Are best invention ideas already been used up?
After the American Civil War, the rest of the century was dominated by what people called “great inventions.”. Technological advancements were made to replace manual labor. Television was invented during 1940–1950, while the very useful telephone was invented in the year 1876. The years spanning 1870–1970 composed what was called the “special century” due to the unique technological breakthroughs that remain unmatched, even in this century. However, the golden age of invention wasn’t kind beyond 1970. Now one question stands in the minds of people. Are we experiencing technological stagnation? Has everything been invented already?
According to a viral article by the author Zi Shui Dong Liu, the world is currently experiencing technology stagnation. One of the proof is the lack of new fundamental scientific discovery for the past forty years. The machinery or technological advancement that people are experiencing nowadays are no longer new inventions; they are the same tools, only improved.
Modern technology either complements or replaces the human workforce. Due to this technological upgrade, there has been a visible slowdown in the growth of median income. From 1947–1973, the US median income has increased by more than 100%; however, from 1973–2004, it has slowed to an increase of only 20%.
Tyler Cowen’s paper states that the slowdown was driven from the exploitation of immigrant labor and the so-called “low-hanging fruit” of intellectual exploration. All best invention ideas are used up through the century. Every inventor in this century is trying hard to find a new design and invention that is unique from past discoveries.
There are a few factors behind the stagnation. One of which is the high complexity of technology to be invented. New ideas have dried up and new things should be discovered. The inventions from the special century came from the need of people to replace slow manual labor with a fast, efficient, and cost-effective technology. Inventors of past generations were diverse and creative. The problem of this generation is not the lack of genius or mastery, but the lack of diversity.
One of the highlights of the twenty-first century is the development of the IT industry. The worldwide web became the current generation’s haven. As a result of the vast consumption of the internet paired with globalization, individuality was slowly eliminated. People’s desires and values are becoming similar by following the trends dictated by the internet.
If technological stagnation continues through the century, it may come a time that energy will be severely exhausted and people may lose any alternative. A solution, suggested Zi Shui Dong Liu, is to go through the rule of evolution. Since innovation is a chance encounter when one thinks differently from the masses, diversity should be greatly encouraged.
Technology is a double-edged sword to society. It can be a great help in people’s productivity or a tool that can make us forget our humanity. Discover how a nation broke away from the obsession with technology and how they rebuilt their world in my book, A New Age. Share your thoughts with me in the comments section or chat with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.
Aribb. “Are We Stagnating?” Medium. October 15, 2017. Accessed March 3, 2018. https://medium.com/@aribb/technology-stagnation-and-what-could-we-do-about-it-9998dca6ac11.
Gordon, Robert J. “The Ascent and Descent of Growth.” The Rise and Fall of American Growth. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2016. Accessed March 4, 2018. http://assets.press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10544.pdf.
Nieuweboer, Ingmar. “Everything Is Already Invented.” NextNature. March 26, 2018. Accessed March 3, 2018. https://www.nextnature.net/2016/03/everything-already-invented/.