Self-destructive Technological Success

Technological progress is susceptible to self-destructive success.  Technologies develop in networks, in which the growth of Tech A  will lead to growth in Tech B and C, while Tech D, which Tech A replaced, will decline with its dependencies (Techs E & F).  That is the way things progress.  At a certain point, a new technology comes along and replaces something that is old.  We want this to happen, because the old technology will eventually lose steam (there is only so many improvements that can be made to a pencil), and that portion of the economy that is tied to that technology will stagnate or even die.  Think of it like a cell in a body.  Eventually it gets old and dies.  If there is nothing to replace it, the body itself will get closer to dying.  So, we want replacements.  It keeps the body (economy as a whole) healthy.

But sometimes, usually because of politics in some way, shape or form, the old becomes so entrenched that all disruptions from the new are repelled.  Maybe we are just so damn proud of one of our industries because they have been tied emotionally to our national pride, and to see that industry decline and  become replaced by something new feels like our whole identity is dying with it.  So, we prop up industries that can no longer survive on their own.  This is like mortgaging a future in order to live today.  That is exactly what it is.  The more we prevent natural economic death, the more we invite future stagnation.  This is self-destructive success in technology.  A technology becomes so successful that we cannot allow it to die naturally, and in so doing, we prevent anything new from ever having a chance to live.

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