Unformatted text preview: Social Evolution Martin Hilbert (Dr., PhD) How do technologies transform societies and lead to a
process of evolution of humankind's civilization and
society? How do technologies
transform societies? The Khmer empire (+/‐800‐1400 A.D.)
The secret of “Barays” and the arising surplus
water management system stretching across over 1200 square km (460 square miles) “Civilization advances by extending the
number of important operations which we
can perform without thinking about them.”
Hayek (1945) The Use of Knowledge in Society. AER, 35(4). around 1200 A.D. Khmer empire - civilization that dominated area around
Cambodia for ~600 years, very successful, dominated
an area 3x bigger than Cambodia, created impressive
buildings (e.g. Angur Wat).
Their secret was "barays," water management systems
that provided a standardized solution to a typical need
they were having. It helped water rice fields.
Before that everyone was taking care of their own fields.
After the introduction of barays, they were able to
liberate resources. Now, not everyone had to work in rice
production. They used the extra time on their hands to draw and become architects. Others became soldiers and
started to invade other countries. Others became lawyers and started to make policies.
Civilization becomes possible because there is all this time on one's hand, which allows us to be liberated
from mundane tasks like feeding ourselves. This is done by automating some of our processes.
(Civilization quote on top right) Technology is what drives and enables civilization, and
leads to human progress. If you look at the state of the
art solutions to life people out of poverty and to help
societies to develop, "The End of Poverty" says that in
order to reduce pov, you have to bring technology to
Examples listed on slide …for human development!
Embody knowledge to create surplus and
liberate resources for other aspects of well-being Boosting agriculture/economy
Irrigation systems, storage bins, fertilizers, etc.
Improving basic health
Ceramic stoves, refrigeration, rainwater harvesting
systems, water pumps, antimalarial bed nets, etc. Technology is what drives human progress. It's more
than just "toys for the boys." Investing in education
Lab material, computers and software apps, etc.
GENERAL PURPOSE TECHNOLOGIES
Electricity, Motorization, ICT, etc. …creating surplus through technology… The fundamental theory of how tech transformed
society is based on the idea of long waves of human
evolution. These are cycles of high growth and low
Kondratiev long waves
2. Industrial Revolution--1780 Age of Steam and Railways--1848 3. Age of Steel, Electricity and Heavy Engineering--1895 4. Age of Oil, the Automobile and Mass Production--1940
5. Age of Information and Telecommunications--1973
6. the “6th Kondratieff”…? Kondratiev said that ever 40-60 years, there seemed to
be such alternating cycles. Together with Schumpeter,
they identified and characterized 3 of such waves
(listed on slide).
Freedman and Paris added two more recent waves (in
red on slide). 2 Loooooong waves! …didn’t start with the industrial revolution!
Stone-age: 2.000.000 – 3.300 bc Bronze-age: 3.300 – 1.200 bc = 1.996.700 years
= 2.100 years Iron-age: 1.200 – 586 bc = 614 years Babylon-Hellenistic age: 586 – 167 bc = 419 years Roman age: 37bc – 324 = 316 years Byzantine age: 324 – 638 = 314 years Arab age: 638 – 1000 = 362 years Medieval age : 1000 – 1800 = 800 years Water-power age: 1780 – 1848 = 68 years Steam-power age: 1848 – 1895 = 47 years Electro age: 1895 – 1940 The length of each period characterizing social evolution
become shorter and shorter. Things seems to become
faster. Tech change accelerated. (incl. Crusader&Ottoman) Motor age: 1940 – 1973 Digital age: today
1973 – ???? “Molecular age”?
“Green age”? Usually, people say a long wave takes between 40-60
years. However, we realize the tech paradigm is
characterizing and driving human evolution, and started
since the days we climbed down the trees.
E.g. stone age - we used stone tech and that
distinguished us from other animals, we automated
E.g. bronze age - bronze tech --> Iron Age
After that, humans split up a bit (not as clear cut how
automation continued). In the 1780s though, water-power
came up, followed by steam-power, etc = 45 years
= 32 years ==40+
years 2000 – ???? The digital age is the most recent process of social evolution, but surely not the last stage. There are other
paradigms already looming to be explored. We don't know when it will start. Some think it has to do with
bio tech and molecular tech (based on the ability to manipulate molecules), but who knows?
