My latest book, entitled “Digital Enlightenment Now!”, will be available in a few days, and to celebrate, I wanted to share a few basic ideas contained therein. My friend and co-author Ossi Urchs, who sadly didn’t live to see publication of the English version (he died last fall from cancer) thought that every good book about philosophy and society should start with a list of short theses. He was German, so I suppose Martin Luther was very much in his mind…
Anyway, we finally came up with ten of them, and instead of nailing them to a church door I propose to publish them here as a kind of loose series which hopefully will lead to an open debate about their possible merits or weaknesses. So here goes:
Thesis 1: Everything that can be digitalized will be digitalized. Everything that can be connected will be. And that changes everything!
The massive trend towards digitalization, as shown in our introduction, has economic root that reach back to something called, rather confusingly, “Moore’s Law”. What Gordon E. Moore, one of the founders of Intel Corporation, actually described back in 1965 was less a law than a hypothesis, albeit one that has remained valid to this day.
Moore’s “law” simply describes the tendency of digital gadgets to double their capacity approximately every two years. This ability to sustain growth that is exponential (a phenomenon that we will hear more about later) also leads to the halving of costs for digital computing power approximately every two years.
More than any other factor such as the elimination of variable costs, this causes priced for digital products to decline rapidly. This fall not only effects microprocessors and digital storage media, but even everyday devices such as refrigerators and washing machines, TV sets and telephones, since they are all loaded with microchips nowadays. Indirectly this also influences the logistical distribution systems and other services these markets depend upon, since they too are increasingly being managed digitally.
As always when markets suffer a massive fall in prices vendors try to find ways to “cut out the middlemen” by reaching out directly to their potential customers. Global connectivity is the perfect way for them to interact with consumers around the world, so more and more manufacturers, dealers, markets and customers are “going digital” to a degree no one could have imagined in their wildest dreams just a few years back. Together, the ongoing digitalization of the economy and the global networks connecting markets and buyers have fundamentally changed the way the markets – and societies – work.