Despite hundreds of billions of dollars spent on research, people continue to fall to cancer, heart disease, stroke and organ failure. Molecular medicine has come nowhere close to matching the effects of improved sanitation.”

    Recent studies suggest that while average life expectancy has increased, maximum lifespans have remained constant for possibly thousands of years.

    “Our days may come to seventy years,
    or eighty, if our strength endures;
    yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow”

    Psalm 90:10

  5. Recent slowing in innovation is a result of tax and regulatory burden. There are lots of innovations waiting on the sidelines. The iPhone should have analogs in every field. We should be seeing an “internet of atoms” by now. Healthcare and education are antiquated government monopolies and both could go through transformative changes. There are all kinds of things that are not being done on a big scale which could be. I recently drove in a Tesla. It is a breakthrough. We need hundreds more such breakthroughs. The America 2.0 state is the obstacle.

  6. That is not to say that it’s necessarily doom & gloom time.
    It certainly doesn’t have to be.
    Just that the old paradigm is exhausted and the new one is way, way overdue
    (as clearly stated in the America 3.0).
    Unfortunately, “Too Big to Jail” guys like Jamie Dimon are part of the problem.

  7. “We need hundreds more such breakthroughs. The America 2.0 state is the obstacle.”

    Sorry missed your comment.

  8. The bureaucratic America 2.0 has become a drag on innovation, but the low hanging fruit has also been plucked. Compare Edison to Jobs. So innovation suffers a double whammy.

  9. I think that a great deal of current innovation seems to be extensions of previous technology, e.g. using a computer to design and create a faster computer cpu. I agree that in many areas there hasn’t been paradigm shifting innovation like the telephone or steam engine in a long time. It has been many tiny incremental changes that accrue into substantial technology gains. Again, such as the power of personal computers.

    It seems to me that these small gains are daily occurrences. That is what I was trying to say.

  10. There is no low hanging fruit. Tyler Cowen is wrong. I read his essay. It’s good, but on the core point, he’s wrong.

    John Kenneth Galbraith in the 1960s said everything important had already been invented. He was a dope. Somebody in the patent office legendarily said something similar in 1900. Also wrong.

    There are tons of things that are only not “low hanging” because of government regulation and the gigantic waste of capital created and no other reason.

  11. Peter Thiel, the venture investor (also the guy who pays selected kids $100K to do something other than go to college) has argued that innovation has been focused narrowly on a small sector of computer-related companies, largely for reasons of government over-regulation…and that we’d better be enabled a more broadly-based innovative environment if we want to avoid an economic disaster. See article by Thiel and chess guy Gary Kasparov:


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