The most innovative times?

Date posted: May 19, 2014

We’ve seen many changes in everyday living during the past two decades, with computers, the Internet and smart phones, says host Mary Walden. And more changes appear to be coming in information technology, robotics and even driverless cars. She asks her husband, NC State economist Dr. Mike Walden, “Have we ever seen so much dramatic change before in our history?”

Mike Walden, “And Mary, as I interact with young people, so called Millennials, I think they have that attitude of ‘wow, this is just the most dynamic time.’ And I think you could actually make an argument for the 1920s and 1930s actually being more dynamic.  And if you think about what came on the scene for the average person during those 2 decades, we had electricity being expanded across the country. We had the automobile and the tractor becoming more widely owned. We had the radio, and we had penicillin.  All these things caused wide-spread change. I mean, let’s just look at electricity. This was a big, big game changer, not only in terms of allowing people to light their homes, but in terms of allowing for other kinds of household appliances to come on the scene.  Things like the refrigerator, washers for washing clothes, mixers for mixing food. All those things obviously depended upon electricity. Obviously the automobile transformed how people moved around. It reduced the cost of distance. And we should not forget the tractor: The tractor dramatically increased farm productivity, and as a result we didn’t need as many folks working on the farm. That began the big movement of people off the farm into cities. Penicillin was perhaps the single most important development in medicine of all times. So, yes, we certainly are living in very interesting, dynamic times, but I think you can make a strong case that our grandparents actually lived during those times in the 20s and 30s.”

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