By Mason Mohon | USA
The last decade or so has blessed the human race with technological innovations like we have never seen before. Apple celebrated the 10th anniversary of its iPhone with the release of the new iPhone X. Silicon Valley geniuses are constantly trying to come up with the next big thing and trying to get their tech on the market and widely used. A new vehicle model with new driving features seems to be releasing every year, and it is impossible to keep up. All of this innovation is pushing us to be able to do more than ever before, with technology allowing U.S. companies to outsource online jobs to India, where they can be done more efficiently and cheaper. Few would argue that this innovation is a bad thing, but are we stifling it? Are we at our fullest potential?
A basic rule of free-market economics is that consumer demand must be served. An entrepreneur or business firm cannot and will not continue to exist if it does not serve the needs of the consumer. If a business begins to provide a good or service that the consumers don’t want, said business will begin to lose resources and will cease to gain profits. If a business wants profit, it has to test the market and find out what a substantial amount of people actually want to have. That is one of the beautiful things about the free market. Demand of the consumers is met, and that is the only way any producer of anything can hope to make money. The people have needs and wants and they are met by the market. But what if these consumers want to work against innovation? What if the majority of consumers didn’t want or didn’t care for new technologies?
Let us say that most consumers do not see the potential a product has for them or for the world as a whole. They do not see the innovation, and a game-changing piece of technology ends up flopping. That would really suck, for we would miss out on a new technology. Is this a fatal flaw in the system? Could the consumers (who make up humanity) be holding back humanity?
We would have to look at what the problem in this situation is, though. If this issue would arise (or is arising), it is not a problem at all, but rather an opportunity. This is an opportunity for new technological innovators to show how they are changing the game. It is a problem of information arising, and the consumers need more information. A well-placed ad campaign and a good partnership could remedy the problem in no time. Chances are that the market would solve something like this, but only if it pushed hard enough.
An example would be the comparison between Samsung and Apple phone products. For a long time, my Samsung owning friends have joked with how primitive I was owning an iPhone, for Samsungs tended to be better on nearly every front. They were the better, stronger, more durable, and more innovative technology, but regardless, many stick with iPhones. It was recently discovered that Apple intentionally slows down old models of its phones when a new model comes out. When the iPhone X was released, very noticeable bugs came in the new operating system on my 6S plus. Samsung has not shown to be doing anything like this, which just adds a cherry on top for their technological superiority. Now, Samsung has an opportunity to make this issue with iPhones as big as they possibly can. People are staying with Apple iPhones for various reasons, but no informed person is staying with them because they are better. Here’s the chance Samsung! Now take it!
What would the alternative be, anyway? Should we put government bureaucrats in charge of allocating money to what is innovative? Should there be a federal agency to promote human development? No, because in short, government agencies usually suck at their jobs. The state should not be in charge of deciding what technology is worth promoting and what is not. The consumers and the market do a great job of sorting all of that kind of stuff out, as the above paragraph indicated. The state should not tell people that Samsung is better and promote Samsung, whether it be through regulations or subsidies. Any sensible person should be able to see that this should be the case.
It actually turns out that the state is the enemy of innovation. State taxes on big companies and corporations mean they have a lot less money to put into new technologies and serving the consumers more. Regulations make it hard to create new products and tariffs cause resources to become more expensive. Taxes in any part of the economy, whether it be capital gains, corporate, or income, tend to make people more present-oriented. This decreases foresight and causes people to care less about the future, making fewer long-term investments. This means that people will be less focused on the future and more focused on the present. This means fewer people oriented towards tomorrow, looking to change the world with the next big tech boost.
Humanity is getting better and better at creating new things each and every year. What we want to avoid is throttling that, and we want to make sure we can keep this growth going for the long haul. The way the free market is set up – to serve consumers – is not an impediment for this, even though it may sometimes seem like it. Rather, the government is the ultimate danger to human growth and flourishing. Once its barriers are taken back, we can see humanity reach new never before imagined heights.