everywhere but in the productivity statistics

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pages: 144 words: 43,356

Surviving AI: The Promise and Peril of Artificial Intelligence by Calum Chace

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, barriers to entry, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, brain emulation, Buckminster Fuller, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, dematerialisation, discovery of the americas, disintermediation, don't be evil, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Flash crash, friendly AI, Google Glasses, hedonic treadmill, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, life extension, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, mutually assured destruction, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, South Sea Bubble, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, strong AI, technological singularity, The future is already here, The Future of Employment, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, Wall-E, zero-sum game

It is true that economists have long struggled to record the productivity improvements that would be expected from the massive investments in information technology of the last half-century; this failure prompted economist Robert Solow to remark back in 1987 that “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” (Of the various explanations for this phenomenon, the one which seems most plausible to me is that there is an increase in productivity, but for some reason our economic measurements don’t catch it. When I started work in the early 1980s we used to spend hours each day looking for information by searching in files and phoning each other up.


pages: 223 words: 58,732

The Retreat of Western Liberalism by Edward Luce

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, affirmative action, Airbnb, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, business cycle, call centre, carried interest, centre right, Charles Lindbergh, cognitive dissonance, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, computer age, corporate raider, cuban missile crisis, currency manipulation / currency intervention, disinformation, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, George Santayana, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global pandemic, global supply chain, illegal immigration, imperial preference, income inequality, independent contractor, informal economy, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, knowledge economy, lateral thinking, liberal capitalism, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, microaggression, Monroe Doctrine, moral panic, more computing power than Apollo, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Norman Mailer, offshore financial centre, one-China policy, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, precariat, purchasing power parity, reserve currency, reshoring, Richard Florida, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, software is eating the world, South China Sea, Steve Bannon, Steve Jobs, superstar cities, telepresence, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, unpaid internship, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, white flight, World Values Survey, Yogi Berra

But the growth vanished almost as quickly as it came. We are still awaiting the productivity gains we were assured would result from the digital economy. With the exception of most of the 1990s, productivity growth has never recaptured the rates it achieved in the post-war decades. ‘You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics,’ said Robert Solow, the Nobel Prize-winning economist. Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire, who has controversially backed Donald Trump, put it more vividly: ‘We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters [Twitter].’ That may be about to change, with the acceleration of the robot revolution and the spread of artificial intelligence.


pages: 391 words: 71,600

Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone by Satya Nadella, Greg Shaw, Jill Tracie Nichols

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Amazon Web Services, anti-globalists, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bretton Woods, business process, cashless society, charter city, cloud computing, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, equal pay for equal work, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, fault tolerance, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Mars Rover, Minecraft, Mother of all demos, NP-complete, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, place-making, Richard Feynman, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, special economic zone, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, telepresence, telerobotics, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Tim Cook: Apple, trade liberalization, two-sided market, universal basic income, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, young professional, zero-sum game

In recent decades, the world has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in technology infrastructure—PCs, cell phones, tablets, printers, robots, smart devices of many kinds, and a vast networking system to link them all. The aim has been to increase productivity and efficiency. Yet what, exactly, do we have to show for it? Nobel Prize–winning economist Robert Solow once quipped, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” However, from the mid-1990s to 2004, the PC Revolution did help to reignite once-stagnant productivity growth. But other than this too brief window, worldwide per capita GDP growth—a proxy for economic productivity—has been disappointing, just a little over 1 percent per year.


pages: 235 words: 62,862

Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders, and a 15-Hour Workweek by Rutger Bregman

autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Bartolomé de las Casas, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Branko Milanovic, cognitive dissonance, computer age, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Graeber, Diane Coyle, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, George Gilder, George Santayana, happiness index / gross national happiness, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, income inequality, invention of gunpowder, James Watt: steam engine, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, low skilled workers, means of production, megacity, meta-analysis, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, Nathan Meyer Rothschild: antibiotics, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, precariat, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, stem cell, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, The future is already here, The Future of Employment, The Spirit Level, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, wage slave, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, wikimedia commons, women in the workforce, working poor, World Values Survey

