The Innovation Shortfall Thesis spreads

My ‘innovation shortfall’  thesis has shown in up in Time magazine, of all places.  Michael Lind writes, in a piece called “The Boring Age”:

We like to believe we live in an era of unprecedented change: technological innovation is proceeding at a rate with no parallel in all of human history. The information revolution and globalization are radically disruptive. Just as Barack Obama would like to be a transformational President, so the rest of us like the idea that we live in a thrilling epoch of transformation. But the truth is that we are living in a period of stagnation.

Surprisingly, this stasis is most evident in an area where we assume we are way ahead of our predecessors: technology.

Next question: Will we recognize if and when the innovation shortfall ends?


  1. Lind is an idiot. As he himself notes, most transformative technology of the past sat fallow or underused for decades before it touched off a revolution. That’s what’s happening with computing today, although it’s still being improved by leaps and bounds- the $100 computer of today will run circles around the $2k computer of just 5 years ago- what’s missing is the final touch, micropayments. People are still working on software to better gather and communicate information, whether it’s social media websites or the latest smartphone operating systems. Micropayments are the match that will set ablaze all this kindling we’re building up, stasis my foot, the information revolution will begin once micropayments are deployed. His other arguments are nonsensical, complaining that we don’t have flying cars yet is like complaining in 1900 that we don’t have alchemy yet. The nature of future innovation will always be different than past ones. He will end up being dead wrong with many of his 2050 predictions. I can’t say which as the future is uncertain, all I know is it won’t be the same.

  2. mike shupp says:

    Uh… metallurgy, organic chemistry, civil engineering, spacecraft, public health, architecture, refining, nanotechology, nuclear power….

    Weren’t those “technologies” once upon a time? They don’t seem to exist anymore. No one mentions them on the internet. No one can name them.

    Are they still alive somewhere in some glorious alternative universe? Will they be known to our great-great-great-grandchildren, or only the subject of fables? Will there be movies about HARRY POTTER IN THE SUB-ATOMIC UNIVERSE or INDIANA JONES AND THE FORTRAN PROGRAMMERS?

    Only time will tell.

  3. Innovations shine like bright ornaments captivating our attention but are less indicative of their actual impact. Watch real long term interest rates if you would see the impact of significant innovation. Falling means a dearth of investment opportunities, rising, a plethora of them.

  4. Why innovate when the taxes are confiscitory, and your IP isn’t defended by your goverment?

    People will put up with a certain amount of game rigging, but when it gets too much they just stop playing.

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