|History of technology|
A technological revolution is a period in which one or more technologies is replaced by another novel technology in a short amount of time. It is an era of accelerated technological progress characterized by innovations whose rapid application and diffusion typically cause an abrupt change in society.
A technological revolution generally increases productivity and efficiency. It may involve material or ideological changes caused by the introduction of a device or system. Some examples of its potential impact are business management, education, social interactions, finance and research methodology; it is not limited strictly to technical aspects. A technological revolution significantly changes the material conditions of human existence and can reshape culture. It can play a role as a trigger of a chain of various and unpredictable changes.
What distinguishes a technological revolution from a random collection of technology systems and justifies conceptualizing it as a revolution are two basic features:
1. The strong interconnectedness and interdependence of the participating systems in their technologies and markets.
2. The capacity to transform profoundly the rest of the economy (and eventually society).
The consequences of a technological revolution are not necessarily positive. For example, innovations, such as the use of coal as an energy source, can have negative environmental impact and cause technological unemployment. Joseph Schumpeter described this contradictory nature of technological revolution, creative destruction. The concept of technological revolution is based on the idea that technological progress is not linear but undulatory. Technological revolution can be
The concept of universal technological revolutions is a key factor in the Neo-Schumpeterian theory of long economic waves/cycles (Carlota Perez, Tessaleno Devezas, Daniel Šmihula and others).
The most well-known examples of a technological revolutions were the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, the scientific-technical revolution about 1950–1960, the Neolithic Revolution, and the Digital Revolution. It is not easy to define which technological revolutions have been crucial and influenced not only one segment of human activity, but had a universal impact. One universal technological revolution may be composed of several sectoral technological revolutions (in science, industry, transport and the like).
There are several universal technological revolutions which occurred during the modern era in Western culture:
Attempts to find comparable periods of well defined technological revolutions in the pre-modern era are highly speculative. Probably one of the most systematic attempts to suggest a timeline of technological revolutions in pre-modern Europe was done by Daniel Šmihula:
Each revolution comprises the following engines for growth:
Every revolution utilizes something that is cheap. For instance, the Industrial Revolution had cheap coal for iron steam engines which led to production of Iron railways. The same applied in the technological revolution where there was cheap microelectronics for computers which thus progressed the internet. A combination of low-cost input and new infrastructures are at the core of each revolution to achieve their all pervasive impact.
Further information: Emerging technologies and Fourth Industrial Revolution
After 2000, a popular idea arose, that a sequence of technological revolutions is not over and in the forthcoming future the world 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 and so on .
The Second Machine Age is the term adopted in a 2014 book by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. The industrial development plan of Germany began promoting the term Industry 4.0. In 2019, at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Japan promoted another round of advancements called Society 5.0.
The phrase Fourth Industrial Revolution was first introduced by Klaus Schwab, the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, in a 2015 article in Foreign Affairs, "Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution" was the theme of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. On October 10, 2016, the Forum announced the opening of its Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco. This was also subject and title of Schwab's 2016 book. Schwab includes in this fourth era technologies that combine hardware, software, and biology (cyber-physical systems), and emphasizes advances in communication and connectivity. Schwab expects this era to be marked by breakthroughs in emerging technologies in fields such as robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, the internet of things, the industrial internet of things (IIoT), decentralized consensus, fifth-generation wireless technologies (5G), 3D printing and fully autonomous vehicles.
Jeremy Rifkin includes technologies like 5G, autonomous vehicles, Internet of Things, and renewable energy in the Third Industrial Revolution.
An emerging group of economists do not think that technological growth will continue to the same degree it has in the past. Robert J. Gordon holds the view that today’s inventions are simply not as radical as electricity and the internal combustion engine were. He believes that modern technology is not as innovative as others claim, and is far from creating a revolution.
Digital technologies [...] are not new, but in a break with the third industrial revolution, they are becoming more sophisticated and integrated and are, as a result, transforming societies and the global economy.
The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.