Friday, December 11, 2015

Informatization and iconomy

(This is the text of my conference at the 5th World Congress on Information and Communication Technologies, December 14-16, 2015, Marrakesh, Morocco)

Texte en français

We would like to propose here an explanation of the current economic crisis, of slowing growth and of the unemployment that hit several countries. Our thesis is based on the one Bertrand Gille offered in its Histoire des Techniques, published by Gallimard in the collection “La Pléïade” in 1978.

Bertrand Gille proposes to cut the history into several periods, each period being characterized by a technical system, the synergy of a small number of fundamental techniques.

From the Paleolithic, humans were indeed able to develop tools to complement the work of their hands, and since then many technical systems have succeeded.

Consider the last four technical systems: the agricultural system of the feudal regime gave way, from 1775, to the "modern technical system" that relies on the synergy of mechanics and chemistry. Around 1875 these two techniques were supplemented by the control of electrical energy, as well as the control of oil, creating the "modern developed technical system" whose the great firms are the most illustrative creatures. The electric motor was invented by Gramme in 1873, electric lighting by Edison in 1879, the internal combustion engine by Otto in 1884.

The "contemporary technical system" arises around 1975. It is based on an entirely new synergy: that of microelectronics, software and the Internet. The informatization of business is organized around an information system in the 1970s, the microcomputer is spreading in the 1980s, the Internet and mobile phone in the 1990s, the "smart" phone (which is in fact a mobile computer) in the 2000s. In factories, the robotics automates the repetitive tasks that were previously entrusted to the workforce.

The next steps are already underway with the synergy of mobile broadband, cloud computing and the Internet of Things; the human body is informatized with the mobile computer, implants and prosthetics; various tools (3D printer, scanner, etc.) are used to move from the virtual world to the real world and vice versa.