Whereas in 1800, water power still supplied England with three times the amount of energy as steam, 70 years later English steam engines were generating the power equivalent of 40 million grown men.24 Machine power was replacing muscle power on a massive scale. Now, two centuries later, our brains are next. And it’s high time, too. “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics,” the economist Bob Solow said in 1987. Computers could already do some pretty neat things, but their economic impact was minimal. Like the steam engine, the computer needed time to, well, gather steam. Or compare it to electricity: All the major technological innovations happened in the 1870s, but it wasn’t until around 1920 that most factories actually switched to electric power.25 Fast forward to today, and chips are doing things that even ten years ago were still deemed impossible.


pages: 239 words: 70,206

Data-Ism: The Revolution Transforming Decision Making, Consumer Behavior, and Almost Everything Else by Steve Lohr

"Robert Solow", 23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Bear Stearns, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bioinformatics, business cycle, business intelligence, call centre, cloud computing, computer age, conceptual framework, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Danny Hillis, data is the new oil, David Brooks, East Village, Edward Snowden, Emanuel Derman, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Google Glasses, Ida Tarbell, impulse control, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, Internet of things, invention of writing, Johannes Kepler, John Markoff, John von Neumann, lifelogging, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, meta-analysis, money market fund, natural language processing, obamacare, pattern recognition, payday loans, personalized medicine, precision agriculture, pre–internet, Productivity paradox, RAND corporation, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, The Design of Experiments, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

Productivity gains—more wealth created per hour of labor—are the fuel of rising living standards, and a by-product of the efficiency that technology is supposed to generate. The conundrum raised the question of whether all of the investment in, and enthusiasm for, digital technology was justified. Robert Solow, a Nobel Prize–winning economist, tartly summed up the quandary in the late 1980s, when he wrote, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” Solow’s critique became known as the productivity paradox. Brynjolfsson, a technology optimist, has two answers for the skeptics. First, he argues, the official statistics do not fully capture the benefits of digital innovation. And second, he says that in technology, revolutions take time.


pages: 1,104 words: 302,176

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by Robert J. Gordon

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, Apple II, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, creative destruction, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of penicillin, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, feminist movement, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, high net worth, housing crisis, Ida Tarbell, immigration reform, impulse control, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of the sewing machine, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, Loma Prieta earthquake, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, Mason jar, mass immigration, mass incarceration, McMansion, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, occupational segregation, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, rent control, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, undersea cable, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, yellow journalism, yield management

We can state this puzzle in two symmetric ways: Why was TFP growth so slow before 1920? Why was it so fast during the fifty years after 1920? The leading hypothesis is that of Paul David, who provided a now well-known analogy between the evolution of electric machinery and of the electronic computer.14 In 1987, Robert Solow quipped, “We can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”15 David responded, in effect: “Just wait”—suggesting that the previous example of the electric dynamo and other electric machinery implied that a long gestation period could intervene between a major invention and its payoff in productivity growth. David counted almost four decades between Thomas Edison’s opening in 1882 of the Pearl Street power plant in Lower Manhattan and the subsequent upsurge of productivity growth in the early 1920s associated with the electrification of manufacturing.

Mainframe computers created bank statements and phone bills in the 1960s and powered airline reservation systems in the 1970s. Personal computers, ATMs, and barcode scanning were among the innovations that created productivity growth in the 1980s. Reacting to the failure of these innovations to boost productivity growth, Robert Solow quipped, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”18 Slow TFP growth in this period indicates that the benefits of the first round of computer applications partially masked an even more severe slowdown in productivity growth than would have occurred otherwise in the rest of the economy. The achievements of IR #3 can be divided into two major categories: communications and information technology.

