Today I was thinking, “What are the fundamental technologies of the economy of the future?” And I came up with the following acronym:
C – Computers.
R – Robots.
I – Internet.
S – Solar (Power).
P – (3D) Printers.
Now, you could argue that biotechnology should be on the list, but I think of biotechnology as a ‘second level’ technology. Not that it isn’t important, but it’s being driven by computers, robots, the internet, and printers, and not vice versa. Likewise social media is derived from the internet.
What to do with this shiny new acronym now that we have it?
First, it helps clarify thinking about the direction that engineering education should take in the twenty-first century.
Second, it makes it clear that the technology of the future is going to soon create an economic system where intelligence, physical labor, information, energy, and manufacturing capacity are virtually limitless.
Something is wrong then, when the present economic debate is about cutting pensions and controlling health care costs. For that matter, why are Japan and China fighting over oil and gas resources when solar power can provide far more energy without threat of military conflict? And what is the relevance of ‘global trade’ of China vs. US in a world where ‘print shops’ in your home town can print food, automobiles, and medicine?
The CRISP Revolution is not really about technology as it is about changing our view of technology. If we focus on advances in these areas, we see the future in a different light. It is a very positive light. We can still botch it, and maybe that’s the way to place the bet. But there is hope for the future, and humans will have to work hard to mess it up.