The Acceleration and Causes of Newly Emerging Industries
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The Acceleration and Causes of Newly Emerging Industries

Throughout history, new industries have occasionally emerged, starting off small and slowly gathering more early adopters, before becoming more widely known, and then (for many specific industries), becoming near universal on a national or international level. In this article, the authors explore how and why new industries emerge, as well as the increasing rate at which new industries are emerging in this modern information age.


At the turn of the century, the number of industries was no doubt considered to be wide, exciting and thriving. You could opt to be a baker, farmer, boxer, ventriloquist, brewer, musician, politician, lawyer and so on. What stands out, is that the technology required for all of these fields is minimal to none, from our perspective today. Today, we also feel that the number of industries in existence is thriving and exciting. However, the difference is in the rate of growth. In 1900, the most recently created industries were decades apart. If something emerged, it was a small and incremental improvement on previous technologies. Acetylene lamps superseded kerosene lamps, which had superseded candles. Each was new and often an improvement on the previous in some aspect, but ultimately not too different. The rate of change between back then and now is substantially different, because new technology begets more new technology.


The real reason new industries are created are because new technology is discovered, or is pulled by necessity (the mother of invention) out of a problematic situation, or a newly faced challenge. When the light bulb was invented, an entirely new industry appeared, that seemed at first to be a part of the existing glass industry, but in fact, it was entirely separate. Technology is responsible for setting all new industries in motion, and technology is the cause for the acceleration of new industries. The rate at which new industries are appearing now, is because technology is no longer progressing at a gradual pace. The pace of technological advancement is speeding up, and in turn, this creates new industries at an increasing rate.


The rate of change of technology is growing at an exponential rate and it is growing faster and faster. This is because of the ever-increasing size of the human population and how much time we have to research and create new technology. If there's a tiny percentage of a chance that an individual human, given food, education, and time, will create a new technology in their lifetime, consider our situation today. Technology has enabled all of those ingredients: food production is largely automated thanks to technology, education is increasingly leveraging technology, and many hours of human effort and labor have been swapped with cheap efficient alternatives, thanks to technology. Even within technology, the rate of growth is self-reinforcing: Moore's Law dictates that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. This means that the potential applications of each technological advance increase exponentially. The rate of change of technology is increasing exponentially and with it, the rate of change of new industries.

Emergence of new industries

New industries are created when there is a need and a demand that is specific enough that a person can specialise in it. For example, the rate of change of technology was slow enough that when cars were first invented, the construction of the cabin and the lamps on the car took inspiration from shipwrights (specific carpenters who build wooden ships, including the cabins) People didn’t fully realise that this was to soon be its own industry. Once that was clear, and the adoption of cars was large enough, and the demand was apparent enough, suddenly there were specific automotive upholsterers, specific electricians for cars (automotive electricians), and so on. Though, these emerged later.

Delayed effects

When Henry Ford launched the Model T Ford in 1908 , it was a spark that set the world on fire. While it was very abundantly clear that a new and exciting industry was about to upset the world of transport, what wasn’t obvious, was all the surrounding industries that were indirectly created by this new technology, It took 50 years before the industry of drive-in movies was spawned from the newfound freedom and personal space of the car (outside of the home, the local milkshake bar, and nature). New companies sprang forth to build specific speaker systems that hung onto the edge of the car doors, to enable the drive-in theater goers to hear the sound of the film that they were viewing, and to simultaneously act as a small table for the popcorn and soda. Of course, not all of these industries were long lived, but the point remains, technology has highly leveraged and difficult-to-predict side effects, causing the creation of many new industries that often take years to appear.


As the world becomes more and more familiar with the feeling of a new technology shaking up old industries, and creating new ones, we (as a society) are more agile and better equipped to take advantage of the opportunities. Those opportunities lead to new technologies, and so on. It’s an ever-accelerating process, bewildering and exciting. The rate of change is itself increasing.

Completely unpredictable

A famous writer once said, the jobs of the future would appear completely unintelligible to the people of this age. In a sense, he is right. Imagine an extremely intelligent person, who has studied the leading edge of new technology in his day. Imagine him holding a physical, tangible phone book in his hand, containing all of the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers of his day, indexed alphabetically. Now imagine him making the enormous mental leap to successfully predict the existence of not one SEO company, but thousands of companies, in fact, an entire industry of such companies, all fiercely competing to get their client’s websites before the eyes of the end consumer. Our hypothetical man would not only be disbelieved, but would be seen to be eccentric, or mad. And there is little difference between him, in his day, and us, today.


As such, it’s an incredibly exciting time to be alive, as more and more industries are created, every year (soon to be, perhaps, every month), opening the possibilities for countless new people around the world. The accelerating rate at which new industries are created is the brightest source of hope we have for the prosperity of future generations.


Industry, Technology, History, Innovation

Author(s): Coco Ming
Published at: 16 Mar 2021 01:36 GMT
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