Social evolution will definitely continue past us. Information and
Technologies (ICT) How does society evolve? There is always a carrying technology and an abling
Tech was used to automate process to give us time to do
other things, like create civilization. Automobile,
aircraft Progress Electrical
Water wheels Stone
tools 2,000,000bc 3,300bc 1,200bc 1780 1848 1895 1940 1973 20?? TIME
Source: Hilbert and Cairo, 2008; Cristopher Freeman et al. As time goes by, 2001. Schumpeter, (1939). Business Cycles: A Theoretical, Hist., & Stat. Analysis of the Capitalist Process. Information and
Technologies (ICT) How does society evolve? Human
engineering In the beginning, it was stone/bronze/iron tools. In
modern times, we use water mills and wheat mills. The
steam engine lead to the industrial complex. Electricity
was an important abling tech. Then, we had the auto.
Lastly, we had the digital rev and ICT. We see some long
waves of social evolution. The green lines gives us a trend line through the diff
waves of social evolution. The green line is human
progress. It is exponential, meaning that human progress
is accelerating. The period between these long wave
paradigms are becoming shorter and shorter. Steam-engines
Water wheels Stone
tools 2,000,000bc 3,300bc 1,200bc 1780 1848 1895 1940 1973 20?? TIME
Source: Hilbert and Cairo, 2008; Cristopher Freeman et al. As time goes by, 2001. Schumpeter, (1939). Business Cycles: A Theoretical, Hist., & Stat. Analysis of the Capitalist Process. 3 Tech evolved: exponential, goes in jumps, and
accumulative (e.g. you need electricity in order to have
digital tech). Not everything needs everything, but in
general, it is an accumulative process. Schumpeter calls
this the "contours of economic evolution." The Contours of Economic Evolution Energy consumption 45 years 40 growth of
80% Steam-engines water-powered Electrical
80% 30 Mechanization 50 aircraft Mechanization Red line shows energy consumption. We see the same
exponential tendencies. 10 20 growth of
80% Water wheels We have some kind of performance indicator on the yaxis (GDP). If we map these economic capacity of the
world, we see periods of growth between the different
long waves. Usually the economy has grown 80%
during each period. During each period, the economy is
multiplied by a factor of 1.8. That's what makes it
exponential. 60 Automobile 68 years 3,000 70 Motorization 47 years steam-powered
2,000 ICT 80 32 years 90 Btu (British thermal unit, US) Electrification 1,000 100 Digitalization 5,000
4,000 J.A. Schumpeter
(1883-1950) ongoing? GDP per
capita (USD, world) 6,000 7,000 J.A. Schumpeter
(1883-1950) 1780 1848 1895 Source: based on Cristopher Freeman et al. As time goes by, 2001. 1940 1973 2000 TIME Schumpeter called this process of ongoing human evolution through these kind of discrete jumps as
"creative destruction." “Creative Destruction” Creative destruction is a centerpiece for modern
thinking for how economies evolve.
An economic principle observed by Schumpeter in
CD is an essential fact of capitalism. Ice production story - we have a higher quality ice, but
lots of job lost in the process...but without CD, we
wouldn't have the higher living standards that have
emerged over time 4 Joseph Alois Schumpeter
Business Cycles: The Contours of Economic Evolution (1939) “…the history of capitalism is studded with violent bursts and catastrophes…. we […] come to the
conclusion that evolution is a disturbance of existing structures and more like a series of explosions
than a gentle, though incessant, transformation…”
“This process of economic change or evolution, moreover, goes on in units separated from each other by neighborhoods
of equilibrium. Each of those units, in turn, consists of two distinct phases, during the first of which the system, under the
impulse of entrepreneurial activity, draws away from an equilibrium position, and during the second of which it draws
toward another equilibrium position… we observe in the course of those fluctuations in economic life which have come
to be called business cycles and which, translated into the language of diagrams, present the picture of an undulating or
wavelike movement in absolute figures or rates of change” The refrigerator is part of the long wave of
electrification. Schumpeter's theory holds that creative
destruction works on many different levels, so the fridge
is part of a larger technological paradigm.
There are many simultaneous cycles (look at quote on
wavelike fluctuations on slides). => Economic and social evolution is a process that is always “out of equilibrium”!
