January 30, 2012

...AND CHEAPER...:

The Coming Tech-led Boom: Three breakthroughs are poised to transform this century as much as telephony and electricity did the last. (MARK P. MILLS AND JULIO M. OTTINO, 1/30/12, WSJ)

In January 2012, we sit again on the cusp of three grand technological transformations with the potential to rival that of the past century. All find their epicenters in America: big data, smart manufacturing and the wireless revolution.

Information technology has entered a big-data era. Processing power and data storage are virtually free. A hand-held device, the iPhone, has computing power that shames the 1970s-era IBM mainframe. The Internet is evolving into the "cloud"--a network of thousands of data centers any one of which makes a 1990 supercomputer look antediluvian. From social media to medical revolutions anchored in metadata analyses, wherein astronomical feats of data crunching enable heretofore unimaginable services and businesses, we are on the cusp of unimaginable new markets.

The second transformation? Smart manufacturing. This is the first structural shift since Henry Ford launched the economic power of "mass production." While we see evidence already in automation and information systems applied to supply-chain management, we are just entering an era where the very fabrication of physical things is revolutionized by emerging materials science. Engineers will soon design and build from the molecular level, optimizing features and even creating new materials, radically improving quality and reducing waste. [...]

Finally, there is the unfolding communications revolution where soon most humans on the planet will be connected wirelessly. Never before have a billion people--soon billions more--been able to communicate, socialize and trade in real time.

The implications of the radical collapse in the cost of wireless connectivity are as big as those following the dawn of telegraphy/telephony. Coupled with the cloud, the wireless world provides cheap connectivity, information and processing power to nearly everyone, everywhere. This introduces both rapid change--e.g., the Arab Spring--and great opportunity. Again, both the launch and epicenter of this technology reside in America.

The forces of structural deflation are overwhelming.
Posted by at January 30, 2012 7:05 AM
  

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