Smart Community by Padraic Neary

It is entirely appropriate that the “Smart Community Initiative” was launched in Tubbercurry on Friday, 18th January, 2019 as it was in this small town that “Smart Economics” were made manifest in this country with the formation of The Tool and Gauge Company of Ireland Limited, in 1956. “Smart Economics” are underpinned by “Smart Technology”  and nowhere in Industry is technology smarter than in “Precision Toolmaking” where the equipment and machinery to produce everything in quantity is designed and manufactured. A century ago, Henry Ford described “toolmakers” as the “Aristocrats” of Engineering while Steve Jobs, when asked how he would like to be remembered, expressed the hope that he would be regarded as a good “Toolmaker” to the world.

Since the first tools of wood and stone were made, human progress has been defined by the quality, durability and “smartness” of the tools available at the time. The Industrial Revolution massively improved tooling and output which facilitated an eightfold increase of human population coupled with enormous enhancement of living conditions.  Over the last three decades, Computerization has lifted Technology and Precision Toolmaking” to unprecedented levels of excellence and performance, which are proudly embraced and perfected by native and international industry all over the country.

Increases in excellence and output have been enormous; so enormous that many conditions and balances which propelled growth economics through two centuries of Industrial revolution have been made redundant and reversed. These achievements have brought about the greatest and best time ever experienced by the human race. It is becoming apparent however, that failure to fully embrace and adapt to an entirely unprecedented era of “sufficiency” and reduced workload, is causing widespread uncertainty and insecurity for many who fear abandonment by the technological age. Such fear is at the heart of Brexit and increasing movement towards extreme politics all over the world.

Fifty-three years ago, Tubbercurry enthusiastically embraced “Smart Economics” of that time. It would be appropriate and very worthwhile if the newly instituted “Smart Community Initiative” could provide a similar reception for “Smart Economics” of the present. Sadly, such has not been the Global experience to date. It is no longer smart for Economists, politicians, media and communities to think that old remedies will cure newly arrived problems. Initiatives to improve education, entice investment, create new jobs and regular Government windfalls to sustain local enterprise, while very welcome in the immediate term, are in no way adequate to counter the enormous changes generated by modern technology.

Embracing new technologies successfully will require complete rethinking of economic ideology. The old rules no longer apply. How can growth economics serve a technological world that increasingly produces too much; thereby creating enormous difficulties for commerce and trade? How can employment, with all its benefits, entitlements and security, be sustained despite technology continually reducing reliance on human labour? How can confidence of prolonged income, through secure commercial activity and employment, be restored in a world that no longer guarantees either? How can masses be reassured that modern technology is not going to abandon them; and consign their futures to dependency, deprivation and despair? These are extraordinarily difficult questions that very few in positions of authority want to acknowledge. But they are questions that must be asked; they must be investigated, debated and answered adequately and quickly. Otherwise the horrific vista of the most successful smartest technology ever devised, destroying innumerable communities could become a reality.

The greatest service Tubbercurry, with its new status and “Smart Economy”  experience, could perform for the local community, for the national community and indeed for the global community, is to initiate a debate which starts the process of formulating an economic ideology which will get the very best out of the most successful technology ever devised.  Since the dawn of history, economic ideology, from its simplest to its most complex, had had to cope with and manage technologies which were never capable of producing enough. The world now need an ideology capable of coping with and managing technology that generates more than can be consumed. Where better could serious and sustained quest for satisfactory answers to the problems of success begin; other than in the birthplace of smart economies in Ireland. A community capable of doing such a service, could truly be called “really smart”.

 

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