This is a series of write ups on Jefferey’s excellent article on hype in technology and why it focuses our attention from genuine pressing issues.
He has discussed the sources of hype and then its amplification.
I will focus on the economic analysis, and I encourage the readers to find parallels in healthcare.
Here are the key takeaways from the write up:
- Are there large numbers of similar applications just waiting to be implemented in the future, or only a few niche ones? Computers playing chess seems relevant to just a few niche applications, while successful examples of machine learning through Watson, for example, would be more relevant to the overall field of health care.
- How much of an advantage does the new technology offer? For instance, although ride-sharing services are more convenient to access than taxis, they have the same cost structure and use the same types of vehicles, drivers, and roads—only the algorithms and phones are different.
- Cheaper phones have meant more people can access ride-sharing services, but they don’t increase the productivity of cars, drivers, or roads, nor will they solve the congestion problem, unless dramatically different services are implemented.
- When proponents are touting the benefits of a new technology, decision-makers must challenge them to make these types of comparisons. Unfortunately, few decision-makers have the expertise to challenge proponents, reflecting in part at least the fact that university training in economics, business, and engineering almost never includes serious exposure to the economics of innovation and new technologies.
- For any hyped technology, one should try to understand the impact of scale, the potential for new product and process designs, and their likely impact on cost and performance.