What are positive and negative economic impacts related to lasers? Include money generated, money spent, jobs created/lost and statistics if available.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The economic impacts of lasers are generally positive.  There only very few negative impacts of this technology.

Lasers have opened up many new sorts of economic activities.  They have made it possible to produce various new goods and services that were not available before the invention of lasers.  For example, before lasers, there were no compact discs (CDs) or digital versatile discs (DVDs).  As another example, there was no possibility of doing eye surgery such as LASIK.  Lasers are also being used today in systems that allow cars to detect obstacles and automatically brake to prevent collisions.  Because all of these new goods and services have become available due to the invention of lasers, lasers have generated spending and jobs.  People could not previously spend money to have LASIK surgery done on their eyes.  They could not pay extra to get cars with the laser safety technologies.  At the same time, no one was being paid to produce these things.  There were no workers being paid to make DVDs.  There were no doctors being paid to do LASIK surgery.  All of these things (and many more) are examples of spending and jobs being generated by lasers.

Of course, in a market economy, inventions can also have negative economic consequences for some people.  With the invention of CDs, people who had jobs making cassette tapes, records, and players for those sorts of media lost their jobs.  When LASIK became common, there was less of a need for glasses as people got surgery to correct their vision.  The laser safety systems presumably reduce the demand for workers in body shops to fix the results of fender benders.  All of these things can be seen as negative impacts of lasers. 

For the most part, then, lasers have had positive economic impacts because they have made a variety of new goods and services available.

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