This is really quite glorious from the Senior Lecturer

I have, for a long time, been telling audiences that there is no new technology coming along to drive our economy along. When doing so I have always got out my phone and said that the appeal they have to offer will run out of road when we come to realise that there are, after all, finite things they can really do for us. Confirmation comes this morning from the FT, who note:

Note what he’s saying. Technology is stagnating…..

Then there are … mobile phones. Never mind the fact that “free minutes” has suppressed the PCE index this year. The really interesting point is that this symbolised a bigger trend: rapid digital innovation is expanding the productive capacity of our economic system in unexpected ways. This is changing price signals in a manner that economists and statisticians struggle to understand — or measure.

Our statistical systems were developed for a 20th-century industrial world, where goods and services had tangible prices and consistent qualities. They can count goods and serices from motor cars to massages well. But statisticians struggle to measure the impact of rapid product quality changes, such as when a $400 phone suddenly offers dramatically more services than a similarly priced one a year ago. The current statistical systems also fail to capture non-monetary transactions such as the barter that takes place when consumers download “free” apps and use “free” cyber services in exchange for giving their data to technology companies for “free”.

That’s from Gillian Tett. Who is pointing out quite how fast technological advance is zooming along. And which the Spudmonster uses as proof that technology is stagnating. Says Snippa:

We’re living in a new economy shaped by, but no longer driven by, technology.

And his example of this stagnation is the mobile phone, the fastest adopted technology in all of human history.

And they let this man teach economics?

40 thoughts on “This is really quite glorious from the Senior Lecturer”

  1. This in the week NASA agreed the new to-LEO reuseable spaceplane & updated on the latest progress on the interplanetary crewed spacecraft.
    Oh, & then there’s the revolution in 2dimensional materials, doped buckyball catalysts, quantum computing….
    Naah…Technology’s just so stagnant these days

  2. Flexible, wearable, self powering electronics. The advance that’s rapidly going to trashcan smartfones

  3. In my own little field of CNC machine tools 5 axis mills and 7+ axis mill turn centers are tumbling in price to a point where even small jobbing shops can afford them.
    With lights out machining productivity soars and labour is reduced.
    But what do I know ? I’m just a simple engineer and not the Sage of Ely .

  4. Cloud computing, AI and blockchain – 3 massively disruptive technologies that an old fool like Murphy won’t see because he doesn’t know how or where to look.

  5. BIS:
    Not so sure about wearable technology when it comes to anything sophisticated.
    For example, at the moment I can wear any clothes in the world, however cheap or expensive and add state of the art communications through the very minor inconvenience of having to carry a phone.
    With all the advanced wearable technology I’ve seen, to carry the equivalent to a mobile phone at anything like the same cost I would have to wear the same piece of clothing every single day.
    Of course there might be simple and inexpensive but useful additions to clothes which might become popular, but anything advanced and expensive is only going to be bought by the people who can afford to buy diamond encrusted platinum phones which are no more functional than a cheapo Chinese Android. A very niche market having virtually no effect generally.

  6. Bloke in Tejas in Normandy

    I hate to say this, but a smartphone is just last year’s computer shrunk horribly in size and cost and bolted onto a radio, running essentially the same software that PCs have run for decades.

    The advances in tech are simply semiconductor manufacturing, as has been the case for as long as we’ve heard about Moore’s Law.

    It’s exactly because we’ve been getting a free ride from the manufacturing technology (note that these advances are quite difficult and rather expensive, but the results are a rising tide for all) that there have been very very few computing-oriented technology improvements other than in the silicon for about as long as Moore’s Law has been with us.

    I rather look forward to the manufacturing technology running out of steam. Then we’ll need to look much harder at better ways of doing things – unless all we ever want is the same old same old.

    BUT there’s so much money to be made in flogging semiconductor-based software driven boxes (well, there is for Apple – the others don’t seem to have margins worth boasting about) that when the manufacturing slows down noticeably, there will be novel ways tried – and with a bit of luck, invisibly to customers (it’s a bit of a bugger to hear that the new box does everything 100x faster at 100th the power, but none of your software will run on it..)

    Now, do I think the Spud has thought his stagnation commentary through? Hell, no.

