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Thread: Are we living through historic times?

  1. #1
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    Are we living through historic times?

    I was just on youtube, watching a bit of documentary on punch cards programming, marvelling at how much technology has come along in the past forty years. When I was at school I learned that between 1760 and 1820 there was the industrial revolution in Europe. I have a feeling that in 200 years from now people will say that between 1960 and 2020 there was a worldwide revolution in information and communications technology, which was waaaay more significant. What are you guys thinking?
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  2. #2
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    Re: Are we living through historic times?

    The information revolution is big.
    The industrial revolution was much bigger.

    One took my illiterate, malnourished, short-lived, rural, impoverished ancestors and changed everything about their quality of life.
    The other has changed the way we value, store, and retrieve information...and brought us Twitter, Netflix, and free pornography.
    Last edited by ian-weisser; October 28th, 2013 at 12:22 AM.

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    Re: Are we living through historic times?

    First Wave: Manual Labor
    Second Wave: Industrial Age, steam power, mechanization
    Third Wave: Information Age, computers, the web, and mobile devices
    Fourth Wave: ?
    -------------------------------------
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    Re: Are we living through historic times?

    Well, every time is historic in some way

    But I think very few people understood back in the 1990's how much the internet would change our lives. And it really has; we can belittle it by talking about Facebook and cat photos, but that's like saying the printing press was insignificant because of dime-store novels and tabloids.

    The internet really dropped a bomb on human culture, and I don't think the smoke has cleared nor the dust settled yet.

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    Re: Are we living through historic times?

    Quote Originally Posted by tgalati4 View Post
    First Wave: Manual Labor
    Second Wave: Industrial Age, steam power, mechanization
    Third Wave: Information Age, computers, the web, and mobile devices
    Fourth Wave: ?
    Fourth Wave: Workers replaced by robots.
    Fifth Wave: Workers, now unemployed, go back to being rural starving peasants.
    Sixth Wave: ?

  6. #6
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    Re: Are we living through historic times?

    Quote Originally Posted by ian-weisser View Post
    The information revolution is big.
    The industrial revolution was much bigger.

    One took my illiterate, malnourished, short-lived, rural, impoverished ancestors and changed everything about their quality of life.
    The other has changed the way we value, store, and retrieve information...and brought us Twitter, Netflix, and free pornography.
    The industrial revolution took the stuff people already had, like food and clothing, and made it easier to produce. The information revolution made the free flow of information all over the world possible. Basically everyone has all information available to man at his fingertips. You want to know what happened in Ukraine in the year 2? I have no clue, but you can find out with just a few keystrokes. How awesome is that?

    Quote Originally Posted by coldraven View Post
    Fourth Wave: Workers replaced by robots.
    Fifth Wave: Workers, now unemployed, go back to being rural starving peasants.
    Sixth Wave: ?
    That's what they were afraid of during the industrial revolution also. Machines replacing people, people becoming useless and starving to death. But what really happened is that because the production of food and clothing didn't require as much labor anymore, people had more time to invent, design and produce other cool stuff like cars, phones and tablets. Life only gets more fun when technology replaces human labor.
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    Re: Are we living through historic times?

    Quote Originally Posted by sha1sum View Post
    That's what they were afraid of during the industrial revolution also. Machines replacing people, people becoming useless and starving to death. But what really happened is that because the production of food and clothing didn't require as much labor anymore, people had more time to invent, design and produce other cool stuff like cars, phones and tablets. Life only gets more fun when technology replaces human labor.
    I don't see much evidence for this rosy view myself. I remember growing up in the 1960s when we were told that automation would enable us to become so much more productive that we could reduce the work-week and give people more leisure time. Americans spend as much time working as they did then yet still struggle to make ends meet. I'm especially concerned with the collapse in employment since 2008 as shown dramatically in this graph of employment as a percentage of the total US civilian population: http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/EMRATIO/. Employment grew quickly after every other recession before 2008. It has hardly budged since then.
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    Re: Are we living through historic times?

    Think long term. I don´t think that prosperity is a contiously increasing line; it can go down also. However, I think that people in 1820 had a better standard of life than people in 1620, and that people in 2020 will do much better than people in 1820. And continuing in the same way, I think that the year 2220 will be pretty cool. Because in the end, it has to be humanity that reaps the benefits of human progress.
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    Re: Are we living through historic times?

    Quote Originally Posted by sha1sum View Post
    The industrial revolution took the stuff people already had, like food and clothing[...]
    There should probably be a 'barely' or 'strived for' in there.
    Pre-industrial life, unless you were rich (or very lucky), stank and died young.

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    Re: Are we living through historic times?

    Quote Originally Posted by ian-weisser View Post
    There should probably be a 'barely' or 'strived for' in there.
    Pre-industrial life, unless you were rich (or very lucky), stank and died young.
    Fair enough. I guess I underestimated the impact of the industrial revolution. Viva industry!
    Last edited by sha1sum; October 28th, 2013 at 07:45 PM.
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