An Industrial Revolution?
In our minds, we trick ourselves into believing the future never comes. We speak as if the future is a physical thing and when it arrives we will know this thing for its thing-ness. Perhaps it is the anxiety that comes with change; the fear of having to decommission our old ways in favor of the new. But then, how else could we make room for the new if we did not decommission and reinvent the old?
The Second Industrial Revolution has given way to the Third; a future that has very much arrived. It has pulled in to Decentral Station and is awaiting its passengers.
In this case, let’s look at passengers as Nation-States. In 2006 Jeremy Rifkin began working with the leadership of the European Union drafting the economic game plan for the Third Industrial Revolution. Estonia is becoming a nomadic-paradise by instituting an e-visa, foreshadowing the rapid rise of the internet-immigrant. Iceland’s geothermal belly and cool climate have facilitated an explosion of crypto-mining and Litecoin founders have recently purchased roughly 1/10 of a German bank.
The Third Industrial Revolution is built on the back of the end of the fossil fuel era. New forms of energy systems are expanding our ability to communicate and move in economic space.
“The democratization of energy will bring with it a fundamental reordering of human relationships, impacting the very way we conduct business, govern society, educate our children, and engage in civic life.” - Jeremy Rifkin
What this energy, communications and mobility revolution is doing is decompressing power and moving it out laterally. In no uncertain terms, it is taking power that has historically been concentrated within small groups of people and is redistributing it to every single human on earth. The gravity of the opportunity is surreal; a world that has been built around closed, specific and central institutions reorganizing as if by will into institutions that are open, neutral and decentralized.
Opportunity is bolded above because we do need to ask, decentralized for who? If communications and energy become distributed across the developing world but power & influence still remains concentrated, we can't claim decentralization with a straight face. But if we are able to harness lateral power to create, imagine and produce great work that forms a new economic model we will truly be in an industrial overhaul.
A glance around the industrial world reveals it's clues; the era of the central, homogenous classroom is over. The era of the central, homogenous business is over. The era of the central, homogenous community is over. The era of the central, homogenous government is over.
What does that change look like in real-time? How do we operate successfully in a future that really doesn't look anything like the time we're in now?
Come aboard, won’t you?