Sunday, October 9, 2011

Birth Pangs?

Walter Russell Mead's post on the W Brian Arthur essay is itself very interesting.

As a species, we will spend less time in the coal mines and more time in the theater, less time chopping cotton and more time writing novels.

Reshaping our social institutions and our mental habits to capitalize on the vast and unprecedented opportunities of the information revolution is going to take a lot of time, energy and creativity. The pain and drama of the shift will absorb our political system — and painful as it will be in the US, it is likely to be still more disruptive and difficult elsewhere.

But unless we get it profoundly wrong, these are birth pangs, not death agonies. The millennial generation will build a new world, and it will be an extraordinary place.

The problem is most standard analysis just isn't coming to grips with this. It is a tremendously exciting opportunity, but much can go wrong. The industrial revolution produced dark satanic mills for a century, and enclosure of the land, and faceless bureaucracy, and slag heaps, even as it transformed humanity's chances vastly for the better.

Even the most marvelous cures can have side-effects.

It is important to have hope when the economy is looking so overcast and gloomy. European banks are still tottering on the brink. But I think this is something the invisible hand of the market alone cannot deal with. It needs purposive intelligence as well.

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