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Around the world, there is enormous enthusiasm for the type of technological innovation symbolized by Silicon Valley.There is a puzzle: It is difficult to detect the benefits of this innovation in terms of GDP statistics.Or perhaps this innovation is less significant than its enthusiasts believe.Upon closer inspection, it became clear that most of this innovation involved devising better ways of scamming others, manipulating markets without getting caught (at least for a long time) and exploiting market power.The net social contribution of all of this "innovation" was negative.In a simpler world, where innovation simply meant lowering the cost of production of, say, an automobile, it was easy to assess an innovation's value. But when innovation affects an automobile's quality, the task becomes far more difficult. Still, one cannot avoid the uneasy feeling that, when all is said and done, the contribution of recent technological innovations to long-term growth in living standards may be substantially less than the enthusiasts claim.
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