Q&A

Carlota Perez: Self-Centered Tech Industry Needs to Wake Up

Carlota Perez, a London School of Economics professor who focuses on technology and economic development, has many admirers in the tech industry. But she disagrees with the popular Silicon Valley belief that we’re at the beginning of a new golden age of prosperity driven by technological innovation, though she understands why that belief persists.

Luminaries including Marc Andreessen and Fred Wilson have publicly endorsed Ms. Perez’s theorem that the modern world has experienced five “technological revolutions” over the last 250 years: the industrial revolution and canal-building, starting in the late 1700s; the steam engine, railways and iron of the mid-1800s; structural engineering based on cheap steel in the late 1800s; the automobile, radio and airplanes of the early 20th Century; and information technology, beginning with chips and other “microelectronics,” in the early 1970s.

These revolutions, Ms. Perez says, have followed a similar “S-curve” pattern. 

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Paying taxes is probably the most important. Pushing the smart grid. Do it yourselves. Telecom companies don’t give proper Internet to the countryside. Towns in rural areas need to have fantastic Internet. We’re not going to solve the education problem. How could the U.S. accept to be in the league with some African countries? How could that be? Why doesn’t the ICT start worrying about the people who are going to be their workers [and customers]?


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