Have you ever wondered how the field of engineering that deals with roads, bridges and buildings came to be called ‘civil engineering’?
Back in the 18th century, there were only two fields of engineering – military and civil. Everything unrelated to warfare was lumped into civil engineering. With time, this field was further divided into chemical, mechanical, electrical, mining, material science, production, industrial, electronics, aerospace, communication, and more recently, computer science and information technology. With time, this specialization will only increase.
As producers, we are pushed into more specialization. As consumers, we are rewarded with more diversification. Where earlier, we might have only used bridges and buildings, we have moved onto using electricity, automobiles, medicals, household chemicals, electronics, and more recently, computers and smartphones.
Innovation increases the specialization of production, along with the diversification of consumption. We could use this as a thumb-rule to evaluate new technology. Something new that either pushes us to specialize or increases our diversity as consumers will catch on. Anything that pushes us towards self-sufficiency will not.
Inspiration: How innovation works