How Technology Grows (a restatement of definite optimism)

This is a long and somewhat rambling piece that puts forth an opinion and perspective on several topics that are worthy of consideration. In the author’s opinion:

– We need a greater emphasis on process knowledge (in the US).

– We should strive for and focus on a high-growth economy (a constant 3% or more)

– Definite optimism is a form of human capital and determinant of economic growth

These perspectives manifest themselves in a great desire to see the US invest more in industry (e.g. building physical things) and retaining our hard won and tacit process knowledge.

… we have two big biases when we talk about technology. First, we think about it too much in terms of tools and recipes, when really we should think about it more in terms of process knowledge and technical experience. Second, most of us focus too much on the digital world and not enough on the industrial world.

The article is a thoughtful and nuanced take that bemoans the loss of manufacturing jobs, the emphasis on services instead of physical goods, the overwhelming focus on digital technology and the flow of talent into wall-street instead of industry. But like many others who have written about these things, the author exhibits a nostalgia for a past that is, at best, being viewed through rose-colored glasses. This biases the evidence he cites to support his perspective and causes him to ignore evidence that, for example, service and digital artifacts can indeed deliver significant value.

One cannot argue that the US has let go of certain manufacturing sectors when it probably should not have. But the author’s argument that it is process knowledge that is the most important driver of our economic engine isn’t necessarily compelling. Nonetheless, the author’s rallying cry of ‘definite optimism’ as a driver of growth is compelling and is something we need more of today.

Original Article »

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