A great piece by Alex Magnin on the history of technological innovation and how the latest economic slump may pave the way for a more sustainable future:
The great technologies of our era – computing and the internet – drove twin bubbles and crashes. The late 1990’s internet-mania burst, and now internet technology is a much more robust, stable sector and a growth leader today. Similarly, the financial speculation of the last decades was largely computer-driven. Such highly-leveraged risk-taking would not have been possible without ever more powerful and (purportedly) accurate computer models. That this bubble has now also burst should be cause for hope.
Technological innovations can be transformational tools that change how we generate prosperity. Yet, in its very nature, innovation drives boom-bust economic patterns, and right now we are busted. History shows that we are likely to see a golden age ahead. The prosperity of the age of information technology may well be greater than all past booms combined. We have reason to be incredibly optimistic for the future. Innovation is not dead, and neither is progress. Like always, we are simply still learning how to use it.