Thursday, March 16, 2017

Warranty over Wonder

From the "me" to the "millennials", have we forsaken surprise for safety?
I've talked about this before, now Tyler Cowen speaks.


Big Myk said...

I agree with Tyler Cowen's insight about complacency, and I think that a lot of his cultural examples are spot on. No more dodgeball, kids being driven to school, and on and on.

But it's not fair or accurate to say that there's been no change in the world since the 1960's except in the world of computing. As we all know, any generalization is partially wrong. One area that has changed dramatically is global development. The UN has plans to end poverty worldwide by 2030. And the fact is, they are 5 years ahead of schedule. Today, 700 million fewer people live in poverty than in 1990. 80% of all adults in the world now are literate. Life expectancy worldwide is now 70 years. The proportion of undernourished people has decreased from 23 percent in 1990 to 15% in 2010. The most dramatic improvements have occurred after the 1960's. I wouldn't call this complacency.

Meanwhile, if you check the number of patents granted by the US government, you'll find that the number grows almost every year. In 1969, theoretically the end of Cowen's "period of innovation," 71,230 patents were granted. In 2015, the last year for which I have data, 325,979 patents were granted, an increase of 4 1/2 times from 1969.

Finally, look closer to home. By my count (which may be off by one or two) I figure 11 of our nieces and nephews have lived overseas for a substantial period, and together they've hit every continent except Antarctica. Mike Nascenzi on his own has been tooling around southeast Asia on a motorcycle (leading perhaps to a "Motorcycles Diaries II" movie). Not much complacency there either.

James R said...

Perhaps like all great truths the opposite is also true. You make some great points. I agree he had some good insights and examples. I think I mainly posted it as Cowen's Lenten letter. Lent is the time we try to shake ourselves out of complacency. I haven't yet, but I will look at his other videos in the series.