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Digital technology and social change: the digital transformation of society from a historical perspective

Authors
  • Hilbert, Martin
Type
Published Article
Journal
Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience
Publisher
Les Laboratoires Servier
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2020
Volume
22
Issue
2
Pages
189–194
Identifiers
DOI: 10.31887/DCNS.2020.22.2/mhilbert
PMID: 32699519
PMCID: PMC7366943
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

Digital technology, including its omnipresent connectedness and its powerful artificial intelligence, is the most recent long wave of humanity’s socioeconomic evolution. The first technological revolutions go all the way back to the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages, when the transformation of material was the driving force in the Schumpeterian process of creative destruction. A second metaparadigm of societal modernization was dedicated to the transformation of energy (aka the “industrial revolutions”), including water, steam, electric, and combustion power. The current metaparadigm focuses on the transformation of information. Less than 1% of the world's technologically stored information was in digital format in the late 1980s, surpassing more than 99% by 2012. Every 2.5 to 3 years, humanity is able to store more information than since the beginning of civilization. The current age focuses on algorithms that automate the conversion of data into actionable knowledge. This article reviews the underlying theoretical framework and some accompanying data from the perspective of innovation theory.

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