Innovation And Our Well-Being

In a post from 2016, I launched an innovation wheel that captured the activity of the second industrial revolution. This activity set the standard of living that much of society enjoys today. As I mentioned in that earlier post, in a brilliant journey through the economic history of the western world, author Robert J. Gordon looks at The Rise and Fall of American Growth. The book focused on a revolutionary century that impacted the American standard of living more than any period before or after. Our standard of living is typically viewed as the ratio of total production of goods and services (real GDP) per member of the population. But this measure fails to truly capture enhancements to our well-being. Human well-being is influenced by advances in the areas of food, clothing, shelter, energy, transport, education, health, work, information, entertainment, and communications. The special century (1870 – 1970) that followed the Civil War was made possible by a unique clustering of what the author calls the great inventions. Clearly – as the visual depicts – the great inventions of the second industrial revolution significantly improved our well-being.

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The Extraction Age Gives Way To The Creation Age

In their book titled Rethinking Humanity, RethinkX Founders Tony Seba and James Arbib describe a transition from an age of extraction to an emerging age of creation. The extraction age began with agriculture and continued through the industrial period. The authors describe the age of extraction as follows:

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Materials Play A Big Role In The Next Phase Of Human Development

When looking at possible futures, one domain seems to intersect with them all. Whether we are discussing the environment, food, mobility, or energy, one common denominator is materials science. Wikipedia Defines it as an interdisciplinary field focused on the design and discovery of new materials, particularly solids. Materials science incorporates elements of physics, chemistry, and engineering. The Wikipedia page reflects on why it intersects with so much:

Many of the most pressing scientific problems humans currently face are due to the limits of available materials and how they are used. Thus, breakthroughs in materials science are likely to affect the future of technology significantly.”

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