In another excellent book review by billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, Gates the tech evangelist and great believer in innovation's power takes a stand for optimism. Considering Robert J. Gordon's controversial, deeply researched The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Gates praises Gordon's scholarship and insight before making his case against Gordon's concluding pessimism. Whereas Gordon argues that "American growth can never be what it was between 1870 and 1970" Gates simply says "I couldn't disagree more."
Gates believes that myriad as-yet-unknown benefits of the digital revolution are still too difficult to measure -- and that their impact will be transforming, both economically and culturally, in ways that can't be captured using current benchmarks like GDP and productivity. As an example of how people's lives can become better without improvement necessarily being reflected in GDP, Gates cites a potential cure for Alzheimer's, saying a sea change like that "will be anything but marginal" in terms of standard of living. Gates writes:
"[Alsheimer's] costs the U.S. $236 billion per year, mostly to Medicare and Medicaid. A cure would immediately alter the budget of every state in the country, not to mention millions of lives."
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