There is an association between technology in the past and wealth today. William Easterly explores the implications of that in Reinventing the Wheel:
If there’s anything that “must be done” to spur future development, it’s to create the conditions necessary to empower the ordinary individuals who will create new and unforeseen technologies out of old ones. There’s a Thomas Edison born every minute. We just have to help them turn the lights on
That’s the conundrum. Governments grow larger and more sophisticated yet they may cast a blanket over what creates the wealth of the society they govern if they are not careful. Innovation is a bottom up phenomena and needs just the right conditions to flourish – and it does so in its own way, not that of any social planner.