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It would be interesting to compare the container growth chart with the world GDP. It seems that they will grow together until the economy starts increasingly​ to move to virtual reality and off world

Kartik Gada


Yes, that is true. One could contend that the shipping container was just a continuation of an exponential trend that was already underway, but all ATOM disruptions are to varying degrees. The variability is in who benefits, who loses, and which technologies emerge as secondary and tertiary byproducts.

As far as virtual items becoming larger portions of GDP (as well as robotics and cheap natural gas reshoring production to high-wage countries), that could prove that the shipping container era was just another leg of the relay race (like Moore's Law is for computing - computing was rising exponentially before semiconductors, and will after semiconductors).


Thanks for the hat tip. Most people like to view the world as simply "computers deflate the cost of X." Not realizing that many things have also been deflating the cost of computers.

Computers were used to make shipping boxes cheaper.
Shipping boxes were used to make computers cheaper.
An endless self improvement loop. And naturally reduced shipping costs have led to the price of many additional items being deflated. Just as a side benefit of the cost reduction loop between shipping containers and computers, we also got trillions of $ in savings across entire industries.

Kartik Gada


Plus, this has not stopped. Even though lower energy prices and automation will move some manufacturing back to high-wage countries, the sheer volume of goods is still high. BEst of all, this enables every new technology to diffuse to the first 1 billion users ever faster than before.

Many countries are yet to integrate into the shipping container ecosystem to a significant degree.

Joe T.

Should we expect shipping systems to shift to smaller, peer-handled packages, analogous to communications networks moving from virtual circuits to packet switching?

Kartik Gada

Joe T,

Good question. I don't think the size of containers will change in the foreseeable future, due to a) the cost of the retrofit, and b) the volume of shipped goods not going down..

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