There is another interesting debate over whether the western world has run out of major innovations and are now going to be on a steady decline. Robert Gordan has been making this argument for a while. Ofcourse, there are people who disagree and say innovation likely to continue and generate future growth. Here are the debates — one, two, three.
Coming to the title of the post. Prof Gordon often asks this question which innovation do you value most – A toilet with piped water or a smartphone?
Are all of mankind’s best inventions behind us?
Economist Robert Gordon thinks so. When giving speeches, the Northwestern University professor often flashes a photo of a smartphone and a toilet on a screen and asks his audience what they would do if they had only two options: Keep everything invented up until 2002, or keep everything invented up until today—but give up running water and toilets. The answer to him is obvious: Indoor plumbing changed how people live, he says, smartphones are just a handier form of what already exists.
Which would you choose?
The answer here most likely (atleast for me) is toilets. Here there is a case of lack of supply as well. Much of India does not have toilets but phones have become too common.
But the same post takes a poll but frames the question differently:
Which invention of the past would you rather live without?
Here the choice is smartphones not toilets. But unknowingly you end up ticking on toilets!
Importance of framing the questions and nudging people into making choices.