Barber and beauty shops were joined by tanning and nail salons, but the ICT revolution had virtually no effect. A pedicure is a pedicure regardless of whether the customer is reading a magazine (as would occur a decade ago) or reading a book on a Kindle or surfing the web on a smartphone. This brings us back to Solow’s quip—that we can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics. The final answer to Solow’s computer paradox is that computers are not everywhere. We don’t eat computers or wear them or drive to work in them or let them cut our hair. We live in dwelling units that have appliances much like those of the 1950s, and we drive in motor vehicles that perform the same functions as in the 1950s, albeit with more convenience and safety.


pages: 345 words: 75,660

Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, Avi Goldfarb

"Robert Solow", Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Air France Flight 447, Airbus A320, algorithmic bias, Amazon Picking Challenge, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, backpropagation, basic income, Bayesian statistics, Black Swan, blockchain, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, data acquisition, data is the new oil, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Google Glasses, high net worth, ImageNet competition, income inequality, information retrieval, inventory management, invisible hand, job automation, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Lyft, Minecraft, Mitch Kapor, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Nate Silver, new economy, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, pattern recognition, performance metric, profit maximization, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, strong AI, The Future of Employment, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Tim Cook: Apple, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, US Airways Flight 1549, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, William Langewiesche, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

For some, the answer was easy: “Find where we do lots of calculations and substitute computers for humans; they’re better, faster, and cheaper.” For other businesses, it was less obvious. Nonetheless, they experimented. But the fruits of those experiments took time to materialize. Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate economist, lamented, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”1 From this challenge came an interesting business movement called “reengineering.” In 1993, Michael Hammer and James Champy, in their book Reengineering the Corporation, argued that to use the new general-purpose technology—computers—businesses needed to step back from their processes and outline the objective they wanted to achieve.


pages: 242 words: 73,728

Give People Money by Annie Lowrey

"Robert Solow", affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, airport security, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, ending welfare as we know it, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, full employment, gender pay gap, gig economy, Google Earth, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, indoor plumbing, information asymmetry, Jaron Lanier, jitney, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, late capitalism, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, mass incarceration, McMansion, Menlo Park, mobile money, Modern Monetary Theory, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, obamacare, Peter Thiel, post scarcity, post-work, Potemkin village, precariat, randomized controlled trial, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, The future is already here, The Future of Employment, theory of mind, total factor productivity, Turing test, two tier labour market, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, uranium enrichment, War on Poverty, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, women in the workforce, working poor, World Values Survey, Y Combinator

Yet, as the economist Chad Syverson has noted, for roughly a quarter century following its introduction, productivity growth was relatively slow. The same is true for the first information technology era, when computers started to become ubiquitous in businesses and homes. As the economist Robert Solow—hence the Solow residual—quipped in 1987, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” In most cases, productivity did speed up once innovators invented complementary technologies and businesses had a long while to adjust—suggesting that the innovation gains and job losses of our new machine age might be just around the corner. If so, mass unemployment might be a result—and a UBI might be a necessary salve.


pages: 346 words: 89,180

Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy by Jonathan Haskel, Stian Westlake

"Robert Solow", 23andMe, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Sanders, business climate, business process, buy and hold, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cloud computing, cognitive bias, computer age, corporate governance, corporate raider, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, dark matter, Diane Coyle, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, endogenous growth, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial innovation, full employment, fundamental attribution error, future of work, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, income inequality, index card, indoor plumbing, intangible asset, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, job automation, Kenneth Arrow, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, Mother of all demos, Network effects, new economy, open economy, patent troll, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, place-making, post-industrial society, Productivity paradox, quantitative hedge fund, rent-seeking, revision control, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, software patent, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, sunk-cost fallacy, survivorship bias, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, total factor productivity, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban planning, Vanguard fund, walkable city, X Prize, zero-sum game

This was despite the advent of widely hyped new computer technologies that were supposedly going to transform business for the better. Robert Solow, who contributed more to the study of economic growth than most, famously pointed out in 1987 that the impact of the Computer Age could be seen everywhere but in the productivity statistics (Solow 1987). Goaded by these criticisms, statistical agencies, led by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), began to examine their treatment of information and information technology more closely. They introduced two types of innovation. First, in the 1980s, in conjunction with IBM, the BEA started to produce indexes of computer prices that were quality adjusted.


words: 49,604

The Weightless World: Strategies for Managing the Digital Economy by Diane Coyle

"Robert Solow", barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, business cycle, clean water, computer age, Corn Laws, creative destruction, cross-subsidies, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, Diane Coyle, Edward Glaeser, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, financial deregulation, full employment, George Santayana, global village, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, income inequality, informal economy, invention of the sewing machine, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, lump of labour, Mahbub ul Haq, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, McJob, microcredit, moral panic, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, night-watchman state, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, pension reform, pensions crisis, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, spinning jenny, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the market place, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, Tragedy of the Commons, two tier labour market, very high income, War on Poverty, winner-take-all economy, working-age population

