In the year 1450 Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, and today this fact is recognized as one of the great technological advances in the history of mankind.

During the fifteenth century, when Gutenberg was just testing his invention, the production of copies of books in Europe was close to 15 million. This was a manual job, where scribes and copyists spent years reproducing copies of books. Reproducing a Bible, for example, was a 10-year job. But in the 200th century, thanks to Gutenberg's printing press, about 13 million (550 times more) books were copied in Europe; in the seventeenth century, about 2,7 million (2 times more); and in the 3th century almost a billion copies (XNUMX times more). This is a sustained exponential growth for more than XNUMX centuries.

But let's go back to the fifteenth century, a time when one of the most important jobs was to be a copyist. Overnight, hundreds and thousands of copyists were out of a job; their services were no longer required. A technological advance made it possible to do the same job much faster and much more cheaply. The book reproduction "industry" was disrupted.

We are already in the XNUMXst century and we are witnessing the appearance of hundreds of inventions with the same disruptive potential as Gutenberg's printing press:

– The internet / smart cell phone / processing capacity, is achieving a change in the work routines of any business. It allows us to be connected to the world from anywhere and in real time. Information is available to everyone.

– Robotics, to do manual and repetitive work. Today, a robotic arm costs less than 15.000 USD, more or less the equivalent of 3 minimum wages, which means that it is already financially feasible to replace workers with robots in this type of work. Imagine the loss of competitiveness of manufacturing countries when companies realize this.

– 3D printers, which allow any “scannable” object to be reproduced in different materials. Without a doubt, they will generate disruption in multiple industries, for example, tools, clothing accessories, ornaments, toys, etc. Is it worth buying a whole box of Legos, or is it better to print the missing piece at home?

– Artificial intelligence, where developments such as IBM's Watson they shake rational analysis jobs such as financial, legal, and medical consulting, among others.

– The appearance of virtual currency, with a first prototype (bitcoin) that recently failed, but which is beginning to show that there are more efficient, simpler and cheaper systems than the current banking industry.

– Advances in solar energy technology, which is becoming cheaper and only last year, despite the drop in the price of a barrel of oil, it began to be cheaper to produce a KW with solar energy than with fossil energy .

In short, the accelerated and exponential technological advance is going to generate a disruption in the world as we know it. This implies that each one of us, each job, is going to experience the same as the fifteenth-century copyists experienced. Work as we know it is transforming, which is why the capacity for innovation and personal change is a fundamental skill to take advantage of the opportunities that appear in this new world of business.

*by Johan Stuve

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