THE FOURTH, SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL REVOLUTION IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SOCIETY’S PRODUCTIVE FORCES.
We have already seen that, so far, three revolutions in the development of productive forces of society have taken place: the hunting-technical, the agrarian-technical and industrial-technical revolutions. Today we witness the accomplishment of a new, fourth revolution in the development of productive forces – the scientific and technological revolution. Comparing the revolutions that have already taken place in process of development of productive forces, their similarities and distinctions, we can reveal some characteristic features of the scientific and technological revolution.
In process of each revolution in the development of productive forces, mechanical means of labour were introduced, became widespread and then took the dominant position in one after another branch of social production. Thus, in the course of hunting-technical revolution, mechanical means took the dominant position in hunting (and fishing) business; during the agrarian-technical revolution, mechanical means became prevalent in agricultural production; and in the course of industrial-technical revolution, mechanical means of labour began to play the leading role in industrial production (and construction).
Apparently, in process of the fourth, scientific and technological revolution, mechanical means should become widespread and then take the dominant position in a new branch of social production in which, before the revolution, this position was occupied by simple technical means. Is there such a branch in social production? Yes, there is. It is scientific production.
In the course of each of previous revolutions in the development of productive forces, a new form of technical (mechanical) means began to be used, became widespread and then took the dominant position in technics. So, during the hunting-technical revolution, the hand mechanisms became widespread and took the main position; in the course of agrarian-technical revolution, so did draught mechanisms; and, in process of industrial-technical revolution, so did machines.
Obviously, during the modern scientific and technological revolution, some new form of technics should become widely adopted and then take the dominant position among technical means. This role belongs to automatic machines.
Besides, in the course of each of the accomplished revolutions in the development of productive forces, one of previously auxiliary branches of production sphere turned to the main branch of social production while the previously leading branch shifted to the position of a secondary branch. Thus, during the hunting-technical revolution, hunting and fishing business had turned from a secondary, auxiliary to the leading, main branch of economy of ancient society; in the course of agrarian-technical revolution, the agriculture became the dominant branch of social production; in process of industrial-technical revolution, industry and construction had done the same.
Apparently, in the course of scientific and technological revolution, a similar change of branch structure of social production should take place. Industry should shift to the position of an auxiliary (secondary) branch while the place of the leading branch should be taken by a new branch that was a secondary one before the revolution. The analysis of started scientific and technological revolution leads us to the conclusion that the role of this branch is played by the scientific production. If, in the course of the first revolution in the development of productive forces, the majority of able-bodied population had gradually turned to hunters and fishers; if, in the course of the second revolution in the development of productive forces, the majority of population of ancient groups had turned to peasants; and if, in the course of the third revolution in the development of productive forces, the majority (absolute of relative) of able-bodied population had turned to industrial workers and employees; then, during the fourth revolution in the development of productive forces, the majority of population should gradually, with the development of scientific and technological revolution, shift to scientific production, become scientific labourers.
At the same time, in the course of scientific and technological revolution, the wide application of new materials destined to become the main materials for the production of various products, first of all - technical means; new methods of processing objects of labour; new kinds of energy; etc. should take place.
1. The origin of scientific and technological revolution.
We have seen above that, at the origin of hunting-technical revolution, mechanical means of labour became widespread in hunting and fishing business, as well as in military sphere and even took the dominant position in them. During the agrarian-technical revolution, the mechanical means of labour found as much wide use in agriculture and transport. The scope of their application became much wider. It expanded even more in the course of industrial-technical revolution. Industry and construction were added to already mechanised branches. In all these branches or spheres of human activity, mechanical means of labour held the dominant position by the beginning of the scientific and technological revolution. Only in the sphere of mental work, including the scientific production, as well as in accounting, control and planning, teaching and information transfer, the leading position was taken, as before, by simple technical means. It does not mean that, before the scientific and technological revolution, mechanical means in the sphere of mental labour were not used at all. They were applied, but everywhere they played a secondary role supplementing simple technical means. In the course of scientific and technological revolution, mechanical means of labour should take the leading position in the sphere of mental work – the last sphere of dominance of simple technical means, in which the scientific production comprising technical, technological, production sciences is of most importance.
