21C to be greatest century in history

According to Ian King, banyanhill.com, we were promised flying cars by now but got Facebooknot to mention Google, Twitter and Skype

He admits Facebook has its uses but the utopian future expected has yet to arrive – all these new technologies have not yet led to widespread prosperity

In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted we would be working 15-hour weeks around now – the impact of the Industrial Revolution led to a sharp decline in average weekly hours – new machinery powered by technologies such as electricity and the internal combustion engine allowed workers to produce more with less human input

Weekly U.S. Manufacturing Hours 1940-2010

Keynes expected this trend to continue with the rise of new technologies – however, the last 50-plus years have bucked that trend – the steady decline of weekly hours flat-lined during the Great Depression and has continued to do so ever since

Despite recent technological innovations, workforce productivity hasn’t rapidly improved yet their productivity determines the average standard of living, including their work hours input

Indeed, in the last 100 years, there has been only one big wave of productivity improvement and that occurred in the first half of the 20th century – it had taken a few decades before the breakthroughs of the Industrial Revolution translated into major productivity improvement:

  • The first automobile patent was awarded to Karl Benz in 1886, but it was decades before Henry Ford mass-produced the Model T
  • Thomas Edison produced the first light bulb in 1879, yet 50 years later only half the homes in the United States had electricity
  • Both thus started slowly at first, but then suddenly became part of everyday life, ushering in many other developments like the dishwasher and washing machine which freed us from the toils of home labour

Now, we are about to hit a tipping point with the Information Technology Revolution:

  • The internet has followed a similar trajectory as electricity
  • It’s been around for three decades
  • It’s only been used to search a giant database
  • That’s about to change

Within the next decade, nearly everyone on planet Earth will have internet access, putting the world’s information in the palms of their hands

Billions of devices will collect and transmit the world’s information over high-speed 5G networks, launching new disruptive trends into the 21st century viz:

  • Blockchains will create new financial networks, as users can own something of digital value that can no longer be duplicated
  • Robo-taxis will use artificial intelligence to shuttle kids safely to soccer practice
  • Robo-trucks will ship goods cheaply around the country, bringing manufacturing back
  • City traffic, congestion and parking will become a thing of the past
  • The world’s best surgeons will be robots
  • (And the above are just some of the tangible benefits possible – there’s a host of more valuable mental benefits in the offing)

King concludes: “It will be like the Roaring ’20s again — a decade of increased productivity and prosperity”

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