Ephemeralization (credit Buckminster Fuller: spaceship Earth, geodesic dome, etc. no idea?) refers to the idea that technological advancement leads to an ability to do more with less, until you can do anything with virtually nothing. The historical record actually shows that when we introduce the best available technology it actually leads to more production, less environmental impact, and more job creation. Indeed “we prefer to invent new jobs rather than trying harder and inventing a new system that wouldn’t require everybody to have a job”; it would be much better if “the purpose of life is to have robots steal your job”.
The most obvious example of this principle is the reduction in size and cost together with the increasing in performance of electronic (informatics) devices. Ephemeralization, of course together with the Moore law is what allows us today to have attached to our key ring a memory storage device that some 50-60 years ago was the size of an entire room.
Digital technology is the showcase (mainly because it is pretty fast in growing) where the principle applies. But we (homo sapiens) have application of Ephemeralization in each field of our life.
The first bridge was a huge amount of rocks placed in a river to span the divide from one bank to another. When the rocks stopped the flow of water, early humans put a hole in the wall of rocks, leading to fewer materials to span the same divide (i.e. wall minus rocks that occupied hole). When those rocks fell down, they optimized the opening by creating an arch (still fewer rocks). People refined the arch until it required fewer and fewer materials to support a bridge’s weight. There was a continual refinement and evolution up to the modern suspension bridge, which uses a fraction of the relative materials of the stone-filled river, yet is infinitely more capable of spanning divides and bearing weight.
And this is only the story so far. Future might make use of invisible links, tethers, or what?
In practice we have the inclination of increase our control over the resources in order to save work in future or increase our style of life. Sharing economy, crowdsourcing, modularity, multifunctional stuffs are only applications of this principle. We need (and want) to maximize the exploitation of resources and achieve the most with the minimum.
The direction we should walk along. And for once it is what we are actually doing.
PS. And of course business is not waiting. Innovation and sustainability are two magic word in the nowadays market.
No one wants your products. They want the benefits those products deliver.
I deeply agree with such a sentence. dMass is actually a company “offering new ways of delivering value while reducing dependence on at-risk-resources. dMASS is tracking these innovations. We connect innovators with industry leaders and investors committed to changing the way we use resources to deliver value and benefits in the global economy”.
The thin difference between game-changer and word-sellers.
Portable energy without batteries. Leather without cows. Light without light bulbs.
Dreams for the time being but enough challenging to pave the way for work and research.