What were the mechanical means that began to be used in scientific production and in the sphere of mental labour as a whole, and when did it happen? Taking into account their direct interconnection with the scientific and technological revolution, as well as the fact that, when considering the industrial-technical revolution, we did not mention mechanical computing facilities that were spread and developed to some extent then, let’s have a short look at the history of their appearance and development.
The first mechanical means of computing labour intended for performing simple mathematical calculations was constructed in 1641 (or in 1642) and improved three years later. This first mechanical means of mental labour that, though not being widely spread, created a great impression upon contemporaries and exerted a significant influence over further development of computer engineering, was invented by eighteen-year-old Blaize Pascal who later became a famous French mathematician and physicist. Although, there were attempts to create mechanical means for computing labour (for example, Shickard in 1623, Ziermans in 1640), but the first popular mechanical facility for mental work, that was to some extent spread and well-known, and affected the further development of computer engineering, was Pascal’s counter mechanism that enabled to add and subtract multi-digit numbers. Pascal’s arithmometer was later improved by a Spaniard Perejra who constructed two devices that, though being based on functional principles of Pascal’s arithmometer, were more perfect mechanisms.
In 1673, a German philosopher and mathematician G.Leibnitz created a mechanical device enabling not only to add and subtract but also to multiply and divide. Up to 1694 (maybe later) Leibnitz perfected his device, in which stepped rollers being used in many modern arithmometers were applied. Leibnitz spoke of his invention in such a way: “I was lucky to build such an arithmetic machine that differs greatly from Pascal’s machine enabling to multiply and divide huge numbers in a moment not resorting to consequential addition and subtraction” (22-70).
In XVIII and XIX centuries, a lot of various computing mechanisms were created, the most significant of which were calculating mechanical means of Gun (1770s), Jacobson (the middle of XVIII century), Thomas (1818 to 1820); so-called differential mechanical device of Charles Babbage (1822) who devoted many years of his life to the creation of computing machinery. In his letter to the president of London Royal society, he wrote about the reason impelling him to work in the field of computing machinery: “Unbearable monotonous work and tiredness at persistent repetitions of simple arithmetic operations, at first, only caused the wish and then suggested the idea of a machine able, by means of terrestrial gravity or some other motive force, to replace a man in performing one of the slowest operations of his brain” (22-112).
In 1878, P.A.Chebyshev invented a summing device with continuous transfer of decades. In 1872, in the USA, F.Baldween invented the tooth-wheel with variable number of teeth. In 1890, V.P.Odner created an arithmometer with the tooth-wheel having variable number of teeth (Odner’s wheel) that became widespread both in Russia and abroad. K.Barroughs of USA invented (in 1888) and constructed (in 1892) a summing recording mechanism with keyboard that exerted a great influence over the development of computing machinery. The keyboard entry of numbers became the most popular very soon. It began to be used both in mechanisms with Leibnitz’ roller and in those with Odner’s wheel.
At the end of XIX century, electro-mechanical computing means appeared that belonged already to machine technics, while the previous mechanical means belonged to hand mechanisms. In electro-mechanical computing means, electricity first was used mainly for electric drive. It was conditioned by the fact that it is quite tiresome to rotate the handle of arithmometer. The introduction of electric drive not only released a man from this physical work but also enabled to increase labour productivity greatly. The introduction of electric drive signified a new, machine stage in the development of computing machinery. Its further development speeded up its pace, though mechanical means, as before, played a secondary role in the sphere of mental labour being a supplement to simple technical means.
The keyboard computing machines with electric drive had quickly displaced other kinds of computing machinery in the sections of sphere of mental labour where they were used. There appeared semi-automatic and automatic machines with self-acting cancellation of keyboard, carriage shifting from digit to digit, with motive control keys for automatic execution of any operation. The high degree of mechanization and automation in electro-mechanical computing machines enabled to perform mathematic operations at relatively high speed.
