There is a growing consensus that there have been various phases of industrial revolution, dictated largely upon energy production and consumption. These can be broken down as follows:
- Pre-Industrial Age. This period corresponds roughly with Neolithic Cultures where society was primarily tribal and nomadic. Energy was primarily human muscle and the burning of wood. This period extended through most of human existence to about six thousand years ago. (before 4000 BC)
- First Industrial Age. This period coincided with the advent of agriculture and the use of wood and charcoal based fire to smelt metals and create ceramics. This covers the Bronze and Iron Ages, which also saw the rise of civilization, the increasing reliance on domestication of animals and plants, the emergence of writing, militarization and religion. (4000 BC - 1600 AD)
- Second Industrial Age. This period is often the one referred to when talking about The Industrial Age. It saw the increasing use of coal-based steam engines, the emergence of the scientific method, the rise of a mercantile class (and the decline of feudalism), the establishment of the nation state, and the increasing emancipation of people. (1600 AD- 1870 AD)
- Third Industrial Age. This period saw the emergence of the petroleum economy, the dramatic rise of the population, and the emergence of a global economy. It saw a dramatic increase in the understanding of how the universe works, as well as the institution of electrification and early space flight. We are technically still within the third industrial revolution, though the shape of a fourth industrial age is beginning to emerge: (1870 AD - 2040 AD)
- Fourth Industrial Age. This involves the synthesis and application of the research made during the the third industrial revolution. It will be marked by several key areas - the direct synthesis of energy through fusion and a blend of other technologies. It will see the gradual phasing out of hydrocarbon based energy production and utilization. Intelligent automation will increasingly bring both context awareness and autonomy to everything from cars to buildings to factories and entertainment. It will also see the commercialization of space, the breakdown of national borders, and the ensuing complexity that happens when social paradigms change. (2040 onward). Much of the focus of this site is on Fourth Industrial Age concepts and technologies.