Beyond the Technological Revolution


  • September 1, 2016

The blog at is designed as a forum for discussing current issues of technology, economics and policy relevant to the Beyond The Technological Revolution (BTTR) project, as well as a space to communicate the ongoing findings of the project team.

One of our aims here is to provide interpretations of current affairs employing the historical vantage point of the Great Surges model, as described in Carlota’s 2002 book, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital (Elgar). The upcoming posts will comment on issues of the day, engage in political, policy and academic debates, and review new books and articles related to our work.

As readers may have understood from the introduction to our research, the hypothesis behind BTTR is that we are now in the moment of the historical cycle when an institutional revolution is necessary. The policies that were effective for deploying mass production and mass consumption for energy-intensive living in the 20th century will not work to unleash the transformative power of the ICT revolution for sustainable living in the 21st. Yet we lack sufficient debate about these necessary changes because of the lingering ideology of the installation period, which, in the case of this revolution as in those before it, is grounded in the belief that success depends on ‘markets’ and laissez-faire policies of the State. To believe that these policies will work now is a huge misunderstanding of the current moment. Markets respond to a context – and the current policy context favours the financial casino, outdated models of production and outmoded lifestyles. At this point in the techno-economic cycle, such policies do not encourage innovation and investment in the real economy. History tells us that previously successful ideologies and institutions are not easy to change. However, it also shows that this is possible: what is needed now are innovation policies as bold and imaginative as the Keynesian ones that brought the post-WWII boom. Through studying recurrent patterns in history, our work aims to contribute towards the necessary reinvention of policy for our Age.

Given that task, another role that we see for this space is to evaluate new proposals for shaping the future. We will call attention to the bold ideas currently being put forward to reorient and reinvent our economy and our institutions (such as universal basic income, online education, the replacement of ownership with rental, taxes on global corporations, the disruptive potential of fintech, and the ‘greening’ of everything from energy to consumption), examining them in the light of the Great Surges model. And we will create thought experiments to envisage how these innovations might lead to different versions of the good life in both the advanced and developing countries.

Our hope is that this blog will eventually become a lively discussion space that will contribute to the quality of results of our research project, as well as stimulating the creation of a community of participants.

A warm welcome from Carlota and the BTTR team