The nineties marked the .com bubble while the 2000’s marked the app and e-commerce revolution. For those entrepreneurs in search of the next big thing, here it goes a small tip. 3D printing is quickly gaining momentum, and as all new technologies do, it is expected to rock every aspect of our daily lives. While this technology is being used to replace manufacturing, the extent of its capabilities has not been fully explored. In order to quantify the extent of the disruptions caused by this new industry, it would be useful to analyze what this technology is already doing. One simple example is the creation of 3D bioprinting. It is true that so far, 3D bioprinting has failed to create a working liver for those waiting for a transplant, however, it has succeeded on creating printed live tissue.
Think about it, this is live tissue coming out of a machine! It may not yet be good enough to replace a working heart, but, could it be good enough to eat? Would you eat a 3D printed steak? I would sure rather know that no animal has suffered while I am enjoying my meal. Introducing this technology to the food industry can change our whole lifestyle. 3D bioprinting could replace traditional farming while helping mitigate other big problems that don’t currently have a practical solution. Immediate availability of food without emission of green house gases can reduce global warming while eliminating our vulnerability to weather changes. This can be the beginning of absolute food security at a global scale, regardless of natural resources available in each country.
Luckily I am not the only one thinking this way, a small company in Missouri called Modern Meadow is doing exactly that. This is not a conceptual idea, it is actually happening. The next technological revolution is upon us and it will not happen in the virtual space. The many benefits of this innovation will not come without any caveats. This shift in production methods will directly affect multiple industries; among those included are industrial manufacturing, commercial machinery, farming and transportation to name a few. Surprisingly, the most fundamental shift brought by this technology will not be reflected in the way we eat, but rather in the current order of socioeconomic structure. The reason for this concern lies in the fundamental assumptions of our current economic models, which are designed to handle change, only one variable at the time, and over a long period (generally a few years). Perhaps that is why we have witnessed so many financial crises around the world through the last few decades. Changes are happening rapidly and simultaneously due to the increased interconnectedness of the international markets. A technological innovation that affects several industries simultaneously, promises to create ripple effects at a global scale as we have never seen before. Will the current economic structure be able to withstand the collapse of simultaneous industries around the world? How deeply will this production shift affect employment and market demand?
From the public sector perspective, governments should be concerned with finding ways to fill the unemployment gap while the labor market reacts to the newly skill requirements of the industry. Simultaneously, they should begin thinking about the possibility that not every unskilled worker will be reabsorbed by new industries. Education and normative will play a big role addressing these disruptions in a humane manner. The future socioeconomic structure may need to adapt to a new reality where labor supply will greatly exceed demand for many years to come; Unless we can rethink the way demand is established and carefully evaluate what we are willing to give up in exchange for a peaceful transition to a better future. From the private sector perspective, business leaders should be concerned with identifying and retaining the talent that will allow them to weather the storm of changes that are rapidly approaching. The next technological revolution is here to stay. Is your company prepared to navigate through waves of change and reach the next frontier?
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