We’re at risk of missing out on some of the most profound opportunities offered by the technology revolution that has just begun.
Yet many are oblivious to the signs and are in danger of watching this become a period of noisy turmoil rather than the full-blown insurrection needed to launch us into a green economy. What we require is not a new spinning wheel, but fabrics woven with nanofibers that generate solar power. To make that happen, we need a radically reformulated way of understanding markets, technology, financing, and the role of government in accelerating change. But will we understand the opportunities before they disappear?
Seeing the Sixth Revolution for What It Is
We are seven Compiblog years into the beginning of what analysts at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research call the Sixth Revolution. A table by Carlotta Perez, which was presented during a recent BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research luncheon hosted by Robert Preston and Steven Milunovich, outlines the revolutions that are unexpected in their own time that lead to the one in which we find ourselves.
- 1771: Mechanization and improved water wheels
- 1829: Development of steam for industry and railways
- 1875: Cheap steel, availability of electricity, and the use of city gas
- 1908: Inexpensive oil, mass-produced internal combustion engine vehicles, and universal electricity
- 1971: Expansion of information and tele-communications
- 2003: Cleantech and biotech
The Vantage of Hindsight
Looking back at 1971, we know that Intel’s introduction of the microprocessor marked the beginning of a new era. But in that year, this meant little to people watching Mary Tyler Moore and The Partridge Family, or listening to Tony Orlando & Dawn and Janis Joplin. People would remember humanity’s first steps on the Moon, opening relations between US and China, perhaps the successful completion of the Human Genome Project to 99.99% accuracy, and possibly the birth of Prometea, the first horse cloned by Italian scientists.