New Economy, New Rules

Changing Times

⇒   The pace of change over the past half century has been faster than at any time in the history of humanity.

Fossil evidence suggests that humans have been on this planet for over 100,000 years.  For most of that time, a person could live their entire life and never see a single major change in the way life was lived in their society.

New innovations came slow.  I’m talking about social as well as technological innovations.  The discovery of fire, the invention of the wheel, the introduction of art to society, the development of agriculture and domestication of plants and animals –  these huge innovations didn’t happen in the same decade, they didn’t even happen in the same century.  They happened thousands, even tens of thousands of years apart.  Progress, as we know it was painfully slow and tedious.

It wasn’t until the last several thousand of years that we really started going.  What it took was the invention and spread of written language.  And so, for the first time, people were able to share ideas over great distances and even over time.  Now, ideas had a new way of spreading, and incrementally, with the occasional setback along the way (e.g. the fall of the Roman Empire), civilization proceeded forward.

The next big innovation that accelerated change in society was the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the 13th century.  This was like a turbo boost for the written language.  Now, not only can we share information over distance and time, we can disseminate information to many readers.   This shot in the arm hastened the Renaissance, was a catalyst for the later scientific revolution and made possible mass literacy that would eventually come.


For a few hundred more years, progress continued at an accelerated pace.  In a normal life time, a person might notice some major changes in society.  But nothing like the changes to come.  The first industrial revolution came to England with innovations in the textile industry and the introduction of steam power.


The second industrial revolution came along near the end of the 19th century and once again, the pace of change got a big boost.

People started to move into the

cities as the economy in much of the western world changed drastically over a period of just a few decades.

New Economy, New Rules

With this new economy, came new rules.  The skills needed to get by in an agricultural economy were no longer useful.  There were a great many new jobs available

for unskilled workers in the cities.  At the same time, agricultural practices were changing rapidly, making farming and ranching increasingly competitive and difficult for the smaller operator to keep up.


Most recently, we have been going though what some call the third industrial revolution.  You may know it as the digital revolution or the information age.  Whatever you call it, it began in the second half of the twentieth century with the invention of the microchip.

Winners & Losers

During each of these periods of change, there were winners and losers.  When the speed of change accelerated, there were some who were unprepared.  Through no fault of their own, they didn’t have the skills, the insight, or the opportunity to take advantage of the changes that were to come.

But some – really only a few – they were ready for the changes; they saw the opportunities in front of them that others were blind to.

Now, the speed of change is accelerating at an exponential rate!  And there’s not much that anybody can do about it.

There are some who believe that we are entering the fourth industrial revolution.

“The First Industrial Revolution used steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres” – Professor Klaus Schwab

Like each of the previous leaps forward, this new economy will have new rules.  There will be winners and losers.

Which one will you be?

In the next post, I’ll discuss some of the various aspects of the fourth industrial revolution, and what they might mean for those of us who will have to live and work in this new, ever-changing world.

What do you think will be the biggest changes in the next five years?  The next ten? The next twenty?






10 Replies to “New Economy, New Rules”

  1. What a Captivating Blog. One big this coming. And what is it?

    I followed you to the next page because I wanted to know the fourth great industrial revolution. We have come a long way, Some people fell by because they where not keeping pace. We are being caught up in the middle of a n industrial revolution. Don’t be left out. There are great articles there..

  2. You are so right. Everything in the world has changed so dramatically over the past 100 years or so. It’s changes so fast it’s very hard to keep up sometimes. It can seem scary, but also exciting at the same time.

    Very interesting article you have written here. Where do you the world will be as a whole 100 years from now?

    1. I agree; it’s scary but exciting at the same time.

      I don’t know if I can imagine the world in 100 years. I think of my great-grandmother who died when I was quite young. She was a young adult 100 years ago. I doubt that she could have imagined self driving cars or computers in our pockets.

  3. Just thought I’d mention that I got the main idea for this post from Thomas Friedman’s new book. Like all of his books it’s a great read. Another other major source for this and other posts on this site is the book by Klaus Schwab,”The Fourth Industrial Revolution”

  4. Thank you for your refresher on history of mankind and the world. I remember reading a lot of this from Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad. This idea that we are still spreading ideas of the industrial age into the information age is quite appalling.

    I’m surprised that most people that study history, be it U.S. or world, never learn from the mistakes of their ancestors or the great civilizations that came before it.

    I recently just started doing affiliate marketing and have been self aware for the past two years that jobs are a very dangerous thing to have particularly if it can be outsourced or rendered useless by technology and innovation. Taxis to Uber, hotels to Airbnb, movie theaters to netflix, College Universities to Online learning. Mark Cuban even said himself “if your school is building a business building, then its f’ed”. I can’t help but see every potential demise of every industry.

    I am always questioning if I should have been in here earlier or if I am in a perfect position to catch this next wave. Am I in a perfect position right now?

    Thank you for the refreshing historical perspective


    1. I’ve asked myself the same question. I believe it’s not too late to get ready for the new realities that are already emerging. The key is to understand that the old jobs that have been around for the past half a century are going to be gone, SOON! They will be replaced by a new economy, where robots and AI can do the jobs of humans much more cheaply.

      But there are many new opportunities as well. For example, these days the cost of starting businesses online is quite low.

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