American growth could be higher than the pessimists think!

Petroleum-Zuid Antwerp

Petroleum-Zuid Antwerp (Photo credit: LHOON)

Robert Gordon’s essay “Is U.S. Economic Growth Over?” is very intriguing.  His thesis is that technological progress does not always yield the same growth and productivity for each major invention.  It could be that some technologies, such as Electricity, Engines, Petroleum and even mundane things such as running water and indoor toilets, may have yielded far greater growth through their introduction that current technologies such as computers and the internet.

These high growth technologies as well as the previous generation of modern agriculture and steam power, were very physical technologies.  They took up space and altered space.  They needed labor for their development, construction and even use.  They reshaped the physical world with railroads, roads, buildings, factories etc.

Are there any new technologies that have this sort of impact?  Maybe space travel and genetics, which both could create physical changes in our world (or bodies).  New power sources will still be delivered as electricity.  Cars may drive themselves, and the design may change, but they are still fundamentally vehicles for personal travel.  Factories may become robotic, but will the washing machine they make be fundamentally different?

It does seem in some way that these earlier physical technologies had greater ability to spur economic growth as they required so much labor and capital to develop.  Maybe current and future technologies, while exciting, won’t have the same impact on growth.

Robert J. Gordon has a new NBER working paper ‘essay that really should cite Tyler Cowen, since it’s all about a Great Stagnation in U.S. growth. Unlike Cowen, however, Gordon believes that the Stagnation will persist into the indefinite future. The paper is really two essays in one – the first part speculates that most of the big discoveries and inventions have already been made, and the second part identifies social and institutional constraints on U.S. growth. (Here are thoughts on the paper by FT Alphaville and Paul Krugman ). Although there are some parts of the paper with [...]

Click here to view original web page at noahpinionblog.blogspot.com

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Andrew McAfee: Are droids taking our jobs?

Great talk by Andrew McAfee who is the co-author of Race Against the Machine.  He sees a future where machines are replacing human work at an accelerating rate.  It is already happening and will spread to the most unexpected areas of the economy.  While it is hard not to agree with his rosy vision of a future where our minds are augmented with digital computing, the hard part is how we get there.

The advent of the industrial revolution was a brutal time of wars, subjugation, immense fortunes and immense poverty as we moved our whole population from agriculture to industry.  How can a fundamental change to the economy, of labor providing wages providing consumption, be upended without huge societal upheaval?

Robots and algorithms are getting good at jobs like building cars, writing articles, translating — jobs that once required a human. So what will we humans do for work? Andrew McAfee walks through recent labor data to say: We ain’t seen nothing yet. But then he steps back to look at big history, and comes up with a surprising and even thrilling view of what comes next.

Click here to view original web page at www.ted.com

Synthesis of Man and Machine

Factory Automation with industrial robots for ...

I think Jim Pinto brings up some great points here about the ‘feel’ that people bring to an automated environment.  Robots and automated systems are fast and efficient, but they don’t have the adaptability and judgement to handle change and non-standard environments.

What this means for employment is that we increasingly need people who can recognize unusual conditions, react to them and make judgements and decisions.  Pushing this down to the factory floor (or the window observatory!) will mean that we need broadly educated and highly capable people.  Not a recipe for big employment gains.

While automation typically provides consistent performance, it lacks judgment, adaptability and flexibility under changing conditions. Humans provide the “feel” that makes them the most important element of production and control systems.

Enhanced productivity comes by optimizing the human element. People provide the peripheral vision; they fill in the gaps and create the broader context in ways that machines cannot. This partnership is the man/machine framework.

Click here to view original web page at www.automationworld.com

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Apr 15

The Future of Economic Progress

Slowly but surely, the debate about the nature of economic growth is entering a new phase. The emerging questions are sufficiently different from those of recent decades that one can sense a shift in the conceptual framework that will structure the discussion of economic progress – and economic policy – from now on. The first question, concerning the potential pace of future economic growth, has given rise to serious disagreement among economists. Robert Gordon of Northwestern University, for example, believes that the US economy will be lucky to achieve 0.5% annual  per capita  growth in the medium term. Others, [...]

Apr 15

The future of economic progress

WASHINGTON, DC – Slowly but surely, the debate about the nature of economic growth is entering a new phase. The emerging questions are sufficiently different from those of recent decades that one can sense a shift in the conceptual framework that will structure the discussion of economic progress – and economic policy – from now on.

