Summary of Building Taller Ladders

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Science and technology have allied for centuries to create new goods, markets and production methods, expanding economies in the process. Today, explosive leaps in the field of computing underlie gains in research, manufacturing and services. According to economist Joel Mokyr, early 21st-century breakthroughs in areas such as materials science, biology, artificial intelligence and lasers will propel economic progress far into the future. getAbstract suggests this broad-brush look at the interdependence of science and economics to executives and investors.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How science and technology coevolve,
  • How technological advancement drives economic growth, and
  • Why early 21st-century technology breakthroughs will benefit the economy for years to come.
 

About the Author

Joel Mokyr is a professor of economics at Northwestern University.

 

Summary

Some economists argue that economic growth driven by technology is slowing, while others are much more optimistic about scientific progress. History has demonstrated that technological developments both increase economic productivity and equip science with more powerful tools for discoveries, which then – “in a symbiotic manner” – give rise to better technology. For example, the introduction of the microscope led to far-reaching scientific innovations at the granular level and yielded vast advances in the health care and medical sectors, from the discovery of germ theory to the decoding of DNA. The invention of the telescope in the 17th century also exemplifies a breakthrough technology that, in the 21st century, continues to significantly improve magnification instruments and enable scientific finds on an ever-more rarefied scale.


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