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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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