Vivek Wadhwa of Singularity University returns to Big Think today as part of today’s featured video interview. The topic is disruption: the phenomenon that occurs when radical innovations ignite revolutionary or evolutionary change in an industry.
A simple example of this is what services like Lyft and Uber have done to disrupt the taxi industry. On a larger scale, cell phone technology has disrupted communications to the point that the private landline has gone the way of the dodo.
“Every industry I’ve looked at I’ve seen a trend of major disruption happening. Manufacturing is the most obvious. With robotics and 3-D printing, as of this year, it is cheaper to manufacture in the United States than it is in China. It is cheaper to manufacture in Europe than it is in China.”
Many westerners have lamented the recent outsourcing of manufacturing jobs to places like China. Wadhwa explains that automation is going to once again make manufacturing a local industry, although those human jobs don’t return with them. This is because operating costs will soon dip below what it costs to pay humans, meaning there will be no reason for major corporations to maintain international facilities that exploit cheap labor. That’s good for the U.S., Europe, and much of Asia, Wadhwa says. It’s not so good for China.
The switch to automated manufacturing is just the tip of the iceberg as far as that industry’s disruptions go. Over the next few decades we’ll see manufacturing get a major facelift:
“Within 15 to 20 years we’ll be able to 3-D print electronics. So imagine being able to design your own iPhone and print it at home. That is what becomes technically feasible in the 15 to 20 year timeframe. So you’re talking about major disruption happening to manufacturing in the short-term and then even greater disruption happening in the long term.”
Wadhwa explains that innovations such as crowdfunding and Bitcoin represent disruptions to the financial industry as well. Banks, he says, will have to reinvent themselves if they want to stay in business. Experiments involving crowdfunded loans are already being made outside the U.S.
The Latest on: Tech Disruptions
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The Latest on: Tech Disruptions
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