Jul 09, 2018
Written by: Tom Klaers, Clean Response
This article was written in June 2018 for the 2018 Quarter Three Newsletter.
We are in the midst of a technology revolution that is changing the world at an astonishing rate. A technological revolution is a period in time when current technologies are replaced by better or more efficient technologies, and is characterized by new innovations and applications. Single technological changes happen all the time, while technological revolutions require many new technologies are adopted at the same time, and they are usually interconnected. Technological revolutions have had dramatic effects on human lives many times and always create wealth.
The financial and agricultural revolution (1600-1740) started in England, and helped England become a world power. It brought new farming techniques and improved livestock breeding that increased the food supply, improved human health, and spiked population growth. The financial revolution happened about the same time and economic and financial reforms led to new financial institutions, government bonds, corporate stocks, and a stock market. It improved financial stability, opportunities, and along with the agricultural revolution, led to economic growth.
The industrial revolution (1780-1840) also started in England and changed manufacturing and travel forever. Before the industrial revolution, manufacturing was typically done at people's homes, using hand tools and simple machines. The steam engine was the most important invention of the industrial revolution because it could power trains and factories. Thus manufacturing was done in powered factories using special purpose machinery and mass production. The industrial revolution was driven by coal, iron, and textiles. It created jobs that brought people from the farms to the cities, transported goods and people farther and faster, and created wealth.
The technical revolution or second industrial revolution (1870-1920), was a period of rapid industrialization. The technical revolution was driven by electricity, chemicals, and petroleum, and all the things that could be made and consumed using these. People continued to migrate from farms to cities to fill the jobs created, quality of life improved, and economies grew.
The scientific/technical revolution (1940-1970) is also referred to as the digital revolution. This was a relatively short period of time, when mechanical and analog electronic technology was replaced by digital technology, and it marked the beginning of the information age. The key to this revolution was the mass production and use of digital logic circuits, which led to computers, digital cellular phones, and the internet. These advances in digital information storage. computing, and communication once again improved quality of life for people and created wealth.
We are now in the Information and Telecommunications revolution, or Information Age (1975-present), and features of the Information Revolution are growing economic, social, and technological role of information. Information-related activities did not arise with the Information Revolution. They existed, in one form or the other, in all human societies, and eventually developed into institutions. During the Information Revolution, improvements from previous revolutions are experiencing continuous growth, while other information-oriented activities are emerging. Information is so available that people can build on the work of others, and ideas for improving existing technologies, or creating new technologies happen more rapidly. This leads to greater efficiencies, improved quality of life, and the creation of wealth.
So what's next? After 2000 there became popular the idea that a sequence of technological revolutions is not over and in the near future we will witness the dawn of a new universal technological revolution. The main innovations should develop in the fields of nanotechnologies, alternative fuel and energy systems, biotechnologies, genetic engineering, new materials technologies, computer science, space science, and more. Rapid advances in these fields may be closer than we thing and they will lead to changes in our careers, relationships, and how we live.
Advances in robotics and artificial intelligence will change industries and could do away with labor shortages. By 2030, the researchers estimate the demand for office support workers in the U.S. will drop by 20 percent. That includes secretaries, paralegals, and anyone in charge of administrative tasks. During the same period, the need for people doing "predictable physical work" - construction equipment installation and repair, card dealing, security guarding, dish washing and food preparation, for example - will fall by 30 percent. Other jobs likely to experience big drops are cashiers, drivers of all kinds, and the fast food and retail industries. Career fields least likely to be affected are health care, counseling, sports coaching, hairstylists and cosmetologists, songwriters, and social workers.
Technology revolutions will continue at an accelerating rate and like previous technology revolutions, they will eliminate some jobs and create many more jobs. People will have to learn skills to fill positions in new career fields. More wealth will be created in the process, hopefully leading to better quality of life for all of us.