Throughout history, whenever new technologies have emerged that change our means of production and ability to communicate they have tended to transform society. The rapid technological development of the past century – in biotechnology, information technology, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence – holds the promise to do the same for our current, post-industrial world.
Our political institutions, the rule of law, human rights, the banking system, our education system – and even capitalism itself – are products of the industrial age. We have learnt to navigate the industrial economy as individuals, and as societies we can exert some control to define its shape and limits.
But what comes next, in a post-industrial world? Even in the past decade, digital products and services, the internet and mobile technology have changed our lives. This is the result of accumulated advances over the past 50 years; there is much more to come. For example, recent studies indicate that digitisation is likely to replace about half of known jobs within 20 years.
In the industrial economy, more was better – but now this is not always the case. The developed world is sick from overeating, while greater productivity leads to cheaper goods and greater consumption, which squanders Earth's resources ever faster and fosters a wasteful, consumption-based economy. Instead, a future economy would strive to provide a world of plenty, with virtually no waste.
It is the convergence of cutting-edge biotech, infotech, nanotech, and cogitive-sciences (BINC) that will be at the heart of the living and intelligent technologies of tomorrow
Annual US household income distribution, showing the thriving super-rich and shrinking middle class. vikjam, CC BY-SA3. One world
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