And David Henderson makes the point beautifully with respect to the microwave and several other 19th and 20th century innovations.
One of the things that bugs me most about how Terrence Kealey talks about the economics of science (cited favorably by Peter Boettke here) is that he spends a lot of time on the impact of research and development on GDP. That's not how we expect science to make its impact. We expect technological development to do (at least) two things:
1. Improve the quality of our lives - consumer surplus, and
2. Improve production processes, thus reducing production costs
Neither of these are necessarily going to improve GDP statistics, and they may even lead to a reduction in GDP.
Other points made by Kealey - particularly around the marginal costs associated with adopting other firms' technology - are much stronger than this.
If we are concerned about things like income and employment (which are worthy concerns!) we need to look to macro aggregates like output.
If we are concerned about things like human welfare, GDP is not a great guide. Think in terms of consumer surplus.
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