There became widespread the computing-recording machines that, together with performing calculations, automatically registered input information and results on the paper; computing-text machines enabling not only to make various calculations and to print the results on the paper but also to furnish mathematical computations with printing text; computing-informational machines (tabulators), information input in which was mechanised by means of punched cards or punched tape (the tabulator was invented by G.Hallerith in 1888 in USA). Since the end of XIX century, computing machines became widespread in the sphere of mental labour, especially in scientific production and business accounting. In the first half of XX century, their application expanded even more, especially the use of more productive semi-automatic and automatic computing machines.
The automatic computing machines for performing complicated scientific and technical calculations were created in 1940s in Germany and USA. The most significant of them were constructed under the guidance of K.Zuse, G.Eiken and D.Stiebitz. These machines being the top of development of electro-mechanical means of computing labour were much more productive as compared to previous electro-mechanical means, but they were by far (some thousand times) less productive (if only the time of calculation itself is taken into consideration), than the first and, consequently, the most imperfect electronic computing machines (computers) that were created soon after. So, the automatic computing machine Z-3 of K.Zuse, that was the first ever universal automatic computing machine with programmed control (i.e., such a machine at which Ch.Babbage worked, though without success), performed an operation of addition of two numbers in 0.3 sec, and an operation of multiplication – in 4 to 5 sec. The computing machines of Eiken and Stiebitz were of nearly the same productivity.
Thus, we can see that the first mechanical means in the sphere of mental labour appeared in the middle of XVII century – long before the scientific and technological revolution. However, they did not play any important role in the development of technics up to the end of XIX century. The production of hand mechanical means of computing labour, owing to their imperfection and low productivity, was insignificant. The wide application and mass production of mechanical computation means with electric drive began only at the end of XIX century. Therefore, the mechanization of the sphere of mental labour, first of all – mechanization of scientific production, as well as accounting and control, began from that very time. So, that time – the end of XIX century – should be called the beginning, origin of the scientific and technological revolution.
But however wide the application of mechanical computing means was, they could not take the dominant position in the technics of the sphere of mental labour up to present days. The simple technical means were used as the main form in the sphere of mental labour up to the middle of XX century. For the new mechanical means to cause the technical overturn in one or another branch of social production (sphere of human activity), they, above all, are: first, to rise labour productivity sharply; second, to be economically effective. Only in this case, new mechanical means obtain such a wide application and expansion, that they gradually take the dominant position in some branch of social production. Hand mechanical and electro-mechanical computing means could not rouse a technical overturn in scientific production, the more so – in the whole sphere of mental labour, owing to, first, their low productivity and, second, their relative expensiveness; the economic effect gained in the course of their operation was, to a considerable extent, taken up during their maintenance, repair, adjustment. Up to the middle of XX century, there were no conditions, prerequisites for creation of more perfect, more productive, more economical, and, consequently, more effective computing devices, since the level of technics and technology, especially that of electric and electronic technics, was insufficiently high for this.
Thus, one of the characteristic features of the first phase, the phase of origin of scientific and technological revolution is the beginning of mechanization of scientific production on the basis of electro-mechanical (automatic, semi-automatic and non-automatic) and hand mechanical computing (and not only computing) means of scientific production. Another feature of arising the scientific and technological revolution was the appearance of a new, higher mode of technics displacing the old technical mode of social production.
In process of development of old (fourth) mode of technics that appeared during the industrial-technical revolution, the dominant position, since the structural-branch overturn, was occupied by machine technics. However, at a certain stage of development of productive forces, man, performing the function of control over the technical means (machines) and production processes, as well as doing auxiliary works, becomes a hindrance to further technical progress, subsequent increase of labour productivity in machinized production. In the course of development, perfection of machine technics, increase of power, speed; with the use of new materials, sometimes harmful for human health; new kinds of energy, for example nuclear energy; new methods of processing objects of labour; man turned from once the most progressive (owing to his universal nature) “part” or “element” of technical means to its most conservative part. As a result, there appeared a contradiction between technics and man, supplementing the former, who is unable to keep up with the development of technics. This contradiction is resolved by means of releasing man from rigid connection with machine technics, by means of further transition of working functions from man to technical means. As a result, radical changes in the development of technics took place. There appeared and became widespread a new form of technical means – automatic machines and, at the same time, a new mode of technics comprising five main forms of technical means: simple technical means, hand mechanisms, draught mechanisms, machines and automatic machines. The following should be noted. First, at the beginning of scientific and technological revolution, the dominant position in new mode of technics was taken by machine technics while automatic technics played a secondary, auxiliary role though its significance rose more and more. And, second, the significance of one of the forms of technical means in new mode of technics, namely draught mechanisms, is extremely negligible and continues to reduce, so that one can speak of utter disappearance of them in near future.
