by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Rich Karlgaard of Forbes interviews technology prophet George Gilder about the long-term outlook for technology innovation.
Q: Is technology progress accelerating or decelerating at the level of society?
Gilder: It’s continuing to advance, accelerating in some areas, such as cryptography and sensors, and bogging down in others, such as semiconductors and “clean energy.” We don’t even have robust distributed power. I completely agree with Peter Thiel on the essential thesis that technology progress is not inevitable. It’s the product of human creativity, which always comes as a surprise to us. If creativity didn’t come as a surprise, we wouldn’t need it, and socialism would work. Today we need creativity across the board. …
… Q: But today learning is captured and stored forever on billions of devices. It’s not going to disappear.
Gilder: We’re still at risk from this kind of amnesia. We’ve forgotten the real entrepreneurial sources of creativity and progress. In my last book, The Scandal of Money, I talk about governments having forgotten what money is for and how it works. As a result, they’re issuing more and more of it, on the assumption that somehow money constitutes wealth, instead of realizing that money measures wealth. …
… Q: … [F]inish your point about small business stagnation. The Kauffman Foundation agrees. It studies a broad base of small businesses and startups, not just the glamorous unicorns in California and Seattle, and has concluded the same thing: Business formation has really slowed down.
Gilder: And these are all bad signs. They don’t represent some fundamental change in technology. They reflect an attack on the educational system by foisting the smothering $1.5 trillion burden in loans on students to support a ridiculously overwrought leftist bureaucracy of indoctrination. They also reflect an expansion in the administrative state through massive increases in regulations, rules that really favor big companies. And not because of their alignment with technological opportunities, but because of their abilities to lobby, lawyer, litigate and find paths through the maze of rules.