Innovation can both create and destroy companies. TechRepublic’s Dan Patterson met with physicist Isaac Arthur to discuss the history of disruptive technology and how it has shaped society.

One of the most prominent examples of disruptive technology starts with the light bulb. This innovation allowed businesses to stay open 24/7, and extended work shifts until after dark. Another piece of disruptive tech includes the internal combustion engine. Not only did this creation allow people to travel to work from miles away, it also required power grids, highway systems, and a large amount of policy to be put in place.

These types of technologies that are implemented early on have impacts that last for decades. “If you choose one of these paths early on, it can really shape how the technology ends up impacting you,” Arthur said.

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One of the key lessons we can learn from looking at the history of disruptive tech is that “you never want to jump too fast on new technology,” Arthur said. “If you move too quick on these, you eliminate some of the other alternative decisions.”

Disruptive technologies are fascinating to watch because they can change or destroy existing markets, said Arthur. “Once you pick a given technology path, the existing technology keeps getting improved, or refined on its way to the market.”

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