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2018

Once upon a time, business leaders could leave technology to the technologists. But today, we are at the starting line of a universal technological revolution — one that is fundamentally altering four key realms of our world: commerce, health care, learning, and the environment. Given the pervasive and diverse nature of this revolution, business leaders must understand the technologies that are driving it, the capabilities they offer, and their potential impacts.

This report provides executives with a lexicon to the revolution. It identifies seven core technologies — pervasive computing, wireless mesh networks, biotechnology, 3D printing, machine learning, nanotechnology, and robotics — and describes their implications for commerce, health care, learning, and the environment. Use it as a guide and a basis for strategic discussion as you and your team seek to understand today’s business frontiers and the opportunities that lie ahead.


Seven Technological Sparks

“You’re only given one little spark of madness,” said the late actor and comedian Robin Williams. “You mustn’t lose it.” Williams used his spark to ignite his comedic rocket and blast past the established boundaries of his craft. Technology provides a similar spark: It enables us to push beyond the established boundaries of our world.

The mechanized spinning of textiles, large-scale manufacturing of chemicals, steam power, and efficiencies in iron-making sparked the first Industrial Revolution (1760-1840). Railroads, the telegraph and telephone, and electricity and other utilities sparked the second Industrial Revolution (1870-1940). Radio, aviation, and nuclear fission sparked the Scientific/Technical Revolution (1940-1970). The internet and digital media and devices sparked the Information Revolution (1985-present). In each instance, the inflection point that marked the new revolution was the appearance of new technologies that fundamentally reshaped key aspects of the world, such as commerce, health care, learning, and the environment.

Today, we see technological sparks everywhere. They are emerging from the digital, chemical, material, and biological sciences, and they are precipitating a revolution that is altering nearly every dimension of our lives.

About the Author:

Albert H. Segars, is the PNC Bank Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and director of UNC’s Center for Sustainable Enterprise. He has held posts in research and development at the U.S. Department of Defense, IBM, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He can be reached at al.segars@unc.edu.

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2 Comments On: Seven Technologies Remaking the World

  • orlando dicembre | April 13, 2018

    Thank you. You helped me to continue the search for certainties to realize a project to “help save human life at sea”. The greatest difficulty is the grouping of “people” who share the salvation of life for the simple fact that we as human beings are the first to save the world and our preservation through the growth of the intelligence that is the basis of life itself.
    Intelligence is particularly ignorant about destruction and does not admit a retroactive process like death, even if it knows its existence it will only be able to compare itself with the time of vision of its occurrence, and intelligence will tend towards life.
    “MAPPING SEFETY CRUISE” is a project of all the “people” able to save the world that come together because they are “intelligent people” and life protect it.
    Cruise is the complex and difficult world where to enter there are Bureaucracy, Vanity and Arrogance, just to consent to the authorizations, but always “people” I have to yes to other “people” for which is put in place an activity to help save life at sea.
    I think you are “people able to save the world” and I am sure you can join us.
    Thank you
    Orlando Dicembre

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