Customers craved for diversification, and the same is likely to hold true in the replacement of the combustion engine. Boris Liedtke looks at the future of our transportation system and argues that given our personal desire for individual solutions, the outcome is predestined to require us all to develop and accept the need for diversified transportation technologies.
After the incredible success of the combustion engine and its conquest of our way of life throughout the twentieth century, the technology has come under severe scrutiny as we enter the next millennium. During this unprecedented development, cities have been transformed from almost isolated islands of civilisation in a sea of natural wilderness to well oiled cogs in an ever more connected world. Asphalt roads cover not only endless amount of living space to attempt to smoothen our daily commutes by privately owned cars but also connect virtually every megacity, city, town, village or isolated dwelling in the civilised world. Nowadays in the U.S.A., over 86% of transportation is accounted for by passenger vehicles, motorcycles and trucks. The success of the combustion engine has made modern civilisation with all its comforts dependent on its existence and its logistic supply chains. There is no turning back from this historic earth shattering transformation of civilisation.
With this success came unprecedented new challenges. An objective glance at our modern cities today is sufficient to highlight the problems and limitations of the combustion engine. Humanity’s technological progress is based on the principle of escalation. As we invent technologies to solve problems, we give rise to new challenges. The more technology we have at our disposal, the more technology we require to deal with the consequences of our progress. Sophisticated food production has led us to face the challenges from overpopulation. Improvement in health care has caused us to face a financial under-provision for retirement funding. Man’s scientific evolution is less a linear progression of knowledge but rather a series of emergency measures to deal with the disastrous consequences of the previous cycle of inventions. We are self-condemned to the permanent rat race against the consequences of our own creativity. We progress but only towards an ever-larger need for progress. Yet to stop that progress or even to consider putting a halt to it is ultimately to doom humanity.
About the Author
Dr Boris N. Liedtke is the Distinguished Executive Fellow at INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute and has over twenty years experience in the financial sector. He was the CEO of the largest bank by assets in Luxembourg and board member for Operations at the largest German fund manager. He is author of numerous articles on finance and trade as well as having received his PhD from the London School of Economics for the publication of Embracing a Dictatorship by MacMillan.