ETH, STP

BSTP: Further Industrial Revolution

Technological development occurs in two forms: intensive growth (development of new methods) and extensive growth (improving current methods). At the time (1930) Keynes predicted 15-hour work weeks by 2030, based on the reduced work necessary to reach the same economic productivity. This was based on the intensive growth of the 19th and 20th century.

The Second Industrial Revolution covers roughly from Telephone to Airplane and is mostly driven by the rise of the use of electricity. Culminating in Airplanes.

The scientific and information revolutions moved from the FM Radio to Transistor, the PC, lasers, cell phones and recently the World Wide Web. The combination of mechanical and communication technology led to rapid advancement in “Mobility” which eased the transport for people and goods. Travel by sea, air and land changed rapidly.

The Panama and Suez canals changed the transportation by sea. and reduced average travel times by more than half (e.g. US East to West cost dropped form 21.000km to 8000km). Another factor was ship propulsion in the doldrums. Sail boats would get stranded in those low wind areas. Coal was to heavy to take along, but engines based on liquid fuel could store fuel efficient enough to take it along.

The power to weight ratio in engines doubles every 7 years since the 1950s. It is a similar phenomena as Moore’s law. This underpins the technological drive behind air planes. While the power increased, the noise decreased. However, this is not due to technological interest, but to policy demands of having less noise in cities.

Along with the capability of movement comes the willingness of movement. Human Capital Flight (or “Brain Drain”) is a consequence of the ability to move. The easy access to foreign labour markets drives those movements. It mostly occurs from developing countries to developed countries.

Another consequence is multinational enterprises. There are around 20 companies that are more influential than probably the bottom quarter of countries. Those companies trade among each other independent of nation states in the international vacuum.

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