Digital Technology May Not Be Improving Our Lives Like We Think
Many argue that certain digital technology innovations, such as the iPhone or GPS, have improved our lives in a way we've never seen before. But at least one economist wants us to hold off on singing...
Many argue that certain digital technology innovations, such as the iPhone or GPS, have improved our lives in a way we’ve never seen before. But at least one economist wants us to hold off on singing the praises of the likes of Apple.
An article on forbes.com, Is Digital Technology Making Us Any Better Off? One Prominent Economist Says No And He May Be Right, references economist Robert Gordon, who in his book The Rise and Fall of American Growth, argues that the innovations of today are nothing when compared to the innovations that were made in earlier years.
To understand Gordon’s argument, imagine what life was like in 1900. Life expectancy was only 41 years. If you got sick, there were no antibiotics. Henry Ford’s Model T was still eight years away, so the horse was still the primary mode of transportation and streets of cities filled up with manure. Lack of refrigeration meant that diets were poor and food was often contaminated.
Houses were not typically networked with water, gas electricity and sewage pipes. So typical daytime tasks, like taking a bath, cooking dinner or washing clothes required water and firewood to be brought from outside. Life was difficult and few women were employed, partly because there was so much backbreaking work to be done around the house.
Yet by 1940, nearly all of that drudgery was a thing of the past. Cars, plumbing, electricity, heat, AC … these drastically improved the lives of people across the globe. Hence, Gordon argues that these innovations were one-time events that certainly can’t be repeated. We can build cooler cars, but you can only invent the car once. While all other innovations can slightly improve our lives, nothing compares to the human shift that took place some 100 years ago.
While this may be true, it’s wondrous to see the human spirit of invention prevail. Our creativity cannot stop; we constantly look for ways to do things better, faster, and with more meaning. It’s why VoIP has solidified itself as a mainstay in the business world – communication remains a key part of doing business, and VoIP makes it easier and more affordable for organizations of all sizes to connect with clients, customers, and the world.
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