The new age

According to me, we now are living at the end of a very important age in the history of mankind, the age of dis-covering. Not only all mountains and rivers, nearly all species of animals and plants, but also nearly all scientific facts now are mapped, even the smallest facts.

It is true that we do not yet understand all facts, in particular the most essential facts, but that is a different story. When it concerns understanding, then we are talking of qualitative growth of knowledge (seeing the relations between the many facts), and that growth maybe never comes to an end. But the quantitative growth of knowledge (discovering new facts) nearly is over. And if your son or daughter wants to become a new Columbus, Marconi or Newton, well I would dissuade him or her from that.

Next centuries therefore will have a totally different character than the just finished 20th century. Because in the year 1900 there still was very much left to be discovered, and every new technological discovery (the steam-engine, the car, the radio and tv, the computer et cetera) resulted in a growth of the economy. And that is why we never experienced such an enormous economic growth than in the last century.
In the future however, and even now already, growth will more and more be a qualitative growth. New products will come on the market, but these new products then nearly always will replace old products, like the cd replaced the lp and like the pc replaced the typewriter. That also will apply to for example bio-technology. New bio-technological products then will replace products now made in a traditional way.

So I think that we no longer can expect a further economic growth in future. On the contrary, because we will be able to produce more and more with less and less energy, material and labour. And the poor countries will more and more be able to produce their products themselves.
I therefore expect a shrink in the Western economy in the near future, and I even think that we are already experiencing this shrink.

In the future we will focus on quality, on well-being rather than prosperity.

Jan Helderman


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