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The Lever of RichesTechnological Creativity and Economic Progress$
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Joel Mokyr

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780195074772

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195074772.001.0001

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(p.301) Chapter Twelve Epilogue
The Lever of Riches

Joel Mokyr

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the search for the causes of technological progress. It observes that, in the past ten years, a veritable revolution has occurred in a wide variety of fields, from genetic engineering to consumer electronics. The chapter notes that the essence of technological progress is its unpredictability, and that nothing in the historical record seems to indicate that the creation of new technological opportunities—as opposed to their exploitation—is subject to diminishing returns, fatigue, old age, or exhaustion. It opines that if Cardwell's Law can be extrapolated into the future, no single society should expect to be on the cutting edge of technology forever. As Schumpeter stressed, the enemy of technological progress was not the lack of useful new ideas, but the social forces that, for one reason or another, tried to preserve the status quo.

Keywords:   technological progress, revolution, genetic engineering, consumer electronics, Cardwell's Law, Schumpeter

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