Email of the day 1
Comment of the Day

January 06 2015

Commentary by David Fuller

Email of the day 1

On the third industrial revolution:

“I fully agree with your sense that the Third Industrial Revolution has a long way to run. I give presentations on this topic around the world. Analysis of the 1st and 2nd Industrial Revolutions shows they spanned 3-5 decades and involved not only a new communication system but new financial systems and new energy sources too. The 1st Industrial Revolution from 1780-1830 involved synergy between the new energy source (coal), the new communication system (coal-powered printing presses leading to mass newspapers and mass education for the first time ever, and the new financial system (the London stock market. The 2nd Industrial Revolution from 1880-1920 was driven by oil then electricity as the new power sources, the telegraph then telephone as the new communication system, and the Limited liability company as the financial breakthrough. Our present-day 3rd Industrial Revolution began with the Internet in the mid-1990s, and that part is progressing nicely. But the new energy source (solar) is only just getting going, and we await a new financial system! When all three are in place and well-developed decades from now the world will be a very different place. Though I doubt the economics profession will have progressed quite so much!”

David Fuller's view

Thanks for your informative email on a favourite subject, and your droll concluding sentence was also appreciated. 

Perhaps I lack imagination (or have too much of it) or hope to see too much more in my lifetime, but I think this ‘Industrial Revolution’, which I refer to as a visibly accelerating rate of technological innovation, has no natural end.  It includes the internet of everything, achieved with miniaturisation, plus new manmade resources such as graphene which will vastly improve the efficiency of many products, from solar energy panels to infrastructure construction.  I believe that within the lifetime of middle-aged people we will also see new nuclear in various different forms and possibly also the holy grail of commercial nuclear fusion.  I also think we are only approaching the foothills of what will be an accelerating rate of development in artificial intelligence. Sentimentally, I hope that Stephen Hawking’s recent prediction on AI does not come true, although his conclusion was certainly logical. 

Lastly, I hope those of us in the London area and attending Markets Now on 12th January (see below) will question speakers’ views, not least Charles Elliott on his choices for performance among technology shares.      

Back to top

You need to be logged in to comment.

New members registration