Why the Internet Hasn't Helped the Economy: It's Too Green a Technology

Although the creation of the Internet is thought to mark a new era in human history, its effect on society, especially in economic terms, has proven unremarkable.

Although the creation of the Internet is thought to mark a new era in human history, its effect on society, especially in economic terms, has proven unremarkable. Known as Solow's Paradox, after the Nobel Prize winning economist and MIT professor Robert Solow, data show that economic productivity has decreased since the creation of the Internet.

In fact, the more we invest in information technology as a nation, the less efficient our economy becomes. This is not a causal relationship, to be sure, but it's troubling when we consider how past technological innovation has effected the nation.

The economic gains achieved by last century's technology, from automobiles to indoor appliances, are enormous compared to those of our present digital age. From 1939 to 2000, economic productivity increased nearly three percent each year, but from its peak in 2009, productivity has declined. In other words, longer hours are needed to achieve the same economic output.

History also shows us it takes time for technology to find it's right place in society. The technology that enabled the telephone, for example, was originally intended to let people listen to live opera from their homes. So what digital technology looks like later in the century is truly anybody's guess.

Though as Neil deGrasse Tyson explains, future economies will always rely on large investments in science and technology:

Read more at Wired

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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