Friday, January 25, 2013

Paul Krugman on progress

Paul Krugman gets skeptical:

By and large, I’m in the camp of those disillusioned about technology — mainly, I think, because the future isn’t what it used to be. A case in point is Herman Kahn’s The Year 2000, a 1967 exercise in forecasting that offered a convenient list of “very likely” technological developments. When 2000 actually did roll around, the striking thing was how over-optimistic the list was: Kahn foresaw most things that actually did happen, but also many things that didn’t (and still haven’t). And economic growth fell far short of his expectations.
It is often the case that Krugman has a relatively unique take on things.  Still, he is slowly coming around to having some upside views on one innovation:

But driverless cars break the pattern: even Kahn’s list of “less likely” possibilities only mentioned automated highways, not city streets, which is where we will apparently be in the quite near future.

I have been seeing a lot of comments on automated cars lately.  Of the West Coast Stat bloggers, I think I can be fairly described as the technological optimist.  But even I worry that there could be some rather unexpected consequences to such a change, espeically if you have both humans and automated cars operating at the same time on the same roads. 

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