A document recently published by Princeton University Press highlighted and compared the impacts of the recent revolutions: the second industrial revolution that unfolded between 1920 and 1970 and the digital revolution that has been unfolding since 1970s. The document particularly brings out the difference between the two revolutions and why one appears to be more impactful than the other. But your guess which one it is might be wrong.

It might seem for many that digital revolution is more profound than the second industrial revolution, but nothing can be further from the truth. The cited document says that the way second industrial revolution of 1920-1970 changed the standards of living in the U.S. dwarfs what digital revolution has done for the years it has been around.

Second industrial revolution stands as more impactful

There is no doubt that the Internet, Web browsers and lately 3D printing, robots and other offshoots of digital revolution are upending many industries. However, the weight of their impacts on the living standards of people remains light many years down line compared to the rate of impact of the second industrial revolution.

Slow economic growth predicted in the digital age

Not only does the document compare the second industrial revolution and digital revolution, but it also attempts to predict the future of digital revolution. As for the future, the document says that the next quarter century will be marked by slow economic growth a kin to what was witnessed between 2004 and 2015. In the digital revolution, the period between 1994 and 2004 stands out as one that was clearly marked by more robust growth, the kind that will almost never been repeated.

Missing Moore’s Law target

Perhaps the claim of a further slow growth is given credence by the inconsistency of the famous Moore’s Law, which states that computer processing power would double every two years. That has been true for some years but not all the years. Sometimes doubling the computer processing power has taken just 14 months but in other cases it has been as long as eight years.

Therefore, comparing the impact of an economic revolution on the basis of impact on lives and rate of growth, the second industrial revolution stands somewhere above the digital revolution.