Is Another Industrial Revolution Upon Us?


Sure, sure, historians still debate whether the term ‘revolution’ is a misnomer since the first industrial revolution began in the 1700s and sort of merged into the second industrial revolution in the mid-1800s. Revolution is apt when a new way of doing things completely replaces an old way. However, the changes in agricultural techniques, technology, and industrial organisation happened so slowly it was hardly a revolution in the traditional sense of change occurring rapidly.

The Economist suggests we are in the throes of another period of sweeping change:

“A third great wave of invention and economic disruption, set off by advances in computing and information and communication technology in the late 20th century, promises to deliver a similar mixture of social stress and economic transformation. It is driven by a handful of technologies – including machine intelligence, the ubiquitous web and advanced robotics – capable of delivering many remarkable innovations: unmanned vehicles; pilotless drones; machines that can instantly translate hundreds of languages; mobile technology that eliminates the distance between doctor and patient, teacher, and student.”

Industrial revolutions have been characterised by painful change; although, they created broad swatches of economic opportunity. While this revolution eventually may bring incredible improvements and open new economic opportunities across all levels of global societies, currently, it is “opening up a great divide between a skilled and wealthy few and the rest of society.”