I think Tyler Cowen is one of those people who Shiller thinks is out of touch with the "real world." Cohen thinks that advances we have seen since 1962 are small potatoes compared to what happened between 1905 and 1962.
Let's go back to 1959, which is when I started to notice technology in a serious way. My father bought a new car that year - a 1959 Oldsmobile. My father wanted a radio in the car, and seatbelts, and those had to be installed by the dealer. The car came with an automatic transmission, but for us that was a novelty. This car required attention. It quickly developed oil leaks, its tires had to be replaced frequently, and it did not always want to start in the cold weather. Compared to this, the car that is within reach of the average person in the US today is a marvel. It is enormously safer, more efficient, easier to maintain, and with many devices that did not exist in 1959.
How did we communicate in 1959? We had telephones, but they were clunky devices that did not record messages, and required dialing. Long distance calling was something of a luxury, and calling overseas was virtually unheard-of for the average person. We received our news from the television (two broadcast channels) and via newspapers delivered to the door. The post office was very important. Everything was billed my mail, and transactions technologies were primitive. Transactions were all made with cash and checks, and withdrawing cash from the bank or depositing a check required waiting in a line, sometimes for a long time.
For entertainment, we had movies. We had one movie theater in town. If you did not like what was showing, you could stay at home and watch Ed Sullivan. The event of the year was an annual showing of "The Wizard of Oz" on TV. We had records. Of course you had to purchase the physical vinyl and bring it home to play it. Stereo was relatively new. My father bought one, and all the neighbors came over to hear it. Radio was primarily AM.
Was father was an engineer, and the tools he had were quite primitive. He did most of his calculations with a slide rule (three significant digits, four if you had good eyes), but he also had a machine that could do basic arithmetic. The transistor had been invented, but most of my father's electronic equipment used vacuum tubes.
In the town where I lived, we had a couple of department stores in the downtown: a Woolworths and a Five-and-Dime store. Some things we could buy locally, typically in specialty stores, but there was much that we could not find in town. For those things, there was the Eaton's catalog, i.e. mail order.
It's quite possible that Tyler Cowen lives like his grandmother. I know that I don't. While the technological change we have seen since 1959 is sometimes less obvious than the changes wrought by the automobile and electrification, it is no less phenomenal. Particularly notable are advances in information technology, communication, retailing, and biotechnology. I don't have my fingertips on the latest measurements of secular technological change and change in the quality of goods and services, but maybe some readers could provide us with references. However, standard national income accounting tells us that average growth in real per capita GDP in the US was about the same, pre-1962 and post-1962. What is Cowen on about?