The first automatic (or, probably, it’s better to call them semi-automatic) technical means appeared long before the scientific and technological revolution. The first, simplest, primitive automatic (semi-automatic) devices included various traps for animals; self-firing tool that being installed at the animal path automatically shot an animal; self-catching net that caught fish by itself. Automatic clock, flour mill and some other technical means could be related to more complex automatic machines. These and some other automatic means were a new form of technical means, but they did not play an important role in the development of productive forces of society. They were the elements of the fifth mode of technics that appeared in the depths of earlier technical modes.
New mechanical means – automatic machines became more or less widely adopted and began to play an appreciable role by the end of XIX century. At first, automatic technics began to be widely used in the sphere of mental labour where the automatic computing devices with electric drive found their application; in textile industry where automatic spinning looms and weaving looms were used; in energetics where automatic hydroelectric power stations began to be built; and then in machine-building and metal-working industry.
Rapid development of automatic technics in machine-building began with the creation of metal-cutting machine tools – automatic machines for production of small parts: bolts, nuts, washers, etc. Then, longitudinal profiling machines – automatic devices for processing relatively long parts that demand a considerable amount of turning; profile cutting-off machines for manufacturing parts with small amount of turning; more productive multi-spindle autos; etc.
In 1930s, 17 leading machine-tool builders of the USA were engaged in production of automatic and semi-automatic machine tools. Mass production of automatic machine tools was also carried out in many other countries: Germany, Great Britain, Canada, etc.
At the same time, automatic machine tools began to be made in the Soviet Union. Since 1933, single-spindle turning-revolver rod autos were made in the USSR; since 1936, Moscow machine-tool plant named after S.Ordzhonikidze began to produce multi-spindle autos. Two thousand automatic machine tools had been built in the USSR by 1940.
Introduction of automatic machine tools, even the simplest ones without electronic computers, entailed a significant increase of labour productivity that stipulated their further development, improvement and expansion. “The rise of productivity of metal-cutting machine tools owing to the transition to automatic machines could be characterized by the following data: in 1920s, during the processing of flat surfaces in cylinder heads of motor-car engines in the USA, 162 machine tools produced 108 parts per hour. In 1940s, the same amount of work was being done already by 6 machine tools, and in 1952, one automatic broaching machine made 137 parts an hour” (4-546).
Since 1920s, together with automatic machine tools (turning, drilling, milling, grinding, press-forming, textile, etc.), automated lines appeared and became widespread. The first automated line was built in Great Britain in 1924 by Morris Motors company for machining cylinder blocks of motor-car engines. It performed 53 operations and machined 15 blocks per hour being operated by 21 workers. In 1928, the firm “A.O.Smith & Co” had built a plant for automated production of chassis frames. This plant manufactured 10 thousand frames a day (one frame – every 8 seconds). The plant was operated by 120 men; they were mainly inspectors, adjusters and servicemen. In 1929, the firm “Graham Page Motors” had built an automated line for machining cylinder blocks. Automated lines soon began to be built in all industrially developed countries.
The first automated line in the USSR was built in 1939 at Stalingrad tractor plant by the initiative of a worker I.P.Inochkin. The line consisted of five machine tools and a conveyer; it machined roller bushes for tractors. After the Second World War, automated lines began to be built especially rapidly. In 1960s, in the Soviet Union, 200 to 300 automated lines a year were put into operation. A number of automated lines were built in many other countries as well. At that, automated lines became more and more perfect, reliable, productive and effective in economic respect.
