Which sectors will prove technologically stagnant?

Megan McArdle writes:

As the Boomers age, they will consume fewer of the things that we produce efficiently, and more of the things that we provide relatively inefficiently.

Here is more, and I hereby take Megan to be a robot pessimist

It is a revealing question to ask which sectors a person considers technologically stagnant.  Baumol claimed it is the performing arts, but TV and the internet have belied this; it is true that those media are not *live* performance but that is substituting objective aesthetic judgment for what consumers really care about.  People love Dexter, whether or not there is someone actually in the box.  For stagnant sectors, I will nominate:

1. Haircuts, you might as well get them in Mexico

2. Automobiles (given the overall extent of technological progress, are they really so much better than in 1957?), although the $2500 car may change this

3. Spicy food, it seems best in relatively poor countries

I’m not yet sure about teaching.  It seems to be a candidate but people are learning an awful lot from blogs these days; don’t fixate on delivering the old service the way we always have.

Your picks?  Keep in mind that something has to be stagnant in relative terms, to date it sure isn’t computer chips but they raise the bar for the average.  I expect pharmaceuticals and webcams to make it much easier to care for old people, but only on a per year of life basis; the number of years lived and thus total cost will rise too.


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