Since the Industrial Revolution, there has been a false concern about how the consumption of the world's natural resources could lead to the "Age of Scarcity." It was a concern propagated in the mid-19th century by economists Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo.
They postulated that there is a finite amount of resources that will produce limited economic value. Over time, if humans continue to accumulate natural resources without paying attention to their consumption, these resources for economic gain will lead to their downfall.
These experts pointed to the problems of mass production, which would only become more apparent in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries: the resources consumed at an insurmountable rate.
The age of insufficiency seemed inevitable because they underestimated our ability to innovate to access more resources, use technology to reduce the need for them and continue to increase production, as well as to create new technology to transform waste into resources.
Then, at the beginning of the 21st century, came the Digital Age, which introduced new technologies and, as a result, would end the Age of Scarcity and transform the world as we know it today.
At the annual meeting of the World Future Society in July 2013, I met Ramez Naam, a fellow futurist, speaking about the impact of the current fifth techno-economic revolution and its implication for our future.
The technology produced during this era focused specifically on quality over quantity. He redefined the purpose of technology; a purpose focused on personalizing the needs of the individual in a more efficient way. Technology had evolved from the era of mass consumption to an era of preservation and personalization. This digital revolution would eventually lead to the end of the scarcity era.
At the beginning of the 20th century, more and more books were being written to augment this truth. By the twenty-first century, the technology of the digital age demonstrated how it could prevent the age of scarcity. Based on recent studies, it appears that nanomaterials, micro-electrical mechanical systems, and digital fabrication have been the most influential in the Digital Age, changing the way materials are produced. Indeed, these technologies appear to be the most powerful in ending the era of scarcity.
Evidence of this impact has been found in Fred Rogers and Richard Lilach's book: Ride the Wave . They propose how "Micro-electrical mechanical systems" change the way mechanical devices can work by being smaller and more efficient. In one example, they mention how Medtronic, a medical device company that I have invested in since 2014, is currently building a pacemaker the size of a silver dollar. At this size, this pacemaker would no longer need leads, which would allow it to be much smaller, and which, in turn, would cause it to generate less energy and fewer complications.
Other microsystem sensors mentioned in Ride the Wave are being used to direct smart bombs and missiles, measure forces in sports, measure when a car's airbag will deploy, etc.
In addition to the microsystem, nanotechnology, considered as one billionth of a meter, has also been important in ending scarcity. Nanotechnology allows material consumption to flourish in minute quantities. Other benefits of nanomaterial include reducing the cost-effectiveness of materials, which are increasingly increasing in a world dedicated to materials consumption.
Nanotechnology is very influential and effective in the field of space travel and nanomedicine. "In space, nanoparticles using laser propulsion on the ground could replace expensive chemical rockets ... This and other advances will enhance the rapid progress that is being made in terms of private sector space technology."
By inventing innovative medical robots, as well as other nanotechnologies in the field of medicine, the Digital Age continues to demonstrate how it is ending scarcity.
This is evidenced by how, through nanomedicine, medical robots capable of inserting themselves into a human being have been invented. For example, the ViRob robot, produced by Microbot Medical, which has been designed to clean the blood vessels of patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases. Made with nanotechnology, ViRob's microscopic size enables medical procedures that would normally be very difficult or impossible for medical professionals to perform.
Según estudios de tecnología, el ViRob no es el único robot nanotecnológico que se fabrica en el mundo. Otros países también están experimentando sobre los beneficios médicos del microbot.
These few examples in medical nanotechnology demonstrate how impactful it is in reducing material consumption. This technology, however, is not the only proof of how technology will help end the shortage.
3D printing is further proof of how the technology of the Digital Age not only reduces the use of resources and thus will contribute to ending the shortage in digital manufacturing, but also contributes to creating new advancements in the manufacture of goods with less material and labor.
3D printing has become increasingly popular in creating toys designed for the home. However, the biggest impact of technology is how it has helped reduce costs and the speed of bringing new products to market. By using 3D to make only the number of products to be consumed, manufacturers can avoid wasted inventory that too often ends up in landfills when customer tastes change.
Research and studies indicate that 3D printing will continue to be more valuable with the emergence of new technologies, beyond the design and manufacture of toys. The possibilities in digital manufacturing, specifically 3D technology, also include metal printing. This technology will revolutionize the economy by allowing more innovative ideas to reach the global market.
While the Industrial Revolution managed to find ways to produce materials at an accelerated rate, the Digital Age changed and managed to produce materials at an efficient rate, resulting in the end of the Age of Scarcity.
Thanks to 5G technology we will have new advances in the digital age, production in Mass will decrease due to cost-effective resources used in digital fabrication, nanotechnology, and micro electrical mechanical systems. Through this technology, the Digital Era is revolutionizing the way products are produced, giving material results that are obtained with more efficiency and less raw material.
This technology is most influential and impactful in how resources are perceived in the 21st century and beyond, with a focus on preservation rather than consumption of resources. Over time, it also appears that this Digital Age technology will only continue to develop and progress, further justifying the fact that the Digital Age has ended the Age of Scarcity.