Ten years after putting the first automated line into operation, the first automatic plant in the world was built in the Soviet Union; it was operated by 9 workers and produced 3500 pistons for motor-car engines per day. At that plant, metal was automatically melted, then cast and annealed. Mouldings were automatically tested for strength and then passed to cutting-off machine. After that, blanks were directed to metal-working machines: milling, drilling, turning, grinding. The pistons made were cleaned, tinned, checked for durability of manufacture, oiled, wrapped in paper and packed into boxes. And all these operations were done by automatic machines. In 1954, a similar automatic plant was built in the USA.
Automatic plants, as well as automatic shops, automation lines and automatic machine tools became more and more spread all over the world. Their introduction enabled to sharply increase the labour productivity, quality of products, and often – effectiveness of production (first of all, to shorten pay-back periods of funds invested into their building, production).
Automatic technics found wide application not only in machine-building and not only in industry, but also in many other branches and sections of social production. It became widespread in chemical industry, in metallurgy, in agriculture, and, as we have said above, in energetics, light industry and the sphere of mental labour: scientific production, accounting, control and planning.
Thus, at the phase of origin of the fourth revolution in the development of productive forces, the two interconnected phenomena become apparent: mechanization (its initial phase) of scientific production and some other sections of the sphere of mental labour, for example, business accounting; as well as wide application and expansion in various branches of social production of a new form of technical means – automatic machines signifying the appearance of new, higher (fifth) mode of technics.
At the same time, mass introduction of automatic technics was the beginning of formation of continuously-running production. If, in the course of agrarian-technical revolution, mass production appeared, and if, during the industrial-technical revolution, precision production arose, then, in process of scientific and technological revolution, the formation of continuously-running production takes place causing far-reaching consequences. In the future, automated production will permit to sharply increase the volume of production (apart from its growth at the expense of the rise of labour productivity) owing to the continuous nature of production, namely because of the fact that automatic technics “itself” will minimize auxiliary time and correspondingly increase machine time, and, the main thing, at the expense of the fact that developed automatic technics will work uninterruptedly not only during working shift, but round the clock – 24 hours a day, including holidays, all the year round since the automatic technics needs neither dinner, sleep (unlike man), holidays, nor leaves.
2. Uprise of scientific and technological revolution.
Considering the first three revolutions in the development of productive forces we saw that technical overturn in a definite (specific for each revolution) branch of social production was preceded by technological overturn, i.e. such radical changes, transformations in production technology that the existing technological mode of production was substituted for new, more progressive one. The scientific and technological revolution, in the course of its development, also proceeds from the first phase, the phase of origin being already traversed stage of development for many countries, to the second phase, the phase of technological overturn, in process of which, the application of new materials, new methods of processing objects of labour, new kinds of energy, etc. on a large scale should take place. And the second phase should later give place to the third phase, the phase of technical overturn in scientific production and other sections of the sphere of mental labour. However, the transition of scientific and technological revolution (like any other revolution in the development of productive forces of society) from one phase of its development to another phase takes place not in such a way that first, say, the technological overturn comes to the end and then the technical overturn in scientific production begins, on completion of which, the structural-branch overturn begins, but somewhat differently: the technological overturn begins before the completion of the first phase of development of scientific and technological revolution; the technical overturn in the sphere of mental labour begins before the end on technological overturn; and, finally, the structural-branch overturn begins before the completion of technical overturn in the sphere of mental labour.
One can, though very approximately, consider that the first phase, the phase of origin of scientific and technological revolution lasted, in the most economically developed countries, from the end of XIX century to the middle of XX century. The second phase, the phase of technological overturn, began at the beginning of XX century and lasts up to the present time. And the third phase, the phase of technical overturn in the sphere of mental labour, including and first of all – in scientific production, began in 1950s.
