I tend to think that accelerated communication technologies (the internet and cell phones) have barely begun to reshape the world to their full extent. We’ve seen highly disruptive business models emerge, and I anticipate further innovation will continue. The internet has changed the political landscape both in the West and the developing world. The drastic reduction in the cost and lag-time of communication is probably the most important force affecting the world right now.
A while back, Robin Hanson posted a link about potential ways for humans to co-ordinate behavior. He makes a strange argument saying that government’s failure to enact certain types of co-ordination he envisions demonstrates that the purpose of government is not to enact co-ordination.
Some of his failed co-ordination examples are strange; he seems to think people would be better off were there fewer genres of music. But for his non-strange ideas, I see them not as strikes against government, but rather, business opportunities. If I identified a type of co-ordination that I thought would create gains, I wouldn’t look to government to enact it; I’d think about building a business to facilitate it.
Co-ordination requires aggregation of knowledge and commitment of behaviors. Government can do both, but the internet can do them better. If Hanson thinks Americans would benefit from moving to warmer climates, but lack the co-ordination to do so, I have a business idea for him. If he wants to see greater incentives for innovation, I have another idea for him. And if Hanson really thinks the path to reduced scarcity of music is to encourage musicians to not diversify or innovative, I could also design that business.