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THE KONDRATIEV WAVE AND FUTURE SOCIETY

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By Neil Pit

The diagram I have chosen for this article (above) shows the KondratievWave Principle. It shows how breakthroughs in technology have created successive periods of economic/technological history. Each watershed discovery is followed by a period of economic growth created by the use we have found for the products we can make out of it. Then, a period of recession, as the market becomes saturated with them and they no longer generate the same level of economic growth.This is then followed by a period of depression before a new breakthrough emerges to move the situation forwardagain.

This is the cycle which the global economy has followed since before the Industrial Revolution. However, concern for most people is really the society we can make out of the technology we possess. That is, politics aside, the difference each breakthrough makes to each of our lives. The current point we are at in the wave cycle is Information Technology, so how is this changing the world? What improvements can we expect to see and what are we going to be able to do differently?People are able to communicate for free and send documents anywhere in the world, mobile phone technology has made it easier to co-ordinate businesses and personal lives.

But, where is it all going? It seems that automation would be the next logical step. Yet, it seems less threatening than the industrial revolution itself, which brought two world wars in its wake. For a start, it seems that progress is a case of the way previous technologies have combined to produce something new. It could even be said that the age of I.T. has been heading into decline since the early 2000s, as the practical use we have been able to find for its products has diminished in relation to the change they are creating. While, at the start, everybody wanted to be able to surf the Internet on a mobile device, not many people really know the difference between an iPhone 6 and 7. It just seems to be another version of exactly the same thing. So, the question is, “what change do we want to occur next?”Driverless cars could now be added to paperless offices, perhaps? Could we imagine whole automated cities, with no need for a large workforce, though? They would still need workers for factories, steelworks, building sites, all the things the public still needs. But, in the city centres, we could see a world which simply works automatically for the super-rich. A world which everyone else aspires to get into.

However, if you have worked hard building a company, you need a break. The world works fast and every tiny inconvenience can seem like a huge mountain to climb. Everything needs to be functioning exactly on time, the taste of the coffee just right.So, what change people want is for things to happen faster, so we make progress quicker, but this fact is actually driving up the cost of management, because to organise this becomes more difficult.The problem is really the speed at which things are happening at already, to co-ordinate this takes some time and effort. But, it also creates a world where bosses can set their own prices for their own labour. Not everyone can actually run a company, they don’t know the paperwork, many people could not even estimate what the job might involve. However, you can work your way up there, the only problem with that is you must be the person who is continually getting a promotion. Running your own business makes you even less likely to give someone else a break when you reach a point you can retire at.

Changing technology, though, changes the business environment in terms of where companies can expand into. The relationship between Europe and Asia is now more economic than political. More about the activities of people in everyday life than the great plans of the leaders. So, what about the future of society? Things look destined now to keep going the way that they are. The super-rich are happy with all the money. Most people are just trying to make a living. The political system is powerful enough to be able to find a million people to nod and say, yes – they like things the way they are. But, under the surface, we are heading into depression. What comes out of it would appear to depend on the direction of long term trends in technology.

So, once again, people would like to see a way out of it, into the future. But, once again, we have to wait for the ‘big man’ in charge, to announce what the plans are. It will, however, this time depend on accountable methods, ones which are carefully deduced from economic forecasts and cash flows. The influence of Trump grows in terms of our philosophy and pragmatism seems set to govern our attitude towards the next period of history, which is spread out across such a wide range of corporations as to make it feel as if there is no real plan. Or, was that the plan and we are now living in the world they created for us. Nobody complains and nothing will go wrong. Everybody has the incentive to work so what can be the problem? Everything is painted gold around the leaders so they cannot see that something might be wrong somewhere and, definitely, they will be so full of optimism and that nothing will shake the confidence of everyone around them. Self-reflection may be lacking in some areas, but not the ones which concern them – the important thing is that whatever they are overseeing continues to be successful.

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