“…as the process gathers momentum, these effects steadily gain in importance, and disequilibrium, enforcing a process
of adaptation, begins to show. … this is the process by which the effects of the entrepreneurial activity spread over the
whole system, dislocating values, disrupting the equilibrium that existed before. The term Windfall correctly expresses the
character of both these gains and losses…” [“creative destruction”]
“Many simultaneous cycles:
an indefinite number of wavelike fluctuations which will roll on simultaneously and interfere with one another in the process
… many fluctuations, of different span and intensity, which seem to be superimposed on each other…” There is a dynamic that goes on between higher and
lower level cycles. Source: Schumpeter, J. (1939). Business Cycles: A Theoretical, Historical, And Statistical Analysis of the Capitalist Process. New York:
McGraw-Hill. Retrieved from He had three self-centered goals: best horseman in Europe, greatest lover in Vienna, greatest economist
in world (achieved 2/3...people guess). So he says the "history....[quote on slide]...transformation (e.g.
there is a logic of jumps and disruptive innovations; biologists call it punctuated equil and here we call is
creative destruction). The general tendency is exponential.
"The processs...rates of change" - as we draw away from equilibrium/old way of doing things to a new way
of doing things (steam engines ---> electricity; destroys the old way and creatively draws us toward the
Long wave 1st
Revolution.” Mechanization 3rd
Early 1970s+ New or redefined
infrastructures Classical mechanics
and hydraulics (e.g. Water-powered
Technology Isaac Newton and
Blaise Pascal) Steampowered
technology Canals and waterways.
energy (greatly improved
waterwheels). (e.g. Sadi Carnot
and James Joule) (e.g. Michael Faraday,
Heinrich Hertz, Nikola
Tesla, Thomas Edison) Mechanical Information theory
and computer science Digital
technology (e.g. Claude Shannon,
Alan Turing, Norbert
Bush) Digitization Electrical networks (for
lighting and industry). Working conditions for
agriculture. Amount and
quality of food. Clothes
and culture. Automobiles. Oil and oil
tanks. Road networks,
highways, ports and
networks. Engineering (e.g.
Nikolaus Otto, Gottlieb
Daimlet, Karl Benz,
Wright Brothers) Combustion
and oil motorpowered
technology Mechanical cotton
Forged iron. Machinery. Electrical industry
technology and electrical
Copper and cables. Electromagnetism Electricitypowered
technology Social change Steam engines and
machinery. Iron and coal
Production of rolling stock.
Steam energy for various
industries (incl.textiles). Railroads (use of steambased machinery). Coal
transport, large ports,
warehouses and sailing
vessels worldwide. Natural
gas in cities. Thermodynamics New or redefined
sectors Worldwide digital telecommunications (cable,
fibre optic, radio, satellite).
service infrastructure. Transportation and
changes in social
networking over far
distances for work and
private. Changes in reach
Change of daily schedule
for work and private.
Home comfort and
reduction of housework.
Working conditions. We never really are in equilibrium.
"As the process gathers...creative destruction..."
We are gonna apply Schumpeter's theory to the most
recent 5 long waves of social evolution in an
interactive exercise. Transportation and
changes in social
networking over far
distances for work and
private. Changes in
corporate governance. Computers and software.
Social networks and
entertainment. Source: based on Cristopher Freeman et al. As time goes by, 2001. Heat has to do with the movement of molecules (fast moving, hot). Information and
Technologies (ICT) …and where’s medical progress? Progress Automobile,
aircraft But what about medical progress?
Physical structures are things like pills and medicines.
They are very important in prolonging our life. You can
re-draw these curves on medical progress too or other
technologies. This doesn't change the fact that we can
think about social evolution in terms of technological
change driving it. Electrical
Water wheels GENERAL
1780 1848 1895 1940 1973 There are other ways to classify this kind of evolution.
Prof used the main references in economic literature
(Water, purification, engineering, etc) TIME 5 How do
societies evolve? 2nd Kontradieff (steam engine rev). Look at the # of
railroad firm foundings in Mass. Before 1825, there were
no railroad companies. Around 1850, they started to raise
(15-20 railroad companies). And then after a while, the
founding started to decrease. This is clearly a wave.
Empirical evidence of creative destruction The 2nd Kondratieff: Railroad firms founding Source: Dobbin and Dowd (1997), Administrative Science Quarterly, 42 (1997): 515 Empirical evidence of creative destruction The 4th Kondratieff: Car manufactures Looking at the # of car manufacturers. Around 1910there were about 350 car companies in the US. In
Europe/France there were about 150. In Germany, there
were about 80.
