21st Century Thinking: When Things Get Easier

Matt Ridley makes an interesting point about modern life. In modern times, it has become much less difficult to earn enough money to buy necessities. We work less, for example, in order to buy an hour’s worth of light in the evening.. Most of the time, we take this easier way of living for granted. But it would amaze our ancestors as much as the performance of any gadget.

In the 20th century, the translated into the so called “consumer society”. It was easier and cheaper to buy whatever one wanted or needed. So is that the end of the road? Will the 21st century just be more of the same — even easier living?

The answer is most likely “”yes”. We already can see ways to harness and use energy more cheaply. And with 3d printing, we are likely to dramatically reduce production and distribution costs. And with digital communication, we are likely to dramatically reduce transaction costs across the board. An example – the ever expanding resource base for learning how to do things better. Another example? the dramatically reduced costs of shopping via internet. Or the dramatically reduced costs of tracking your health and challenges to it. You get the idea.

But that is not all that will change. When costs are reduced further, new possibilities arise. So, for example, in the 20th century, traveling to the moon became a possibility then a reality. Movies, radio and TV evolved to provide more entertainment. These are just a few examples of the many.

So what side benefits will further reductions in costs bring? I believe that it will become much easier for us all to dabble in learning. Not just because we have to , but as a form of entertainment. Platforms to support ongoing learning are already here — though the fun part is to be developed. Is that possible? Well, you might keep in mind that early movies, radio and TV were not nearly as entertaining as they became over time.


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