Hard Not to Be an Optimist

dolgachov_optimism© CAN STOCK PHOTO / DOLGACHOV

It’s hard not to be an optimist when looking at these trends:

 

The coming productivity boom
Michael Mandel and Bret Swanson write for the Tech CEO Council:

It is amazing how many of our nation’s biggest challenges can be addressed by a simple formula: faster growth more broadly shared. From infrastructure to healthcare, education to national security, crime to creativity, a bigger pie and a wider winner’s circle go far towards solving them. …

There is good news. With the arrival of powerful new technologies, we stand on the verge of a productivity boom. Just as networking computers accelerated productivity and growth in the 1990s, innovations in mobility, sensors, analytics, and artificial intelligence promise to quicken the pace of growth and create myriad new opportunities for innovators, entrepreneurs, and consumers. …

Healthcare, energy, and transportation, for example, are evolving into information industries. Smartphones and wearable devices will make healthcare delivery and data collection more effective and personal, while computational bioscience and customized molecular medicine will radically improve drug discovery and effectiveness. Artificial intelligence will assist doctors, and robots will increasingly be used for surgery and eldercare. The boom in American shale petroleum is largely an information technology phenomenon, and it’s just the beginning. Autonomous vehicles and smart traffic systems, meanwhile, will radically improve personal, public, and freight transportation in terms of both efficiency and safety, but they also will create new platforms upon which entirely new economic goods can be created.

 

The Cyber Age has hardly begun

Mark Mills writes:

The billions of dollars in economic value from information technology has been associated with improvements mainly in information-related activities: mail, news, entertainment, advertising, finance and travel services. That’s no accident, as those domains are relatively easy to digitize. Very little of the hardware world is digitized so far. The “smart” objects industry is dominated by monitoring and analysis. That’s valuable but doesn’t fundamentally alter how objects are created or operate. …

Infusing software into hardware so that it becomes invisible and reliable is hard. The physical world involves factors like inertia, friction and gravity, all of which present serious safety implications. Cyberphysical systems have to work with near perfection. The real, rather than virtual, world cannot tolerate the equivalent of frozen screens, reboots, video jitter, or iterative upgrades of sloppy software rushed to market. …

The U.S. now stands at the equivalent of 1920 for ubiquitous cyberphysical systems. Today’s two-speed economy is not permanent. It’s a sign that America is about to shift to the next level, driven by cyberphysical software. Economic growth and jobs will follow.