Impatient shoppers spend minutes waiting for an under-trained sales clerk to figure out how to enter a purchase on the terminal, which will control the inventory, and for their credit card to be validated. Economists have dubbed this the productivity puzzle. Nobel Laureate Robert Solow famously joked: ‘You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics’.7 So why have computers not generated extra growth in output? There are at least three answers: under-measurement of the output of industries using information technology; over-estimation of the importance of computers relative to all other types of capital equipment; and over-optimism about how quickly new technologies spread.


pages: 323 words: 90,868

The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-First Century by Ryan Avent

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Airbnb, American energy revolution, assortative mating, autonomous vehicles, Bakken shale, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, business cycle, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, creative destruction, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, gig economy, global supply chain, global value chain, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, independent contractor, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge economy, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, mass immigration, means of production, new economy, performance metric, pets.com, post-work, price mechanism, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reshoring, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, software is eating the world, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, The Nature of the Firm, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, very high income, working-age population

This slice of history played out during a period that economist Tyler Cowen, of George Mason University, has labelled the ‘Great Stagnation’.8 A half-century of extraordinary gains in computing power somehow did not return humanity to the days of dizzying economic and social change of the nineteenth century. In 1987 the Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Solow mused, in a piece pooh-poohing the prospect of a looming technological transformation, that the evidence for the revolutionary power of computers simply wasn’t there. ‘You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics’, he reckoned, and he had a point.9 Productivity perked up in the 1990s but wheezed out again in the 2000s. And that, some seemed to conclude, was all there was. In the 2000s Robert Gordon began posing a thought experiment to his audiences: would they, he wondered, prefer a world with all the available technology up to 2000, or one with all available technology up to the present day except for indoor plumbing?


pages: 382 words: 92,138

The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths by Mariana Mazzucato

"Robert Solow", Apple II, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bretton Woods, business cycle, California gold rush, call centre, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, cleantech, computer age, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demand response, deskilling, endogenous growth, energy security, energy transition, eurozone crisis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Financial Instability Hypothesis, full employment, G4S, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, incomplete markets, information retrieval, intangible asset, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, linear model of innovation, natural language processing, new economy, offshore financial centre, Philip Mirowski, popular electronics, Post-Keynesian economics, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, renewable energy credits, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, smart grid, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

When so many ‘life science’ companies are focusing on their stock price rather than on increasing their side of the R in R&D, simply subsidising their research will only worsen the problem rather than create the type of learning that Rodrik (2004) rightly calls for. 1 From now on ‘pharma’ will refer to pharmaceutical companies, and Big Pharma the top international pharma companies. Chapter 2 TECHNOLOGY, INNOVATION AND GROWTH You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics. Solow (1987, 36) In a special report on the world economy, the Economist (2010a) stated: A smart innovation agenda, in short, would be quite different from the one that most rich governments seem to favor. It would be more about freeing markets and less about picking winners; more about creating the right conditions for bright ideas to emerge and less about promises like green jobs.


pages: 343 words: 101,563

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells

"Robert Solow", agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Asian financial crisis, augmented reality, basic income, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, Chekhov's gun, cognitive bias, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, disinformation, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, endowment effect, energy transition, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, failed state, fiat currency, global pandemic, global supply chain, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Joan Didion, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kim Stanley Robinson, labor-force participation, life extension, longitudinal study, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, megacity, megastructure, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, nuclear winter, Pearl River Delta, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, postindustrial economy, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Silicon Valley, Skype, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, the built environment, The future is already here, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Whole Earth Catalog, William Langewiesche, Y Combinator

* * * — That technology might liberate us, collectively, from the strain of labor and material privation is a dream at least as old as John Maynard Keynes, who predicted his grandchildren would work only fifteen-hour weeks, and yet never ultimately fulfilled. In 1987, the year he won the Nobel Prize, economist Robert Solow famously commented, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” This has been, even more so, the experience of most of those living in the developed world in the decades since—rapid technological change transforming nearly every aspect of everyday life, and yet yielding little or no tangible improvement in any conventional measures of economic well-being.


