A Pictorial Look at Four Industrial Revolutions: Steam Engine to Search Engine

Kabir Mohammed
Jan 1 · 7 min read
State of Current Industrial Revolution. Credit: washingtonmonthly.com

I am fascinated by the technological advancement of humans. Technology is playing a much deeper role in modern human lives than ever before. The speed of technology adoption throughout the world is impressive. Only a few decades ago, most parts of the developing world were still looking for ways to get electricity to their people. Today, most of these developing nations are busy adopting 5G technologies from mass-market technology leaders like China and Korea. Flat-screen TVs, smartphones, and social media have taken over our lives everywhere. It is incredible to think how quickly humans have gone from steam engine powered trains to artificial intelligence-powered self-driving cars! I wanted to compile a set of pictures denoting the digital revolutions of the past and present. So here is my version.

The Age of Mechanical Production: 1750–1850T

The first industrial revolution begins around 1760. Steam from heated water was the primary fuel of this era. English inventor Thomas Newcomen invented the first practical steam engine in 1712. English engineer James Watt improved the steam engine and patented it in 1781. Steam engines allowed textiles factories to mass-produce raw materials such as cotton, fabric, etc.

The Age of Science and Mass Production: 1850–1914

Gasoline engines, planes, chemical fertilizer, and the assembly-line driven factories dominated this second industrial revolution.

People started to live in cities to work in factories and along with increasing urbanization came the electrical lighting, radio and telephone services. This era is truly the beginning of the modern civilization.

The Rise of Digital Technology 1969–2009

The US Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects (DARPA) led the rise of this third industrial revolution that gave birth to many critical digital technologies such as the global position systems (GPS) and what is known as the Internet.

The Rise of The Clones!

In 1981, IBM’s personal computer (PC) became available for purchase. Even though the PC arrived nearly a decade later than other personal computers, it had a profound impact on the corporate world. IBM shipped the PC with hardware components and software from different vendors. The essential software for the PC was the Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-DOS), which led to the rise of Bill Gate’s Microsoft Corporation to be the largest software company in the world.

Thankfully, IBM also published the design details of the PC, which inspired competition and the rise of often superior clones of the PC! If IBM decided to keep the PC technology to itself, the increase in generic computer hardware would have been likely slower and less standardized.

IBM PC. Credit: Google

The Big Data, Smartphone, A.I, and Robotics: Now!

From 2010 forward we are in a new industrial revolution. Thanks to the massive adoption of computer technology in every walk of our lives, we now live in the era of Big Data. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, etc. are collecting a massive amount of data about consumers all around the world. The data comes in many shapes and forms — i.e., it is not stored in a single structured data storage — hence the rise of Big Data. Big Data refers to multi-source data in both structured and unstructured sources.

The advancement of computing power is pushing the famous Moore’s Law to its limits.

Experts agree that computers should reach the physical limits of Moore’s Law at some point in the 2020s. The high temperatures of transistors eventually would make it impossible to create smaller circuits. This is because cooling down the transistors takes more energy than the amount of energy that already passes through the transistors. In a 2005 interview, Moore himself admitted that his law “can’t continue forever. It is the nature of exponential functions,” he said, “they eventually hit a wall.” — investopedia.com

The availability of Big Data — large data sets — has given rise to the use of artificial intelligence (A.I) in the last half of this decade. Now computer scientists are hard at work in building extremely sophisticated machine learning algorithms to solve many unsolvable problems of the past.

The 18th Search Engine that Could!

If you ask a high school kid anywhere in the world about how to search for information, they will tell you that you ‘google’ it. Even though Google is the 18th search engine, it became the most popular all around the world except for countries where human freedom is suppressed substantially, such as China, North Korea, etc.

Smart Phone Revolution!

The Big Data era’s primary source is the smartphone! We use smartphones all around the world to interact with online systems and thus hand over a significant amount of personal information to big companies like Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, etc.

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Social Media Lives On!

I honestly hoped that something better will come along by now. But the continued growth of the so-called social media such as Facebook, Instagram, etc. continues. People dump their time in these mediums in the name of keeping in touch with others, voicing opinions, or just getting dopamine rush.

The Robot Army is On the Way!

This is truly scary! Many American and Chinese companies are busy developing a robot army that will do our fighting against whomever we choose to label as our enemy of the month!

A Quadruped Robot. Credit: Boston Dynamics

In addition to the robot army, we will hopefully see robots used in many good scenarios where humans should no longer risk their lives.

The Drone Shot!

We also live in an era of drones. Drones take awesome ariel shots for the film, real estate, and military industries. The deadliest use of drones is in the form of a remote-control weapon is highly controversial and give rise to many ethical and legal dilemmas.

A Military Drone. Credit: ArmyTimes.com

Electric Transportations

Electric vehicles are now the trend. We have Tesla in America to thank for this trend getting worldwide traction. Tesla made electric cars fun and practical so much that just about every car manufacturer is now building their electric vehicle. Also, Tesla has introduced electric trucks!

Tesla Semi Truck. Credit Tesla

Another type of electric vehicle is on the horizon is the drone transports for humans! China is leading in space. This will be very interesting if we can finally fly from home to work! Can you imagine the air-traffic control situations?

Digital Pollution: Fake News

The ability to publish anything online through social media and pseudo-news outlets has been an enabler for many oppressed groups all around the world. At the same time, the very ability has been weaponized by the criminal minds to do personal harm to cause threats to the national security of many nations. The infamous term — Fake News — is now the talk of every social gathering around the world.

People no longer know what is real and what is fake. The quality of production of fake news videos, articles, and campaigns is so high-grade and sophisticated that the general public is left with no way to decipher the truth. We are right to be concerned. In recent years, the bad actors have demonstrated that they can manipulate public opinion and interfere with politics and elections of the most sophisticated of nations.

This ill — pollution — of the digital revolution is still unfolding, and there is no magic bullet to cure it all.

Digital Pollution. Credit: washingtonmonthly.com

EVOKNOW

EVOKNOW is a multinational e-commerce service provider and developer of the LoneTree Commerce platform.

Kabir Mohammed

Written by

In my early years, I sought answers to “how”. Now in my 40s, I find myself exploring “why.” Why not, right? https://mjkabir.com/bio | kabir@mediumauthor.com

EVOKNOW

EVOKNOW

EVOKNOW is a multinational e-commerce service provider and developer of the LoneTree Commerce platform.

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