Nowadays, we don't have that many car companies. This
is another example of a wave.
There are opportunities that come with these waves that
go up and down. This evolutionary trajectory can be
studied with analytical tools very similar to how biologists
study biological evolution. So some people call this
organizational ecology. Companies can born and die
similar to how species are born and can die. 6 What is needed to trigger a great surge?
1) We need tech change.
2) We need social change.
Let's start with tech change - what are the
characteristics tech needs to have to trigger a surge?
See Perez quote and 4 conditions.
Carlota Perez (1983): What is needed to trigger a great surge? 1‐ Technology This quantum jump in productivity can be seen as a technological revolution… fulfilling the following conditions: • Unlimited supply for all practical purposes; • Clearly perceived low-and descending- relative cost; • Potential all-pervasiveness; • A capacity to reduce the costs of capital, labour and
products as well as to change them qualitatively. Source: Perez, C. (1983). Structural change and assimilation of new technologies in the economic and social systems. Futures, 15(5), 357–375. Some technologies do not fulfill all these
conditions, like space science. While they're
important, they're not potentially all-pervasive. - unlimited supply for all practical purposes (if we had a
tech built on gold, we wouldn't be able to make 100%
gold mobile phones since there isn't enough gold)
- low, descending-relative cost (this is so that everyone
can use it and this happens through long periods of
continuous technological innovation; think of Moore's
Law; if tech doesnt become cheaper and cheaper, we
can't sell it to everyone)
-potential all-pervasiveness (needs to be a general
purpose like, unlike X-rays; electricity, on the other
hand, can be used for many purposes; society defines
- reduce the costs of capital, labor, and products (input
and output of productivity needs to be transformed;
moderanization of society) The second thing needed to trigger change is social
It all starts with the exhaustion of a pervading paradigm
which leads to an economic/social pressure for change.
Things don't work anymore, there is no growth. This leads
to a surge for new technological possibilities, which then
aim at the construction of a new paradigm of a new
paradigm. But at the same time,it meets some kind of
inertia of the old socio-institutional framework. E.g.
politicians or the labor market - want the change, but there
is also resistant because creative destruction is still
destructive. Over time, the new way of doing things is
better understood, adopted, and shaped by the people.
This leads to new socio-political processes as well as a
new socio-institutional framework, which leads to the reFor the deployment of new tech system, there launch of economic growth and the deployment of new
are several processes of change and adaption. technological potential.
(on slide, right top) (e.g. rule 3 led to the
creation of a driver's license and DMW because
cars were all over the place)
Nowadays we take DMV-like institutions for granted.
What is needed to trigger a great surge? “The deployment of each technology system involves
2a‐ Social Change several interconnected processes…: 1. The development of surrounding services (required
infrastructure, specialized suppliers,
distributors, maintenance services, etc.) 2. The "cultural" adaptation to the logic of the
interconnected technologies involved (among engineers, managers, sales and service people,
consumers, etc.) 3. The setting up of the institutional facilitators (rules and
regulations, specialized training and education, etc.)” Source: Perez, C. (2004). Technological
Revolutions, Paradigm Shifts and SocioInstitutional Change. In E. Reinert (Ed.),
Globalization, Economic Development and
Inequality: An alternative Perspective (pp. 217–
242). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. What is needed to trigger a great surge? 2b‐ Social Adjustment Carlota Perez (2006), “Re-specialisation and the deployment of the ICT paradigm: An essay on the present challenges of globalisation”, p. 33 - 48. Prof Perez says we can distinguish two phases. 1) the
Installation period of the long wave of the great period, 2)
the deployment period of the great surge. They often have
to do with financial bubbles; basically, at the beginning
while you have the old paradigm, you still battle the old
paradigm, but during that time as well, many people get
very impressed by the new possibilities that suddenly
arise. Examples: Silicon Valley.
People get greedy and want to invest --> invest too much
--> financial bubbles
People want to get more out of the technology than they
can get in a short time. Eventually, bubbles burst. Then,
we can deploy this paradigm in a realistic manner.
Eventually, the tech fulfills promises and more, but not as
fast as greedy investors would like....
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