pages: 374 words: 111,284

The AI Economy: Work, Wealth and Welfare in the Robot Age by Roger Bootle

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, anti-work, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bernie Sanders, blockchain, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chris Urmson, computer age, conceptual framework, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, deskilling, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, facts on the ground, financial intermediation, full employment, future of work, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, license plate recognition, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mega-rich, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, positional goods, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, social intelligence, spinning jenny, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, universal basic income, US Airways Flight 1549, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, wealth creators, winner-take-all economy, Y2K, Yogi Berra

In particular, they don’t conform to the traditional pattern of technological advance that has underpinned economic progress over the last two centuries, namely the replacement of human labor by machines. You would have thought that computerization most definitely did conform to this paradigm. Yet the Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Solow famously remarked in 1987: “you can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” 29 (Mind you, the pickup in US productivity in the late 1990s suggests that the gains from computers were real but, as with many other advances, delayed.) The American entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Peter Thiel, has put recent technological disappointment more pithily. He has said: “We wanted flying cars.


pages: 453 words: 117,893

What Would the Great Economists Do?: How Twelve Brilliant Minds Would Solve Today's Biggest Problems by Linda Yueh

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, additive manufacturing, Asian financial crisis, augmented reality, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Bear Stearns, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, currency peg, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, endogenous growth, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, forward guidance, full employment, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Gunnar Myrdal, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index card, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information asymmetry, intangible asset, invisible hand, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, lateral thinking, life extension, low-wage service sector, manufacturing employment, market bubble, means of production, mittelstand, Money creation, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Nelson Mandela, non-tariff barriers, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, price mechanism, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, reshoring, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, secular stagnation, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, universal basic income, unorthodox policies, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working-age population

For instance, the strong period of growth in the 1950s and 60s is associated with post-war technological advances, such as widespread air travel and industrial robots. Curiously, recent technological improvements, centred on computing, information and communication technologies (ICT) and the internet, do not seem to have raised productivity across the economy. Solow’s 1987 observation that ‘You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics’ is known as the Solow paradox.6 He revisited this question decades later, but concluded that we still do not know, as the role of computing is still evolving. Solow points out that since our lives and work have been transformed by computers, this technology should have improved our productivity.


pages: 374 words: 113,126

The Great Economists: How Their Ideas Can Help Us Today by Linda Yueh

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, additive manufacturing, Asian financial crisis, augmented reality, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Bear Stearns, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, currency peg, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, endogenous growth, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, forward guidance, full employment, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Gunnar Myrdal, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index card, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information asymmetry, intangible asset, invisible hand, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, lateral thinking, life extension, manufacturing employment, market bubble, means of production, mittelstand, Money creation, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Nelson Mandela, non-tariff barriers, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, price mechanism, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, reshoring, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, secular stagnation, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, universal basic income, unorthodox policies, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working-age population

For instance, the strong period of growth in the 1950s and 60s is associated with post-war technological advances, such as widespread air travel and industrial robots. Curiously, recent technological improvements, centred on computing, information and communication technologies (ICT) and the internet, do not seem to have raised productivity across the economy. Solow’s 1987 observation that ‘You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics’ is known as the Solow paradox.6 He revisited this question decades later, but concluded that we still do not know, as the role of computing is still evolving. Solow points out that since our lives and work have been transformed by computers, this technology should have improved our productivity.


pages: 309 words: 114,984

The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age by Robert Wachter

"Robert Solow", activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, Airbnb, Atul Gawande, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, computer age, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, deskilling, disruptive innovation, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Firefox, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Google Glasses, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, Internet of things, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, lifelogging, medical malpractice, medical residency, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, personalized medicine, pets.com, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, Snapchat, software as a service, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, The future is already here, the payments system, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Toyota Production System, Uber for X, US Airways Flight 1549, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Yogi Berra

