Ben Bernanke on the future

In a commencement speech for this years graduates of Simon’r Rock … a Massachusetts college, Ben Bernanke:

A few of the facts that Bernanke cites:

  • Between 1700 and 1970, he notes, worker productivity has jumped approximately 30x.
  • Just in the last  50 years, life expectancy has jumped by 8 years, from 70, to 78.
  • In 1913, life expectancy was a mere 53 years.
  • In 1913, 60-hour work weeks at exhausting manufacturing jobs were the norm.

So then Bernanke asks whether the long-run will see massive changes in technology and life improvement like we’ve seen since 1913 and 1963.

Bernanke answers unequivocally yes, based on the fact that the world is seeing more and more innovators and geniuses working together in a way like never before:

…pessimists may be paying too little attention to the strength of the underlying economic and social forces that generate innovation in the modern world. Invention was once the province of the isolated scientist or tinkerer. The transmission of new ideas and the adaptation of the best new insights to commercial uses were slow and erratic. But all of that is changing radically. We live on a planet that is becoming richer and more populous, and in which not only the most advanced economies but also large emerging market nations like China and India increasingly see their economic futures as tied to technological innovation. In that context, the number of trained scientists and engineers is increasing rapidly, as are the resources for research being provided by universities, governments, and the private sector. Moreover, because of the Internet and other advances in communications, collaboration and the exchange of ideas take place at high speed and with little regard for geographic distance. For example, research papers are now disseminated and critiqued almost instantaneously rather than after publication in a journal several years after they are written. And, importantly, as trade and globalization increase the size of the potential market for new products, the possible economic rewards for being first with an innovative product or process are growing rapidly. In short, both humanity’s capacity to innovate and the incentives to innovate are greater today than at any other time in history.

But that does not mean there is no ceiling on technological innovation. I think we are hitting tech-ceilings, and no matter how many people are thinking it may be we just can’t break out. Bernake’s job is to promote optimism. There is NOTHING special about this man’s view of the current worked or of the future. He is obviously using erroneous logic regarding his projection of growth: : “The way it has been in the past is the way it will continue to be” with an “even better now” tacked on.
Think of it this way: We are still using jet engines, chemical fuel rockets, vaccines, toothbrushes….all stuff conceive in the first 60% of the LAST century. All the innovation I see is virtual, digital, which is nice and may take our growth somewhere….but this isn’t limitless.
Fizikālajiem resursiem ir robežas, jā. Bet cilvēces intelektuālie resursi, mūsu veidotā un jaunradītā komplicētība, līdzīgi kā dzīvībai piemēroti apstākļi uz šīs planētas (Saules mūžs), praktiski ir neierobežoti. Ja Homo sapiens pārnesīs savu apziņu un saprātu uz silīciija kristālu (vai   līdzīgu fizikāli stabilu) vidi, cilvēces attīstības iespējas būs praktiski neierobežotas. I.V. 

About basicrulesoflife

Year 1935. Interests: Contemporary society problems, quality of life, happiness, understanding and changing ourselves - everything based on scientific evidence. Artificial Intelligence Foundation Latvia, Editor.
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