Before the first revolution in the development of productive forces, as we have seen above, people used mainly two materials – wood and stone – for making technical means and other products. Together with these materials, ancient people, of course, used other materials as well, but their proportion was insignificant. In the course of the first revolution in the development of productive forces, ancient people began to widely apply three more materials: bone, horn and tusk. If previously primitive people used bone, horn and tusk seldom, occasionally, then now that hunting, including hunting for large animals, became everyday, systematic occupation of people, they were permitted to apply bone, horn and tusk on a large scale. And these new material became, along with old ones – wood and stone, the main materials, of which, various products, and first of all - technical means, were made. Thus, since the accomplishment of the hunting-technical revolution, ancient people began to use wood, stone, horn, bone and tusk as the main materials.
During the second revolution in the development of productive forces, there appeared new materials that began to be widely used. Those were metals and clay. Metals found their application at making implements of production and weapons, while clay – at making non-tool technics; ceramic ware, dwelling houses, etc. If new materials that appeared in process of hunting-technical revolution did not displace old materials but “peacefully co-existed” with them, then, during the agrarian-technical revolution, one can see quite an opposite picture. Of all old materials, only wood remained as a main one, while the other ones were forced out from the position of main materials. Their application reduced sharply, became insignificant. Thus, since the accomplishment of the agrarian-technical revolution, wood, metals and clay began to be used as the main materials.
Looking at the history of industrial-technical revolution, we, as before, see the appearance of new materials that began to play an important role in the development of productive forces and became the main materials. Those were alloys, concrete (reinforced), abrasive materials. With the application of alloys (of which steel was of special importance), the use of metals (copper, iron) reduced sharply, so that the latter could be referred to the main materials no more.
Thus, in process of each revolution in the development of productive forces, radical changes in the spectrum of materials used for making technical means and other products took place.
Obviously, the same should happen during the scientific and technological revolution as well. So, what materials should appear and be used as the main ones in process of technological overturn in the course of scientific and technological revolution? The answer is obvious for everyone. The new materials, that should find and have already begun to find wide application in social production during the fourth revolution in the development of productive forces, are artificial materials. At present, artificial materials found the wide application in many branches and sections of social production. “The range of demands made by modern technics of materials, is very wide. In some cases, the materials are necessary capable to stand the frost up to minus 60 to 70°C; in other cases, the materials stable under the temperatures exceeding 500°C are needed. The materials faster than metal and lighter than water are sometimes necessary. In some cases, rigid materials are needed, in others – flexible ones.
Modern technics, especially microelectronics, demands unprecedented degree of purity of source materials. There appeared problems of creation of materials of super-high strength withstanding the phenomenon of yield; materials with increased chemical stability; persistent to radiation; coatings of extra thermal and dielectric properties for cables for electric machines and power lines; etc.
Such a wide spectrum of requirements could be satisfied most fully by artificial and synthetic material, mainly by plastics, as well as composite materials” (23-185).
Among the artificial materials, widely used at present, one can point to plastics, synthetic resins, artificial fibres, synthetic detergents, synthetic fabrics, artificial diamonds, etc.
The world output of synthetic resins and plastics had risen from 1.6 million tons in 1950 to 46 million tons in 1974, i.e. almost 29 times; in particular: in the USA – from 1 to 13 million tons, in Japan – from 18 thousand to 7 million tons, in West Germany – from 84 thousand to 8.5 million tons, in the USSR – from 67 thousand to 2.5 million tons (23-187).
During the same period, the world production of artificial fibres had increased from 1.7 to 12.3 million tons; in particular, in the USSR – from 24.2 to 887 thousand tons, i.e. 36.7 times (23-188).
The above data shows that the proportion of artificial materials is still small. Suffice it to say that the world output of steel in 1973 was 697 million tons, while that of plastics and synthetic resins was 47 million tons (23-190). This, obviously, can be explained by: first, the relative expensiveness of artificial materials; second, the availability of great amount of natural materials; and, third, insufficiently high useful technological properties of artificial materials. However, the amount of available natural materials, needed for social production, reduces more and more, while their cost grows. On the contrary, the cost of artificial materials decreases slowly but steadily, while their properties are being improved. In near future, the artificial materials will be used as widely as the natural materials, and then they will become the leaders.
