The last few weeks and months have been an intellectual roller coaster. I have discovered that much the academic training and thinking I have had and done up until now was
a waste. [Caught up in the moment. This was clearly over the top. Lets just say, sub-optimal]
I had thought that by picking economics, I was picking the most important science. This is the science of choice. This is about evaluating what we do with our lives. Every science, every discipline, even the maintenance of a state capable of producing science depends on political economy.
Inside economics I thought I was picking the most important area – poverty and education. Well, in truth I thought the most important area was growth. In particular, how to get the third world growing. But, I was choosing my subfield when China and India were surging. I thought that the problem of third world growth was for practical purposes, likely solved. China and India would become so wealthy that together with Europe we could lift up Africa by brute force if necessary. The global growth future was bright.
So I thought, the problem of the 21st century will be what to do about individuals who are not getting all they could out of the modern global economy. What factors make individual poverty likely? What factors lead to such high poverty clusters? How do we increase individual productivity?
Now I see I was wrong. All of this assumes that we will continue in the same economic paradigm that we have for last 250 years or so. I see that this is much less likely than I would have assumed.
It seems likely that we are on the verge of a new economic paradigm; one defined by much more rapid technological expansion. The new problem is not making sure everyone is plugged in to technology but making sure that the power of the technology itself does not overwhelm us and destroy us.
I know this sounds a bit crazy and if someone had just said it to me like this I would have be inclined to slough it off as well. However, having spent a significant amount of time reading people who have clearly done their homework I am convinced.
What this means for my own intellectual journey, I am not yet sure.