Strategy of the greats - Moving towards IR 5.0
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The world is changing at a frightening speed. The world did not change
for 18 centuries after 1 AD with India and China owning half the world's
GDP almost throughout this period, till 1760. The first and second
industrial revolutions changed everything in two centuries thereafter
with China and India's share going down from 50 to 5 per cent during the
first and second industrial revolutions, and the West gaining where
these technologies were discovered. 1950 started the third industrial
revolution, followed by fourth industrial revolution, both communication
and digital revolutions in a globalised world connected on wire or
wireless, where it was difficult saving technologies only in the
countries where they were discovered. Further and strangely, the US and
other advanced countries chose to help China and the other countries.
The US also got convinced that it was advantageous to help China grow
fast, to counter Russia, their cold war rival. The growth pattern moved
towards the East, particularly China with the US' active and sometimes
unethical help. China grew to the US' size in GDP in record time.
changeover started with the '100 year marathon' designed by Mao, who
was the first great strategist during the last century. The Plan failed
courtesy China's own methods of implementation with the indiscipline
Red-guards and the new deal etc., leading to famines. Mao realized the
weakness of his plan and quickly decided to partner with the country
which knew how to get rich - the US, and not bothering about political
differences. The differences between the two countries were so severe
that it took Mao about 10 years of planning even to meet Nixon, an act
carried out with great political finesse - and dealt with in my book,
"Containing the China Onslaught". He could do nothing with the US
agreement, owing to its opposition both in the US and China, and it took
many years before his successor Deng, who was almost killed after the
US agreement, to start implementing it from 1980, two years after he
walked into President's house from jail. I have dealt with all the next
stages of this phenomenal growth in my book on
China, and how
Deng implemented all changes visualized by Mao. The initial resistance
to this change both in China and the US, soon vanished in the possible
profits to American corporate and the Chinese nation in the carefully
designed supply chain. Later, on US/China differences cropping up, Trump
wanted to destroy the supply chain, and announced so in 2016, but could
not implement changes in the supply chain brilliantly designed by China
with active American help, both Government and corporate. Later, so
intense was the hatred towards China due to their exploitation of
America in terms of losses of jobs, and much later due to Corona related
issues that Trump lost the elections in 2020. Trump would never have
lost the election if he completed the enquiry into the alleged source of
corona virus from the Wuhan laboratory.
Deng was the second
great strategist who implemented the American agreement from 1980 to
1987 as President, and later when his successors could not implement
after the end of Deng's 10 year term, he took over as Defence Minister,
an act of great and humble statesman ship, and helped implement the
agreement in one capacity or another till he died in 1997. He had huge
influence on Chinese politics as long as he lived.
part of the US-Chinese agreement was movement towards democracy. But the
great strategist Deng convinced the Americans through their seven
Presidents, from Nixon to Obama, that this move will destroy the Chinese
state, like it did in Russia where the state disintegrated after
Gorbachev imposed democracy. Deng later called Gorbachev an idiot for
destroying the mighty Russian empire.
I will now try to identify
the shape and size of The Fifth Industrial Revolution (IR): which is now
approaching us. It appears that the fourth industrial revolution would
also subsume "The Singularity is Near" predicted by Ray Kurzweil in his
book in 2005, and consequently the world will move towards achieving the
software of human intelligence, and reverse engineering the human
brain. This complicated process will also be driven mostly by
international corporates like in the IR 3.0 and 4.0 and not governments
as in IR 1.0 and 2.0, and will take many forms like going forward
towards Artificial Intelligence, perfecting the next revolution in
mobile/digital communication, and the super-fast and extremely
versatile, most complex 5G technology. The dependence of this technology
on private corporates will make the process very complex, the world not
having experience in enforcing regulations across different countries
and between huge and litigant corporates. Eminent
technologists/authors/think tanks have predicted that the implementation
of 5G technology will determine who moves faster in the world - the US
IR 5.0 would then have to move towards space, the next
inevitable frontier for human beings in their search for minerals
required for the new digital world, and for finding new challenges for
the extremely versatile human mind.