This phenomenon is known as the “productivity paradox” of information technology. 38 The name comes from the fact that Gross and Tecco decided to launch the organization while sitting in Harvard Business School’s Rock Hall. Chapter 26 The Productivity Paradox You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics. —Nobel Prize–winning MIT economist Robert Solow, writing in 1987 Between the time David Blumenthal stepped down as national coordinator for health IT and became CEO of the Commonwealth Fund, he returned to Boston from 2011 to 2013 to manage the transition of Partners HealthCare from a homegrown electronic health record to the one made by Epic.


pages: 409 words: 125,611

The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them by Joseph E. Stiglitz

"Robert Solow", accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Bear Stearns, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of DNA, Doha Development Round, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, global supply chain, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, income inequality, income per capita, information asymmetry, job automation, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, labor-force participation, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Samuelson, Plutocrats, plutocrats, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, Savings and loan crisis, school vouchers, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, The Chicago School, the payments system, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transaction costs, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, urban sprawl, very high income, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, white flight, winner-take-all economy, working poor, working-age population

But there is a puzzle: it is difficult to detect the benefits of this innovation in GDP statistics. What is happening today is analogous to developments a few decades ago, early in the era of personal computers. In 1987, the economist Robert Solow—awarded the Nobel Prize for his pioneering work on growth—lamented, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” There are several possible explanations for this. Perhaps GDP does not really capture the improvements in living standards that computer-age innovation is engendering. Or perhaps this innovation is less significant than its enthusiasts believe. As it turns out, there is some truth in both perspectives.


pages: 472 words: 117,093

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future by Andrew McAfee, Erik Brynjolfsson

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, additive manufacturing, AI winter, Airbnb, airline deregulation, airport security, Albert Einstein, algorithmic bias, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, backpropagation, backtesting, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, British Empire, business cycle, business process, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centralized clearinghouse, Chris Urmson, cloud computing, cognitive bias, commoditize, complexity theory, computer age, creative destruction, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dean Kamen, discovery of DNA, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, double helix, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, family office, fiat currency, financial innovation, George Akerlof, global supply chain, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, independent contractor, information asymmetry, Internet of things, inventory management, iterative process, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, law of one price, longitudinal study, Lyft, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta-analysis, Mitch Kapor, moral hazard, multi-sided market, Myron Scholes, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer lending, performance metric, Plutocrats, plutocrats, precision agriculture, prediction markets, pre–internet, price stability, principal–agent problem, Ray Kurzweil, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, smart contracts, Snapchat, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, Ted Nelson, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, the strength of weak ties, Thomas Davenport, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transaction costs, transportation-network company, traveling salesman, Travis Kalanick, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy, yield management, zero day

Phase one of the second machine age describes a time when digital technologies demonstrably had an impact on the business world by taking over large amounts of routine work—tasks like processing payroll, welding car body parts together, and sending invoices to customers. In July of 1987 the MIT economist Robert Solow, who later that year would win a Nobel prize for his work on the sources of economic growth, wrote, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” By the mid-1990s, that was no longer true; productivity started to grow much faster, and a large amount of research (some of it conducted by Erik‡‡ and his colleagues) revealed that computers and other digital technologies were a main reason why. So, we can date the start of phase one of the second machine age to the middle of the 1990s.


pages: 436 words: 127,642

When Einstein Walked With Gödel: Excursions to the Edge of Thought by Jim Holt

"Robert Solow", Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, anthropic principle, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Benoit Mandelbrot, Brownian motion, cellular automata, computer age, dark matter, David Brooks, Donald Trump, Edmond Halley, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fellow of the Royal Society, four colour theorem, Georg Cantor, George Santayana, haute couture, Henri Poincaré, inventory management, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, luminiferous ether, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, Monty Hall problem, Murray Gell-Mann, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, Paul Erdős, Peter Singer: altruism, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, random walk, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific worldview, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, selection bias, Skype, stakhanovite, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Thorstein Veblen, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, union organizing, Vilfredo Pareto, Von Neumann architecture, wage slave

In this they have proved something of a disappointment. In the early 1970s, American businesses began to invest heavily in computer hardware and software, but for decades this enormous investment seemed to pay no dividends. As the economist Robert Solow put it in 1987, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” Perhaps too much time was wasted in training employees to use computers; perhaps the sorts of activities that computers make more efficient, like word processing, don’t really add all that much to productivity; perhaps information becomes less valuable when it’s more widely available.


