Thursday, March 19, 2015

85 Disruptive Ideas

One implication of growth theory is that improvement in well-being can be about using more resources and accumulating more capital, but that doesn't do remotely enough to explain the richness of developed countries. Technology is far more important.

But our definition of technology is expansive: it's basically everything that 1) affects productivity, 2) doesn't depreciate, and 3) only has to be paid for once.

That makes large aspects of a smartphone technology, but it also means that coming up with a mundane idea like ... we can leave gardening products in the parking lot at big box retailers because most people won't steal them ... is also a technology.

This is just food for thought. Take a look at this article from Bloomberg Businessweek entitled "The 85 Most Disruptive Ideas In Our History". Do note that this is a self-centered gimmick for the magazine: it came up with 85 ideas from the last 85 years because it was first published 85 years ago.

Even so, it's an interesting list because of its mix of the high tech ideas that everyone thinks of as technology (e.g., smartphones, modems, DNA sequencing, the Google) and also the "low tech" that only macroeconomists recognize as technology too (e.g., GDP, shipping containers, workplace safety, sexual harassment).

Via Kottke.

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