Lawrence H. Summers
Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus, Harvard University

Technology and the Human Experience

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Larry Summers believes that technology enabled by sense has shaped history more than any other single force.

Lawrence H. Summers

Lawrence H. Summers is an American economist. He is the Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard University, where he became one of the university's youngest tenured faculty at age 28.

The author of over 150 journal articles, Dr. Summers' wide-ranging contributions to economic research were recognized with the John Bates Clark Medal, given every two years to the outstanding American economist under the age of 40. He was also the first social scientist to receive the National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman Award for outstanding scientific achievement.

Beyond his academic career, Dr. Summers has held a number of distinguished appointments in government. He previously served as Director of the National Economic Council for the Obama Administration, Secretary of the Treasury for the Clinton Administration, and Chief Economist of the World Bank.

Lawrence Summers received his S.B. from MIT and his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard. He and his wife Elisa New, a professor of English at Harvard, have six children.


Lawrence Summers: So it seems to me that technology that is brought by science, and the way in which that technology is organizes and applied, is the central force that drives history. And that has both a scientific and a technological dimension. And it also has the social scientific dimension; the domain of economics; the domain of politics; the domain of sociology, of how society organizes itself as all of this changes.

And I emphasize the importance of this in part not to say that human nature doesn’t in a profound way shape history; not to say that the forces of jealousy and anger and love and greed and the stuff of great tragedy aren’t central in shaping history.

But they are relatively constant, it seems to me, the range of human emotion, the response to provocation of human beings. I doubt these things are fundamentally different today than they were in the times of the classics. And yet the world is hugely different today.


Recorded On: June 13,  2007