Skip to main content
Economic Perspective

Economic Perspective: The Transformation of Inventions

NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences professor Dr. Mike Walden working in a recording studio.


“Today’s program looks at the transformation of inventions. Mike, inventions are a key factor in advancing our society and standard of living. In the 21st century, has the type of inventions we’re seeing changed?”


“I think it really has. If you look at the 19th and 20th centuries, a lot of the inventions that occurred had to do with moving people more efficiently, that is quicker, to products and services and other people they wanted to visit. So if you look at the railroad, then you look at the automobile, then you look at the airplane. That all had the purpose of moving people better, taking less time to move them to the things they wanted to use or see.”

“In the 21st century I think this has been switched. A lot of the inventions, particularly coming from the computer, have involved moving people and things to us. So for example, look at a library. 40 years ago when I started at NC State if I needed to write a book and do research I had to go to the library and to the stacks and look for books and articles. The last book I wrote I did it all at my desk because I could access all of those materials on my computer. So that computer was bringing books and articles back to me.”

“And we have now remote education, remote working, all both of those are bringing things to people. So I think that’s been a major switch in the type of inventions that we’re seeing. I think the new inventions are allowing people to get more out of life by saving them time.”