pages: 554 words: 158,687

Profiting Without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All by Costas Lapavitsas

"Robert Solow", Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bear Stearns, borderless world, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, computer age, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, financial deregulation, financial independence, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial repression, Flash crash, full employment, global value chain, global village, High speed trading, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, job satisfaction, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, liberal capitalism, London Interbank Offered Rate, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, market bubble, means of production, Modern Monetary Theory, Money creation, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, oil shock, open economy, pensions crisis, Post-Keynesian economics, price stability, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, savings glut, Scramble for Africa, secular stagnation, shareholder value, Simon Kuznets, special drawing rights, Thales of Miletus, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tobin tax, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, union organizing, value at risk, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

Looking more closely at figure 6, from the middle of the 1970s to the middle of the 1990s, productivity growth was broadly flat or declining, including in the US, the leading country in introducing the new technologies of the era.14 Robert Solow observed that ‘You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics’, and his quip became the ‘Solow Paradox’ characteristic of the new era.15 After 1995, however, significant technological improvements in the microprocessor industry and faster productivity growth in general seemed to materialize for the US economy. A debate took place within mainstream economics in the second half of the 1990s regarding the validity of the upsurge.


pages: 462 words: 150,129

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

"Robert Solow", 23andMe, agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, feminist movement, financial innovation, Flynn Effect, food miles, Garrett Hardin, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, hedonic treadmill, Herbert Marcuse, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invisible hand, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kula ring, Mark Zuckerberg, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, packet switching, patent troll, Pax Mongolica, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Productivity paradox, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, technological singularity, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, Tragedy of the Commons, transaction costs, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, Vernor Vinge, Vilfredo Pareto, wage slave, working poor, working-age population, Y2K, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

Consider the case of discount retailing. The burst of increasing productivity that countries like America and Britain rather unexpectedly experienced in the 1990s at first puzzled many economists. They wanted to credit computers, but as the economist Robert Solow had quipped in 1987, ‘you can see the computer everywhere but in the productivity statistics’, and those of us who experienced how easy it was to waste time using a computer in those days agreed. A study by McKinsey concluded that the 1990s surge in the United States was caused by (drum roll of excitement) logistical changes in business (groan of disappointment), especially in the retail business and especially in just one firm – Wal-Mart.


pages: 626 words: 167,836

The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor, and Power in the Age of Automation by Carl Benedikt Frey

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, business cycle, business process, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, Corn Laws, creative destruction, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic transition, desegregation, deskilling, Donald Trump, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, factory automation, falling living standards, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, future of work, game design, Gini coefficient, Hyperloop, income inequality, income per capita, independent contractor, industrial cluster, industrial robot, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, job satisfaction, job-hopping, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour mobility, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, Malcom McLean invented shipping containers, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, natural language processing, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, oil shock, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, Renaissance Technologies, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, social intelligence, speech recognition, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, trade route, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Turing test, union organizing, universal basic income, washing machines reduced drudgery, wealth creators, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

As risk-adverse farmers were reluctant to adopt expensive tractors, businesses deemed the cost of computers too high to bear. And they were right in thinking so. When computerization finally took off, unforeseen glitches emerged. In 1987, when Robert Solow puzzled that “we can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics,” an article in the Wall Street Journal reported: “Companies are automating in smaller doses now, a strategy that allows bugs to be worked out before huge investments are made.”66 As the director of engineering at AT&T explained, “If you make 30 million boxes of Wheaties a year, you can use automation without many problems, but if you’re in a competitive market where the product is changing and its life cycle is short, you better be damned careful.”67 The performance of the technology is not all that matters.


pages: 829 words: 186,976

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-But Some Don't by Nate Silver

"Robert Solow", airport security, availability heuristic, Bayesian statistics, Bear Stearns, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, business cycle, buy and hold, Carmen Reinhart, Claude Shannon: information theory, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, disinformation, diversification, Donald Trump, Edmond Halley, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, en.wikipedia.org, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, fear of failure, Fellow of the Royal Society, Freestyle chess, fudge factor, George Akerlof, global pandemic, haute cuisine, Henri Poincaré, high batting average, housing crisis, income per capita, index fund, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet Archive, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, Laplace demon, locking in a profit, Loma Prieta earthquake, market bubble, Mikhail Gorbachev, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Monroe Doctrine, mortgage debt, Nate Silver, negative equity, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pets.com, Pierre-Simon Laplace, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, random walk, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, savings glut, security theater, short selling, Skype, statistical model, Steven Pinker, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, transaction costs, transfer pricing, University of East Anglia, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, wikimedia commons

