By the time this article is up, it would’ve been two weeks since the infamous Joe Rogan and Elon Musk interview. If you, the reader, haven’t yet listened to the extensive two and a half hour podcast, I highly recommend parts of it,(no, not the portion where Elon Musk puffs a blunt), especially where they discuss artificial intelligence.
Now, assuming that you have a brief understanding of their discussion, I will also like to present the intent of this article. I felt that everybody was consumed by the smallest actions and too focused on the drop in Tesla stock that they forgot to step back and comprehend what was said. Listening to them casually talk about incredible advancements in technology I couldn’t help but wonder how is it that they live in such a different world from me. What is it that makes progression in different industries so disproportionate. It just seems rather unfair that we are able to consider breaking the interface barrier between us and our phones but are still struggling to provide in-house toilets to one-third of the world. For me, this thought came as a very strong priority check. Whilst this article is not meant to undermine the importance of technological advancements, or what people choose to invest in, I just merely want to state the contrast and inequality that is now more present than ever.
Firstly, it is important to settle what we actually mean by a firm that is in a technological industry. As such, think about Testa. Is Tesla a car manufacturer or a technological firm that just happens to also build cars alongside self-driving technology? As technology progresses, any firm can more or less be integrated into the technological industry. At the present moment, a formal definition states that a tech company is an entity that primarily focuses on delivering technology as a manufacturing good or as a service. Current industrial economic theory puts together some key factors that could be the basis of the difference in dynamics: knowledge, technology, firms, demand, and institutions. At first glance, it seems that the technology industry has hit the jackpot when it comes to all of those. It feeds the need for innovation and curiosity in such a way that it creates excitement. An older TedTalk explained this rush we get from technology as being related to the interconnectivity it provides. So it seems reasonable that we are invested in always creating something better and “more human”. To put things into perspective, the R&D spending in the technology industry by far tops any of the other sectors. The amount of money is estimated be enough to wipe out Italy’s entire debt, end world hunger, invest in your favorite stocks whilst still have enough money that you wouldn’t really know what to do with them. How you see this number is entirely up to you. For many tech enthusiasts it can be too little, yet for somebody who is more “old-fashioned,” it can be frightening.
On the other hand, when you look at education spending as a percentage of the world GDP we are merely talking about 5%. Of course, this number depends on every particular country, but it is way less than expected from a society that keeps on claiming progress. Wasn’t progress and innovation a product of knowledge and specialization? How is it that whilst we are keeping on creating and innovating, the school system seems to stagnate in another era. It seems rather unfair and wasteful that there is a perpetuation of this cycle of poverty and not enough initiative from any of the directions. Of course, education is costly and doesn’t show much short-term profit, but it brings high returns on the long-run for everybody involved. Many people see the problem of education as a distant one that is mostly related to the developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, but unfortunately, it is also present much closer than one would think. Most European nations are experiencing complete inequality in actually directing children towards good employment or further options. It seems that most schools are focusing on short-term exam results, rather on the actual importance of education and this mostly comes from bad incentives and a system lacking progress…
There is nothing wrong in promoting progress and innovation through the technological industry. It’s rather unbelievable to think how many advancements have been made in such a short period of time. It is, however, extremely interesting to stop for a second and think about the differences that those advancements have created. Of course, those can largely be explained by the money motive, but when every slogan relates to interconnectivity and progress, it is interesting how we are willing to overlook such big differences between the passes of our general development.