Before I move further, let me
also deal with the speed of change. It took 1800 years of this AD to
discover the technologies of the first and second industrial revolutions
and then gaining from them in 200 years. The third and fourth
revolutions have only taken a little more than fifty years to
commercialise these technologies which then also changed the growth
patterns, and surprisingly many of the underdeveloped third world
countries moving faster. We now move to the fifth industrial revolution
with the speed of change having multiplied many times.
that the fifth industrial revolution will move faster forward towards
the untravelled space, looking for the resources of the unknown, and
again private sector dominated. The impact of this change is so strong
that the three richest men in the world and many others are moving
strongly in this direction, and the next IR will move towards remote
travel. Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic have
already taken the huge plunge of taking personal risk of travelling to
the space in their quest for new frontiers.
Elon Musk is perhaps
the next great strategist. His job is very tough as like Bezos and
Branson, he is a private individual planning to travel farther - to the
Mars, and has announced 2024 mission for this adventure. Perhaps Elon
Musk is further planning to change the fuel of the world by moving to
solar power and saving the world from coal etc, usage and saving the
world from environmental effects of traditional fuels.
new ideas: Jeff Bezos, the richest man does not want to hold/spend his
money any longer. He took up the most dangerous mission of himself
travelling to space last month with his brother. Branson did this a few
days earlier. So exciting was this idea that their enormous riches did
not hold them back on earth. But experiencing an idea themselves was
Another richest man, Elon Musk is now moving
towards Mars himself, at a much higher speed, and through capital raised
by his company in the market and travelling in his SpaceX. Typical of
such ventures, private litigation has already started with rules of the
game still being finalised.
These are now going to be
interesting times with contours of the future still being determined. No
one can predict the future, but we can guess some, by reading the
following excerpts from the book "Elon Musk" by Ashlee Vance, and
watching individuals grow to a size bigger than nations.
Introduction: "Musk is a man behind PayPal, Tesla Motors, Spacex, and
Solar City, each of which has sent shock waves throughout business and
industry. In his lively investigative account, veteran technology
journalist Ashlee Vance offers an unprecedented look into the life and
times of Silicon Valley's most audacious businessman. Since arriving
into the US in 1992, Musk's roller coastal life has brought him grave
disappointments alongside massive successes."
2. Page 4- "Any
study of Elon Musk must begin at the HQs of SpaceX at Hawthorne,
California-a suburb of LA and a few miles from LA international airport.
Its there that visitors still find two great posters of Mars hanging
side by side on the wall leading to Musk's cubicle. The poster to the
left depicts Mars as it is today-a cold barren red orb. The poster on
the right shows a Mars with a humongous green landmass surrounded by
oceans. The planet has been heated up and transformed to suit humans.
Musk fully intends to try and make this happen. Turning humans space
colonisers is his stated life's purpose. 'I would like to die thinking
that humanity has a bright future' he said. 'If we can solve sustainable
energy and be well on our way to become a multi-planetary species with
self-sustaining civilisation on another planet-to cope with the worst
case scenario happening and extinguishing human consciousness - then',
and here he paused for a moment, 'I think that would be really good'."
3. Page 5 - If some of the things that Musk says and does sounds absurd, because on one level they very much are."
Page 5 - " Musk's ready willingness to tackle impossible things has
turned him into a deity in Silicon valley, where fellow CEO's like Page
speak of him in reverential awe, and budding entrepreneurs like to be
like Elon, just as they had been striving to mimic Steve Jobs. Silicon
valley, though operates with a warped version of reality, and outside
the confines of its shared fantasy. He's is the guy with with the
electric cars, solar panels and rocket peddling false hope. Forget Steve
Jobs. Musk is a sci-fi version of Barnum who has got extraordinarily
rich by preying on people's fear and self-hatred. Buy a Tesla. Forget
about the mess you have made of the planet for a while."
5. Page 6
- "Yet in the early part of 2012, the cynics like me had to take notice
of what Musk was actually accomplishing. His once beleaguered companies
were succeeding at unprecedented things. SpaceX flew a supply capsule
to the international space station, and brought it safely back to earth.
Tesla motors delivered the model-S, a beautiful all electric sedan that
took the automotive industry's breath away and slapped Detroit sober.
These two feats elevated Musk to the rarest heights amongst business
titans. Only Steve Jobs could claim similar achievements in two such
different industries, sometimes putting out a new Apple product and a
blockbuster Pixar movie in the same year. And yet Musk was not done."
