The best years have passed?

  Today, we are surrounded by a dizzying array of new machines and new algorithms, and it seems that technology is creating great economic prosperity. However, according to Robert J. Gordon, a macroeconomist and economic historian who teaches at Northwestern University in the United States, the growth rate of total factor productivity (TFP) in the past 20 years has not been as fast as that after World War II. For decades.
  TFP calculates the remaining productivity growth after labor growth and capital investment. This is our best attempt to measure innovations and improvements that are difficult to define. It is these innovations and improvements, borrowing the famous saying of Steve Jobs, to “work smarter” and bring us humans Continuous improvement of living standards.
  According to Gordon’s calculations, unlike the technocrats who paint the rosy future all the time, TFP has been basically flat in recent decades. He found that since 1970, TFP has only been one-third of the growth rate from 1920 to 1970. In other words, this means that we are poorer and work longer hours, leaving our grandchildren with a worse world than we inherited from our grandchildren.
  Gordon’s statistics are a blow to those who believe that development and progress are justified. For example, for most Americans, it is very likely that in the future, the standard of living will stagnate. Social mobility in the United States (that is, the probability that children will live better than their parents) is decreasing, which is an extremely disturbing fact for this country known as the “land of opportunity”. Entrepreneurship capabilities are declining (the amazing recent achievements of the technology industry are the exception, not the rule), and wages and benefits as a percentage of GDP are also declining.
  Looking at the world, a series of “reverse” factors have emerged, and they are still strengthening: the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing, the level of education is no longer improving, the population is aging, and so on. If the next generation of working-class incomes remain stagnant or continue to decline, what social and political consequences will it bring?
  The global economy is full of rocks. In the past, it was only because of the rising tides that the people on the boats mistakenly thought that they could go down the river and travel at a rapid pace. Now that the water level is receding and the reefs are fully visible, our next generation’s voyages are suddenly full of danger. Gordon wrote: “Since the end of the 19th century, the living standards of every generation of young people will double that of their parents. Can today’s young people still do it?”
  ”The best years are over.” Perhaps this view is incompatible with the high-tech optimism spread by high-tech companies and venture capitalists. However, even in their base camps, that is, industries that are highly dependent on information technology and communication technology, their TFP, output or employment growth have not performed better.
  What’s more frightening is that artificial intelligence may worsen inequality in the future. The decisions of a few very successful super-large technology companies in the world have created the technological landscape of the United States and the world. These technology giants often have low labor demand and their business models need to rely on automation technology. Professor Daron Acemoglu of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology pointed out that the corporate vision of these large technology companies is often centered on “algorithms instead of labor”, which will exacerbate the already severe economic growth that is not shared. The problems caused by the gradual disappearance of high-quality, high-paying, and stable jobs, and the actual wage level of low-educated workers have been declining year by year.
  For the next generation, they instinctively understand that involution is their destiny. They are worried about the world they will inherit. The biggest feature of this world is insecurity: economic insecurity, personal insecurity, and public life. How to enrich their lives and get rid of the frustrating purposelessness will be a huge challenge for this generation. As parents, we probably need to admit that we owe our offspring a better world than the world we inherited, so we can only meet the challenge with them