  7. @JS
    It’s not so much computers in clothing. Although that’s doable. It’s moving away from a flat box, with a screen on the front, with a ridiculously short battery life. Foldable screens. Splitting the box up into discrete components. Using movement to generate electricity to power it all.

  8. Every time he thumps out a sentence with his fat pasty paws he displays his ignorance. Does he ever get anything right? Is there any subject he knows anything about?

  9. Diogenes

    No. None. If he went on Mastermind he’d do poorly on the specialist subject musings of Richard Murphy since he contradicts himself constantly.

  10. Dr Keith Crainshaw’s contribution on that thread is masterly:

    “As you well know yourself Richard, you are always right. In this case, saying you are wrong you are again right.”

  11. Technology is moving forward in leaps and bounds – just look at the latest invention – fidget spinners.

  12. SadButMadLad – yes, fidget spinners. That have been around for years.

    Like selfie sticks and hello kitty stuff the popularity has shot up in a particular short space of time but the idea is not new.

  13. I suppose the worst thing about Snippa is that he thinks he is making an earth-shattering comment about the mobile phone, a gadget that fits in your pocket and which enables you to make and receive phone calls, send messages, take photos, play music, watch TV, access the Internet, control your heating, work on computer files, process emails, read books and magazines, do calculations, make measurements, identify music tracks, keep your accounts up to date, interact with bankers and brokers, browse my porn, book escorts. Truly a useless and overrated gadget.

  14. I wonder if he knows that his university students will be able to watch him in action in Polly’s Double Trouble?

  15. Unless Apple launches a new product range of course that fuckwit is going to think technology is stagnating, he has no understanding of the fields he claims to be qualified in let alone something as broad as technology.

  16. The phone improves in minor ways over time but is still a smartphone. The ability to do stuff on it or with it also improves.
    With 5g being rolled out eventually the phone will improve again as download / stream speed increases.

    That’s just one device. There are other changes coming in or recently arrived being rolled out.

    You think Richard would like to tell that nice guy in charge of Tesla about stagnating technology? Perhaps tell the car makers such as Volvo about the stagnating technology?

  17. Thing is. Murphy WANTS technology to be stagnating. He WANTS there to be a depression. He WANTS everything to go tits up.

    It would validate him and his ideas.

    He predicts these things because he desperately wants them to come true. Every tiny glimmer of a hint of evidence is trumpeted as ‘proof’. All evidence that he is wrong he simply ignores.

  18. AndrewC just to be fair to Snippa, when we were shooting “When Polly Pegged Richie” (she wanted to make a film showing how women are empowered by porn),she walked onto the set with a strap-on that made me goggle. Linford Christie would need a much larger lunchbox to house it. But Richie took it like a pro with just the occasional squeal audible through his ball-gag

  19. Afterwards he explained that he normally keeps his phone up his rectum. It seems he thought that was how the fitness monitor got its data

  20. Rocco, I like your short summary-example list of what smart phones can do.

    My working class and tradesmen employees and their peers have learned to use their smart phones too, and well.

    Most requests for materials, parts and tools are made by texted photo of the item required, taken from the remnant of the broken or used up item, and those photos are shown to the material, tool or part guy.

    Laser levels now feed into smart phones via blue tooth. My more or less illiterate carpenter explained the details to me in extremely technical language, which he picked up on the fly.

    Site coordination between trades or master tradesman to apprentice have become incredibly efficient. This happened explosively when unlimited calling plans became cheap and common. Most of these guys have earpieces and will be on their phones hours each day while working with their hands. Sample: Electrician to apprentice: “OK, connection is fixed, flip the breakers on in sequence and I’ll tell you when you have the right one”.

  21. you can take pix of gouges in your car paintwork , send them to the bloke and get an estimate online, Admittedly, it doesn’t explain the productivity gap in the UK and Europe – it does suggest that the gap exists in offices rather than on the ground where tools are used and jobs are done. for some reason, management are letting staff browse the internet and are not getting rid of the people who do not add value

  22. When will City “University” accept that the man is an ignorant, arrogant cretin? What will it take?
    Any University worth its salt should now be oriented towards the transformative tsunami that sensors, data & machine learning will deliver in a short few years. But City have this utter fuckwit teaching their students the opposite. He is worse than useless, he is a flat-earther, an individual so stupid and so narcisstic that he is a danger to all who come into contact with him.
    Would pay good money to see this cunt schooled by someone like Hermann Hauser.