When considering the industrial-technical revolution we saw that, during its accomplishment, mechanical, physical and chemical methods of processing objects of labour at their transformation to labour products, were widely applied. These methods continue to be widely used during the scientific and technological revolution, but they have not remained unchanged. Not only their expansion but also their perfection took place. New mechanical, physical and chemical methods of processing objects of labour appear; their number increases especially rapidly owing to the application of electricity during the processing objects of labour.
The direct introduction of electric energy in production processes was a large achievement of mankind. In the USSR, since 1926 to 1937, the proportion of electric energy use in electric production processes with respect to its overall use in all the sections of industry had risen from 2% to 20%; ten years later, this share reached 25%. Electricity is used in processes of production of electric steel, ferroalloys, aluminium, zinc, copper, magnesium, calcium carbide, electric metal coatings, for refinement of metals, for electrolysis of solutions. The electrometallurgy appeared that enabled, already after the First World War, to produce metals and new alloys by method of decomposition and precipitation under the influence of electricity. Mastering the metal extraction from solutions of salts, including sea water, began. The extraction of aluminium from its oxide immersed into molten electrolyte, where it decomposes under the action of electricity, began to be mastered and widely used. By approximately the same electrolytic method, many non-ferrous metals, as well as hydrogen, chlorine, etc. are obtained.
In electro-chemistry, together with obtaining metal coatings, new and rare metals, thermo-resistant and other alloys by means of electrolysis, organic compounds, as well as accumulators for means of transportation are made with the aid of electro-synthesis. The electro-chemistry faces now a great task of creation of an economical, highly efficient, light and cheap accumulator able to replace the internal combustion engine by electric engine in many kinds of transport.
The application of electric energy in production processes is not confined to metallurgy and chemical industry. In machine-building, together with electric welding, a number of methods of electric treatment of parts and products is applied. These are: inductive heating in combination with mechanical processing by means of high-frequency currents; anodic-mechanical treatment of metals; electro-chemical, electric-spark and other methods of metal processing.
The method of anodic-mechanical treatment of metals was developed in 1940s in the USSR. “During the anodic-mechanical cutting, work piece (being an anode) and working instrument-electrode (for example, saw blade) are cut in circuit of low voltage (20 to 30 V), while the space between work piece and instrument is being filled with electrolyte. The film formed on the surface of work piece is being destroyed under the influence of instrument. The role of the latter is being reduced to current supply and removal of protective film. Metal is being removed as a result of electro-chemical process. Intensity of metal removal is virtually independent of its hardness, as well as of that of tool” (4-403).
The electric-spark method of metal operation was created by Soviet scientists B.R. and N.I.Lazarenko in 1943. It enables to drill holes in any metal, to grind metal and to perform other operations. “Here, metal being treated and “instrument” of machine tool (its electrode) represent as if electrodes of electric furnace. They are being approached to the distance of 1 to 3 mm, after that, powerful electric discharge in the form of electric spark of huge impact action concentrated in one point appears between them. Metal from the surface of work piece is removed by continuous impacts of sparks” (4-404).
The production of electric-spark machine tools for processing stamps, molds and cemented-carbide tools began in the USSR in 1956.
The method of heating material in high-frequency electric field of capacitor is used for drying wood (in particular for rapid dehumidification of sawn goods), as well as paper, yarn, grain; for gluing wood; for welding and pressing plastics, vulcanisation of caoutchouc, etc. Heating by means of infrared lamp, that was first applied in USA during the Second World War in bread-making, began to be used in machine-building (for example, drying varnish on car body), in light industry, construction, agriculture, food industry. Ultrasound and light beam began to be used in machine-building. “On the basis of investigations in the field of quantum physics, there appeared a new method of metal processing – light hydraulics. Ray of light interacting with liquid is able to produce tremendous pressure. An explosion takes place, as a result of which, liquid presses against material and puts it into necessary shape. At that, surface smoothness and level of accuracy are so high that parts being processed, in most cases, don’t even need further grinding and polishing.
Among the principally new means of impact onto object of labour are: electricity of high and low currents, strong magnetic fields, ultrasonic vibrations, plasma and rays of lasers, electro-chemical action, chemical solutions of high concentration” (23-198).
