The biggest single fallacy that most modern economists are suffering from — tens of thousands of American economists and hundreds of thousands of Chinese economists all reading from the same text books — is that they all think that the explosion of economic growth that took place in northern England between about 1780 and 1980 can be continued. That is, that it can supposedly continue in the advanced countries, and then radiate into the rest of the world until everybody has a ‘high’ standard of living.
This will plainly not be the case because, apart from a relatively few Virgin space flights for the imaginatively-deprived, there are no more new consumer goods or experiences for the masses. We — rich and poor alike — already have the full kit to fill the waking hours of the day.
The social differential between the elite and the masses is that the former are more intelligent, more good -looking and healthier than the latter. The economic difference is that the former are steadily becoming more prosperous while the latter are suffering steadily declining earnings if we compute them with the past in real money terms.
The reason why the elite are prospering and the masses are not is that automation is steadily encroaching on the jobs of the latter. The reason why the elite will not be affected is: “Otherwise, who will programme the programmers?”
The DNA-based machine tools of the future will not need to be scrapped out and rebuilt at great expense as the present type are. They’ll just need the addition or subtraction of a gene now and again and, of course, constant improvement in software in order to reduce energy requirements — as against one’s competitors in other countries. Investments in the future will not be so much spent on hardware as on the education of the elite.