Friday, 3 December 2021

"The Limitless Potential of Technology"

"Many intellectuals since the Industrial Revolution have assumed that economic growth is fundamentally limited. But [Mark Zuckerberg's announcement of the] introduction of the Metaverse is a good example of why this line of thinking is wrong. In his book The Ultimate Resource 2, the economist Julian Simon explains why there is really no fundamental limit to economic growth, not even resource scarcity, because one resource can always be substituted for another, provided sufficient ingenuity is applied to the problem.
    "Using lead batteries as an example, Simon writes that, 'What is relevant to us is not whether we can find any lead in existing lead mines but whether we can have the services of lead batteries at a reasonable price; it does not matter to us whether this is accomplished by recycling lead, by making batteries last forever, or by replacing lead batteries with another contraption.'
    "In recent decades, technology has already substituted less efficient resource use for more efficient resource use in countless ways. Instead of using up more land to build new hotels, for example, Airbnb has found a way to house travelers in already-existing spare bedrooms that were often going unused. Telephone companies have utilized outer space, a resource that was previously mostly useless, as a facility for communication infrastructure when previous phone technology required filling Earth’s precious real estate with cables.
    "And now, the Metaverse may provide humanity with more technological options than ever before. By allowing us to fulfill an ever greater portion of our desires in digital rather than material space, it will allow us to do far more, and it will have us conserving rather than consuming resources such as fuel, building materials, and land.
    "The Metaverse won’t solve everything, and it will create some unforeseen hardships and have some negative side effects just like any new technology. But if entrepreneurs and consumers are allowed to do what they do best, it is precisely technological progress like this that can help us solve the problems of the future and bring about more prosperity than we have yet begun to fathom." 

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