The Sixth Techno-economic Paradigm Is Coming and It Is not the Last One
Human reason is the main driver of contemporary civilization. The world owes it today’s progress. A lack of reason may lead the world to its death tomorrow.
On the threshold of the sixth techno-economic paradigm, scientists forecast a great change in the human worldview. In the epoch of cybernetics, computer science and nanotechnologies, reason is the main driver of the future civilization. Only a collective, spiritually universal and rational reason can effectively manage the development of society. Otherwise, the danger of self-destruction and planetary catastrophe is too high.
We can evaluate differently the reciprocal effect of the economic conditions and spiritual and creative components of human existence, in other words, “bread and circuses”. However, the progress or regress in one sphere always affects the other one. An example is the theory of information revolutions as part and parcel of the evolution of Homo sapiens. According to it, the introduction of language into consciousness launched a dramatic change in the development of humanity. Then, written language was invented. After that, printing, telegraph, telephone, radio, television and, finally, the World Wide Web appeared. In parallel with information evolution, industrial relations formed: the agrarian epoch and transition to agriculture and animal farming; the industrial epoch with line production in factories and plants, and the distribution of labor markets, raw material, processing and sale; and the epoch of information and high technology based on knowledge.
In effective economic management, the central role is given to technological revolutions in the development of contemporary civilization. The greatest milestones were: the invention of the steam engine in the 17th century; the achievements of chemistry and electrophysics in the 19th century; and the introduction of computers in the 20th century. The supporters of this approach believe that industrial revolutions radically increased the productivity of labor and … formed the society of mass consumption. Karl Marx created an ode to gunpowder, the compass and printing: “the invention of gunpowder, the compass and the printing press … are necessary pre-requisites for bourgeois development. Gunpowder explodes knighthood, the compass opens the world market, and book printing enhances spiritual development”.
It is time for scientific and technological revolutions, when innovative knowledge underpins material production. Automation and robot technology, new materials and substances, space systems and technologies are widely spread … The discoveries have helped humanity to reach a qualitatively new standard of living and use resources more effectively. This immediately boosted consumer demands. However, all the world achievements did not prevent economic, political and social shocks in society.
The popular concept of techno-economic paradigms explains the inevitable cyclic development of the economies in the countries that essentially influence the world economy. According to this theory, “business activity” on the Earth rises and falls, like waves, every 50 years.
The first techno-economic paradigm is considered to last from 1772 to 1825. Sir Richard Arkwright invented the spinning machine and built a textile factory. The industrial method of production was started on the Earth. Overproduction and panic at stock exchanges finished this stage. Then, Englishmen launched a new “toy”. In 1824, Locomotion No. 1 opened the second techno-economic paradigm – the epoch of steam. The honor of the founder-parents of the third techno-economic paradigm is divided by Germany, the USA, France, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Great Britain. The capitalist world mastered industrial steelmaking, which stimulated the development of different fields. At the same time, many of the advanced technologies were tested on the battlefields of war. The First World War broke out at the dawn of the fourth techno-economic paradigm. It began with the line production of cars. The internal combustion engine brought humanity to the epoch of hydrocarbon extraction and processing. This was also accompanied by crises and shocks, the most destructive of which – the Second World War – was ended by the nuclear bombardment of the Empire of the Rising Sun. The atomic age began.
The fifth techno-economic paradigm rests on the achievements of microelectronics, genetic engineering, new types of energy and materials, and space communication systems. Contemporary production is characterized by an increase in high technology, resource-saving technologies, and artificial intelligence. Society is greatly influenced by progressing information exchange and big data operational analysis. This has radically changed the key aspects of human life ensuring social development in all directions. However, since the late 2010, high-profile experts in the world economy have pointed out the end of dramatic growth marked by the world financial crisis. This provided an opportunity to announce the coming sixth techno-economic paradigm. It is expected in the 2030-2040s. A new wave of scientific and technical revolutions in different fields of knowledge is anticipated over one and a half decades.
The sixth techno-economic paradigm will be marked by the bloom of nano- and biotechnology, computer science, robotics, genetic engineering, quantum inventions, microelectronics, mechanics, and photonics. Alternative, natural sources of energy will be widely used together with nuclear fusion energy. New methods will be formed in social systems management. Energy and material consumption will be reduced, active life expectancy will increase and … the risk will dramatically grow of “the end of the world” that has been predicted for millennia. Will humanity be ready intellectually, morally and culturally to manage the processes under the condition of aggravated international, religious, class, social and other forms of dissociation of the population?
Thus, now, the need for the suprapolitical and international integration of people is inevitable. It could be forced by the global threats and risks or be natural historical because humanity is already prepared and capable of becoming united as the planetary phenomenon. Worldwide association is possible without hurting the cultural and historical and sociopolitical identity of peoples. Today, a scientifically substantiated infrastructure for this process is proposed by many world-renowned authorities including the Planetary Project.