The obstacle to bringing new innovations into the hands of the consumer is not the technology.
In fact, much of the tech products being released today haven’t had any real technological breakthroughs for the last twenty years. Even the latest iPhone is just a new permutation and optimization of technologies developed decades ago.
The bottleneck of innovation lies in the social and economic factors that surround bringing new innovations to the public, and within a capitalist society, it becomes even more challenging.
The power of our businesses, nonprofits, and individuals lies in the exchange of money. Even if businesses are in it for the betterment of the world as a whole, money is still the ultimate underlying foundation of a capitalist driven, “invisible hand” society. In fact, the power of individuals, companies, and nations rests in the money that they have.
So what’s the conflict?
The conflict occurs when a new technology is brought about that will revolutionize everything, to the point where it weakens the ability to generate revenue. By providing access to knowledge to anyone with an internet connection, Wikipedia has essentially created an open, powerful collection of knowledge that has effectively weakened the revenue of traditional encyclopedias, while failing to create a stream of revenue itself. Facebook and Twitter have completely changed the way that people interact socially, while failing to truly create a significant revenue stream.
Capitalism has created a world where businesses strive to optimize revenue, not necessarily innovation. That’s why many of the most powerful and significant changes to our world have been through grassroots movements.
There’s so much more to unpack about the extent of capitalism on our society that I’ll save for later posts.