The first question, concerning the potential pace of future economic growth, has given rise to serious disagreement among economists. Robert Gordon of Northwestern University, for example, believes that the US economy will be lucky to achieve 0.5% annual per capita growth in the medium [...]

Apr 15

The future of economic progress

The future of economic progress

Photo Credit:REUTERS/ Jamal Saidi
WASHINGTON, DC – Slowly but surely, the debate about the nature of economic growth is entering a new phase. The emerging questions are sufficiently different from those of recent decades that one can sense a shift in the conceptual framework that will structure the discussion of economic progress – and economic policy – from now on. The first question, concerning the potential pace of future economic growth, has given rise to serious disagreement among economists. Robert Gordon of Northwestern University, for example, believes that the US economy will be lucky to achieve 0.5% annual [...]

Apr 15

The Future of Economic Progress

The Future of Economic Progress

Kemal Derviş, former Minister of Economic Affairs of Turkey and former Administrator for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), is Vice President of the Brookings Institution. read more Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space WASHINGTON, DC – Slowly but surely, the debate about the nature of economic growth is entering a new phase. The emerging questions are sufficiently different from those of recent decades that one can sense a shift in the conceptual framework that will structure the discussion of economic progress – and economic policy – from now on.

The first question, concerning the potential [...]

Apr 15

“Intelligent automation involves the employees”

EU e-Privacy Directive

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View e-Privacy Directive Documents I agree A heavyweight faces up to the change: POLAR-Mohr has been leading in cutting machine manufacturing for decades. On the one hand, the Hofheim-based company responds to the change with flexible compact cutting machines for the automated process environments in digital printing. On the other hand, it expands the spectrum of its target industries and in this connection also relies on strategic [...]

Apr 14

The Global Search for Education: Education and Jobs

The Global Search for Education: Education and Jobs

" The Future of Employment study makes clear that what matters most today is what you can do with what you know, rather than how much you know. "
– Dr. Tony Wagner

What does today’s technology mean for tomorrow’s jobs and how can we better structure our education system to ensure that the future working population can prosper in the labor market?
A large range of 20th century jobs are endangered by the machine age. A recent O xford Martin School study by Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey (Oxford Martin School) and Dr. Michael A. Osborne [...]

Apr 14

Jim Stogdill

Jim Stogdill

Jim Stogdill heads up O’Reilly’s Radar and Strata businesses. A lifelong technology practitioner he’s finding this media thing ridiculously fun. In a previous life he traveled the world with the U.S. Navy. Unfortunately from his vantage point it all looked like the inside of a submarine. He spends his free time hacking silver halides with decidedly low-tech gear. @jstogdill . Security and the Internet of stuff in your life

The IoT isn’t just a new attack surface to get into your enterprise — it’s giving the Internet eyes and arms.

Your computer is important. It has access to [...]

Apr 13

Embrace the End of Work

Unless we send humanity on a permanent paid vacation, the future could get very bleak Newspapers are full of bewildered economists scratching their head at the emerging jobloss recovery. The right reassures us that job growth is right around the corner, although it wouldn’t hurt to have more tax cuts, deregulation, freer trade and lower minimum wages. Liberals counter that we can cut unemployment with more job retraining, free higher education, more protectionism, more demand-side tax stimulus and nonmilitary public sector investments.

The problem is that none of these policies can reverse the emerging structural unemployment resulting from automation [...]

Apr 11

Jeremy Rifkin examines society after capitalism’s eclipse

Jeremy Rifkin examines society after capitalism’s eclipse

  Jeremy Rifkin has written 20 books, including The Third Industrial Revolution, which is about his vision of a sustainable, post-carbon economic paradigm. He is an adviser to the European Union and a lecturer at the Wharton School’s Executive Education Program at the University of Pennsylvania. His new book is The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons and the Eclipse of Capitalism.

Q Tell us a bit about your book and how it builds on your other books.

A A paradox exists at the heart of capitalism that has propelled it ever upwards, but is now [...]

Apr 11

Jeremy Rifkin examines society after capitalism’s eclipse

Jeremy Rifkin examines society after capitalism’s eclipse

Jeremy Rifkin has written 20 books, including The Third Industrial Revolution, which is about his vision of a sustainable, post-carbon economic paradigm. He is an adviser to the European Union and a lecturer at the Wharton School’s Executive Education Program at the University of Pennsylvania. His new book is The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons and the Eclipse of Capitalism.

Q Tell us a bit about your book and how it builds on your other books.

A A paradox exists at the heart of capitalism that has propelled it ever upwards, but is now taking [...]

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