  23. Andrew C

    It’s worse than that. Murphy wants technology to stop so his Courageous State can control everything. If technology develops, then control is lost. In other words, he wants to turn Britain into North Korea

  24. Kevin Hague spent his Saturday morning going through “Murphy’s latest epistle from the planet bonkers”.

    “Like an accident investigator looking at the Titanic disaster and saying “I’m frankly bemused by why that ship sank – I want to hear more about the way the deck-chairs were arranged, I think that might explain it” he disappears off down a rabbit hole questioning accounting treatments he clearly hasn’t understood or thought through – don’t look at the iceberg folks!”

  25. Bloke in North Dorset

    Pcar’s link sums it up. The left can’t cope with change. They need a static or even regressing economy for their control frackers to work.

    Once it was farm labourers, then it was buggy whip manufacturers, now its taxi drivers. Whilst we should be prepared to help the individuals affected it has to be drilled in to people that new technology brings wealth at the macro level.

  26. the appeal they have to offer will run out of road when we come to realise that there are, after all, finite things they can really do for us.

    Unlike all of those previous technical advances which provided an infinite number of things they can do for us.

    Does he still wash clothes by hand because his washing machine, after all, can only provide a finite number of things for him, namely automatically wash his clothes?

  27. bloke in spain
    August 26, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Fair enough, as your suggestion presumably doesn’t rely on wearing specific, inherently-expensive clothes.
    Most of the pieces i have seen about wearable technology are essentially about, say, a jacket with technology woven (often literally) into the fabric. Outside of very specialist applications where the utility outweighs the cost I don’t see that taking off in a big way as the technology isn’t available to you if you aren’t wearing this particular (or functionally identical) jacket.
    On the other hand, as you seem to be implying, technology which attaches to a person regardless of the clothes they are wearing is infinitely more practical and to a certain extent has been around for ages. To be flippant, it has been since at least the invention of the wrist watch – and using the kinetic energy of the person wearing it has been here since the self-winding wrist watch.
    I don’t think we are really disagreeing.

  28. What most people never grasp is how much innovation is sitting in people’s heads or on scribbles that are just waiting for one or more components to happen or get cheap enough, small enough, reliable enough or low power enough.

    I’m working on something that wouldn’t be able to exist without smartphones, fantastically cheap data storage and fantastically cheap cloud hosting.

  29. Bloke on M4, don’t you realise that unless it is funded by the government it will be useless innovation designed to make a few people very wealthy while the rest of society is crushed by poverty and inequality…etc etc Capitalism is on its last legs etc etc

  30. “With 5g being rolled out eventually the phone will improve again as download / stream speed increases.”

    I disagree, faster speeds will improve things of course but that’s nothing more than a small step as besides some latency issues I don’t feel my connection being slightly faster or slightly slower would greatly change how I experience or use the device.

    Next major thing is probably going to be when they unify their desktop and mobile OS but people have been saying it’s software they need to fix for many years now so this is hardly news.

  31. SimonB,

    Desktop and mobile are different. What we want on a phone vs on a full screen. Surface does this nicely, switching if you plug in. A bit more power on phones and they’ll be good for this.

    But I think phones, PCs and tablets are basically done. Dixons Carphone made a profit warning about people holding on to iPhones longer and hoping for a boost with the iPhone 8, but that’s wishful thinking. A £150 Moto phone is pretty damn good. Not iPhone, but the differences are pretty marginal.

  32. I hate to say this, but a smartphone is just last year’s computer shrunk horribly in size and cost and bolted onto a radio, running essentially the same software that PCs have run for decades.

    Sure, if you look at computing.

    But the advances have been in screens, batteries, input devices, output technology (e.g. Bluetooth) and the associated applications that they can take advantage of (e.g. GPS).

  33. Chester, of course. Some people find it hard to fit a desktop pc in their trouser pocket. Bloke in Tejas is probably one of those improbably obese Yanks who has to turn sideways to get into a lift

  34. Bloke in North Dorset

    SimonB’s right about 5G. 3G was data laid on top of a voice system and crap when it came to data. The technology jump was 4G which is a data technology with voice as an afterthought. 5G is basically an efficiency upgrade to 4G which will be deployed mostly in high usage areas.

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