Thursday, February 28, 2008

Brad DeLong Lecture slide: The Invention Transition

From his Berkeley Economics course: Brad DeLong's Slides: The Invention Transition

  • Population (n)--two heads are better than one
  • Education (fi)--standing on the shoulders of giants
  • Societal openness (li)--how many people can you talk to before being "shown the instruments"
  • Means of communication--language, writing, printing, etc....
  • If these four are hobbled, the pace of invention will be slow
    • Fortunately, no global technological regress (that we remember, at least)
    • Only seven known--and disputed--known examples of "local" technological regress
    • Iron Dark Age, Medieval Dark Age, Medieval Greenland Vikings, Mayan Heartland, Mississippi Mound-Builders, Easter Island, Flinders Island...

DeLong's "Chains of Innovation" equation has a parameter representing "number of links to others"; the "economy-wide innovation" value tends to infinity as the number of links and "probability of successful transmission" increase.

In my lifetime I've seen the "links to others" bit grow exponentially.

Hello Singularity.

I was struck by the comment that there are only seven known examples of "local" technological regress. Technology is sticky.

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