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Lant Pritchett on the limits of information technology; or, The Moore the Merrier?

I think people have been seduced into thinking that the advance in information technology is going to bring more change to the future than I think it is.

Why do I say this? I think because, if you look at Moore’s Law – the fundamental increase in [the capacity of] an integrated circuit – it’s been going for about fifty years. Which means there’s been about a ten-billion-fold increase in computing power.

There’s lots of things that over that ten-billion-fold increase have gotten enormously better, but there’s lots of things that haven’t changed at all.

So I ask people, when you think about Moore’s law and its changes in your life: “Is your marriage any better?”

And most people say, “Well, sometimes, I can can call on skype when I’m out of town,” but mostly people think – and the evidence says – people’s marriages are no better than they were before a ten-billion-fold increase… and if a ten-billion-fold increase didn’t bring about a better marriage, a hundred-billion-fold, a trillion-fold [increase] is unlikely to do so.

So I think there’s a whole bunch of phenomena that are just fundamentally human and fundamentally social that people keep expecting technology to be the fix for…

Lant Pritchett – Misconceptions about the Future of Development

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