Wharton’s Jeremy Rifkin on the Internet of Things–Its Own Force for Creative Disruption

Jeremy Rifkin 2009 by Stephan Röhl.jpg

Jeremy Rifkin is an economic and social theorist, writer, public speaker, political advisor and activist. Since 1994, he has been a senior lecturer at the Wharton School’s Executive Education Program where he instructs CEOs and senior management on transitioning their business operations into sustainable Third Industrial Revolution economies.

There is no dearth of prognostication on the importance or indeed impact of the Internet and with that the smartphone, big data, or The Internet of Things on our daily lives.  Now, experts in business and economics are stepping forward to suggest that they may altar the very system that spawned the Internet and its features and apps–capitalism.

According to Wharton Executive Education senior lecturer Jeremy Rifkin, The Zero Magical Cost Society, the Internet of Things is so impacting the marginal costs of doing business (i.e., the costs of capitalism) that the capitalist system itself is likely to morph into a role as “an aggregator of network services and solutions, allowing it to thrive as a powerful niche in the coming era,” he says.

Rifkin points to  the impact of more than 11 billion sensors that are attached to natural resources, production lines, the electrical grid, logistics networks and myriad other built and unbuilt assets.  By 2020, Rifkin says, there will be at least 50 billion sensors that will connect us and the Internet.  These Internet  connections, and the social collaboration that results (here is Shirky again), will accelerate efficiency and lower the marginal cost of producing an sharing a wide range of products and services to near zero.

Rifkin points to the revolution in building sensors and their impact on energy costs because of the fact that 37 billion buildings in the U.S. have sensors and meters that will allow the most efficient use of electricity and other energy sources in real time.  Homes are next, he says.

Huge economic savings are expected by the Internet of Things.  Cisco forecasts that by 2022, private sector productivity gains will exceed $14 trillion and GE believes productivity advances could affect half the world by 2025.

Whether or not these estimates come true in the scale or time frame they are predicted, it is clear that change is ‘a comin’ and the Internet of Things will be part of that change platform.  We live in a world increasingly interdependent and collaborative with hopefully a recognized and recognizable global commons.

Here’s Jeremy Rifkin’s piece in full:


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