Page 7 - "It was only after going through the front doors of SpaceX
that the grandeur of what this man had done became apparent. Musk had
built an honest to God rocket factory in the middle of LA. And this
factory was not making one rocket at a time. No. It was making many
rockets - from scratch. The factory was a giant, shared work area. Tesla
has built one of its recharging stations where LA drivers can top up
with electricity for free."
7. Page 15 - "With SpaceX, Musk is
battling the giants of the US military-industrial complex, including
Lockheed Martin and Boeing. He is also battling the nation's most
notably Russia and China - SpaceX has made a name for itself as a low
cost supplier in the industry. But that, in
and of itself, is not
really good enough to win. The space business requires dealing with a
mess of politics, backscratching and protectionism that undermines the
fundamentals of capitalism."
8. Page 15 - "SpaceX has been
testing reusable rockets that can carry payloads and land back on earth,
with precision. If the company can perfect this technology, it will
deal a devastating blow to all its competitors while establishing the US
as the world leader for taking cargo and humans to space. Its a threat
that Musk figures has earned him a lot of enemies. 'The list of people
who would not mind if I was gone is growing'. Musk said. 'My family
fears that the Russians will assassinate me."
9. Page 15 - "With
Tesla motors, Musk has tried to revamp the way cars are manufactured and
sold, while building out a worldwide fuel distribution network at the
same time. Instead of hybrids, which in Musk's lingo are suboptimal
compromises, Tesla strikes to make all electric cars that people lust
after and that push the limits of technology."
10. Page 18 -
"Tesla's recharging stations now run alongside many of the major
highways in the US, Europe and Asia and add miles of oomph back to a car
in about 20 minutes. These supercharging solar powered stations are
solar-powered and Tesla owners pay nothing to refuel."
17 - " He is the possessed genius on the grandest quest anyone has
conceived. He's less a CEO chasing riches than a general marshalling
troops to ensure victory. Where Mark Zuckerberg wants to help you share
baby photos, Musk wants to, well, save the human race from self-imposed
or accidental annihilation. The life that Musk has created to mange all
his endeavours is preposterous. Asked how he survives this schedule,
Musk said, 'I had a tough childhood, so maybe that was helpful'."
Page 22 - "Because of Musk, Americans could wake up in 10 years with
the most modern highways in the world, a transit system run by thousands
of solar charging stations and traversed by electric cars. By that time
SpaceX may well be sending up rockets everyday, taking people to dozens
of habitats and making preparations for longer trek to mars. These
advances are simultaneously difficult to fathom and seemingly inevitable
if Musk can simply buy enough time to make them work. As his former
wife, Justine puts it, 'He does what he wants, and he is relentless
about it. It is Elon's world, and the rest of us live in it'."
Page 31 - "Elon exhibited all the traits of a curious energetic tot. He
picked things up easily, and maybe like many mothers did, pegged her
son as brilliant and precocious. 'He seemed to understand things quicker
than other kids,' she said. The perplexing thing was that Elon seemed
to drift off into a trance at times people spoke to him, but nothing got
through him when he had a certain distant look in his eyes. This
happened so often that Elon's parents and doctors thought he might be
deaf. Doctors ran a series of tests on him, and elected to remove his
adrenalin glands, which can improve hearing in children, 'Well, it
did'nt change,' said his mother Maye. 'Elon's condition had far more to
do with the wiring of his brain than how his auditory system functioned.
He goes into his brain and than you just see he is another world,' Maye
said. 'He still does that. Now I just leave him because I know he is
designing a new rocket or something'."
32 - For Musk, these pensive moments were wonderful. At five or six, he
had found a way to block out the world and dedicate all his
concentration to a single task.
15. Page 33 - "Over time Musk has
ended up thinking that his brain has the equivalent of a graphic chip.
It allows him to see things out in the world, replicate them in his
mind, and imagine how they might change or behave when interacting with
other objects. 'For images and numbers, I can process their
interrelationships and algorithm relationships', Musk said.
Acceleration, momentum, kinetic energy-how those sort of things will get
affected by objects comes through very vividly. The most striking part
of Elon's character was his compulsion
(Pradip Baijal is former Chairman, TRAI, and has authored many books on Indian reforms)
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