The organisers of the latest annual World Economic Forum who charge you $40,000 a ticket and therefore seem to know what they’re talking about have chosen “The Fourth Revolution” as their theme.
I can only make out three Revolutions. The First Revolution involved the mass production of food. The Second Revolution involved the mass production of consumer goods — the status goods that carry around or show off to make others aware of our social standing — as well as the mass services like electricity or sea cruise holidays.
The Third Revolution is little to do with mass prodution but in supplying intensely personal needs which the other two Revolutions either made worse for the most part or neglected altogether. We are talking of a vast explosion of discoveries centering around the carbon atom generally and human DNA in particular.
It will involve custom-made materials and desiderata far superior to those we use at present, but also educational and health care mehods that precisely suit our children and our individual genes. And, on top of that, a far better understanding of what human nature is all about. so we’ll hopefully be better in devising happier and more efficient social organisations.
Revolutions are only such in history books. Massive cultural changes take a century or more at least. We’ll be groping around yet for more than few generations.