People Can’t Deal With Change

Robin Hanson has a great comment that I can’t seem to link through to but have on my RSS reader:

Most people are surprised to hear that the world economy doubles roughly every fifteen years; when they think back fifteen years, the world doesn’t seem that different… In fact, one of the reasons why change can be so fast is that most of it happens behind the scenes. If ordinary people had to notice and deal with more changes, we just couldn’t change this much.

Here’s a contentious thought: what if the 90s tech “bubble” wasn’t in fact a bubble at all, but was rather an accurate prediction for how much an economy will change, but over the wrong time horizon. The Internet and related technologies require adoption by individuals – change you not only can see, but need to implement. The baby boomers were just never cut out for this. It won’t be until people born in the 80s and later, who grew up with computers, take over industry that we can hope to see widespread adoption.

And when I say accurate prediction, I don’t mean general economic growth, but economic growth specifically attributable to technologies developed in the 90s.