In 1971, for instance, it was claimed that we would be able to predict earthquakes within a decade,29 a problem that we are no closer to solving forty years later. Instead, the computer boom of the 1970s and 1980s produced a temporary decline in economic and scientific productivity. Economists termed this the productivity paradox. “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics,” wrote the economist Robert Solow in 1987.30 The United States experienced four distinct recessions between 1969 and 1982.31 The late 1980s were a stronger period for our economy, but less so for countries elsewhere in the world. Scientific progress is harder to measure than economic progress.32 But one mark of it is the number of patents produced, especially relative to the investment in research and development.


The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World (Hardback) - Common by Alan Greenspan

"Robert Solow", addicted to oil, air freight, airline deregulation, Albert Einstein, asset-backed security, bank run, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, business cycle, business process, buy and hold, call centre, capital controls, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, compensation consultant, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, corporate governance, corporate raider, correlation coefficient, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, cuban missile crisis, currency peg, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doha Development Round, double entry bookkeeping, equity premium, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, full employment, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, labor-force participation, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, Long Term Capital Management, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, market bubble, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Nelson Mandela, new economy, North Sea oil, oil shock, open economy, Pearl River Delta, pets.com, Potemkin village, price mechanism, price stability, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, random walk, reserve currency, Right to Buy, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Savings and loan crisis, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, stocks for the long run, the payments system, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, trade route, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, urban renewal, working-age population, Y2K, zero-sum game

It takes time to apply new ideas and often decades before those ideas show up in productivity levels. Paul David, a professor of economic history at Stanford, wrote a seminal article in 1989 that addressed the puzzle of why, in the famous words of Nobel laureate economist and then-MIT professor Robert Solow, computers were "everywhere but in the productivity statistics." It was David's article that heightened my interest in long-term productivity trends. He pointed out that it often took decades for a new invention to be diffused sufficiently widely to affect the levels of productivity. As an *Ten years later, in 1975, Moore revisited his analysis and reported, "I had no idea this was going to be an accurate prediction, b u t amazingly enough instead o f t e n doublingfs], we got nine over t h e ten years."


pages: 976 words: 235,576

The Meritocracy Trap: How America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite by Daniel Markovits

"Robert Solow", 8-hour work day, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, Anton Chekhov, asset-backed security, assortative mating, basic income, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, compensation consultant, computer age, corporate governance, corporate raider, crony capitalism, David Brooks, deskilling, Detroit bankruptcy, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Emanuel Derman, equity premium, European colonialism, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, fear of failure, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, helicopter parent, Herbert Marcuse, high net worth, hiring and firing, income inequality, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, mass incarceration, medical residency, minimum wage unemployment, Myron Scholes, Nate Silver, New Economic Geography, new economy, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, precariat, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, school choice, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, six sigma, Skype, stakhanovite, stem cell, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, telemarketer, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, Thomas Davenport, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, transaction costs, traveling salesman, universal basic income, unpaid internship, Vanguard fund, War on Poverty, Winter of Discontent, women in the workforce, working poor, Yochai Benkler, young professional, zero-sum game

As the economist Robert Solow, whose work on economic growth won him the Nobel Prize, once wryly admitted, it is “somewhat embarrass[ing] . . . that what everyone feels to have been a technological revolution, a drastic change in our productive lives, has been accompanied everywhere . . . by a slowing-down of productivity growth, not by a step up. We can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” Robert Solow, “We’d Better Watch Out,” New York Times, July 12, 1987 (reviewing Stephen S. Cohen and John Zysman, Manufacturing Matters: The Myth of the Post-Industrial Economy). Conclusion: What Should We Do? “a thousand years of successful German history”: The phrase comes from Alexander Gauland, the head of the populist Alternativ für Deutschland.