poly: General Purpose Tech & Econ Growth

From: Robin Hanson <hanson@econ.berkeley.edu>
Date: Fri Jan 08 1999 - 13:19:05 PST

I bought & read parts of this book this last weekend.
It seems highly relevant to speculations about the economic
impact of future techs like nanotech, AI, space travel, etc.

    General Purpose Technologies & Economic Growth
            editied by Elhanan Helpman
   320 pages, Nov, 1998, MIT Press; ISBN: 0262082632

Most economists have viewed technological progress as an
incremental process. A few have focused on the role of
drastic innovations - those that introduce a discontinuity.
The contributors to this volume are concerned with the
type of drastic innovation called general purpose
technologies (GPTs). A GPT has the potential to affect
the entire economic system and can lead to far-reaching
changes in such social factors as working hours and
constraints on family life. Examples of GPTs are the
steam engine, electricity, and the computer. The study
of GPTs is relatively new. A universal theoretical
framework for dealing with GPTs does not yet exist. The
essays in this book both further our understanding of
GPT-driven economic growth and lay the foundation for
further developments of the available frameworks.

Robin Hanson
hanson@econ.berkeley.edu http://hanson.berkeley.edu/
RWJF Health Policy Scholar FAX: 510-643-8614
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 510-643-1884
Received on Fri Jan 8 13:34:00 1999

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