Thus, we can see that, during the scientific and technological revolution, there began the application of new electromechanical, electrophysical and electrochemical methods of impact onto objects of labour. However, many of these methods cannot be referred to the main methods of impact. The major part of new methods is only at the stage of mastering, their proportion is much smaller than that of methods being widely used already before the scientific and technological revolution. Therefore, one can say that the technological overturn is in the process of its accomplishment; it is far from being completed. One more consideration leads us to the same conclusion. We have seen above that, during the agrarian-technical revolution, together with mechanical methods of processing, principally new – physical methods of impact onto objects of labour began to be widely applied. In process of industrial-technical revolution, along with further improvement of mechanical and physical methods, fundamentally new – chemical methods of impact began to be widely used. One can say that, during the scientific and technological revolution, together with perfection and wide application of old methods of impact, fundamentally new methods appear. These new methods are biological or biochemical methods being at the stage of development. The significance of biological methods for future is beyond all calculation; it is tremendous. Suffice it to say that, with the help of biological methods, people, sooner or later, will master the production of artificial food, including substitute for meat, and, consequently, will cease to destruct animate nature. Since the biological methods of impact to the matter are a characteristic feature of the scientific and technological revolution, it is prematurely to speak of completion of technological overturn today, when the biological methods have not got any noticeable application and expansion.
When considering the first three revolutions in the development of productive forces, we saw that, during the accomplishment of each of them, the mastering of new kinds of energy took place. Before the agrarian-technical revolution, two kinds of energy were used on a large scale: energy of fire obtained at burning wood and muscle energy of man. In process of agrarian-technical revolution, people mastered and began to apply widely two more kinds of energy: muscle energy of animals and wind energy used in sailing fleet. Two more kinds of energy began to be used by people on a large scale during the industrial-technical revolution. Those were chemical energy of fossil combustibles (mineral fuel) – coal, oil (and oil products) and natural gas, as well as energy of rivers. In the course of industrial-technical revolution, together with these primary forms of energy, a secondary form of energy – that of heated steam – began to be widely used.
During the industrial-technical revolution, another secondary form – electrical energy – found some limited application, but it could not yet be related to the main kinds of energy. Before the scientific and technological revolution, electrical energy was used mainly for communication (telegraph, telephone) and illumination. Thus, before the scientific and technological revolution, people used: muscle energy of man, muscle energy of animals, wind energy, energy of river stream, energy of wood, and energy of mineral fuel: coal, oil and natural gas. Together with these, primary kinds of energy, energy of steam was also used. Of all these main kinds of energy, on the eve of the scientific and technological revolution, the most significant was the energy of mineral fuel. This kind of energy takes the dominant position even today; its share in the world consumption of energy resources was 90% in 1974.
So, what new kinds of energy will be used or are already used as the main ones in the course of scientific and technological revolution? These new kinds of energy that were, are and will be widely used, that have already become or will soon become the main kinds of energy, are: electrical energy (a secondary form of energy); nuclear, including thermonuclear energy; energy of terrestrial heat; energy of solar radiation (primary forms of energy). All these kinds of energy are applied even today, but their use (with the exception of electrical energy) is insignificant; this especially concerns solar energy and energy of terrestrial heat. But, without a doubt, in the course of further development of scientific and technological revolution (accomplishment of technological overturn), new kinds of energy will not only take place of the main kinds, but will also displace the kinds of energy that were widely used before the scientific and technological revolution and are used today.
If the energy of mineral fuel and water-energy having found a wide application in the course of industrial-technical revolution had significantly displaced the kinds of energy, that were widely used before – muscular power of man, muscular power of animals, wind energy and energy of wood, but had not replaced them altogether, then the new kinds of energy that will be widely used after the modern technological overturn will not only displace the old kinds of energy, but will gradually force them out (including the energy of mineral fuel and water-energy) from the place of the main kinds of energy.
Of all new kinds of energy, the electrical energy has the widest application; approximately one half of thermal energy produced is being transformed to electrical energy. So, in the USSR, in 1970, the production of thermal energy by centralized sources, being converted to electric energy, was 1507 billion kilowatt-hours. Of all primary kinds of energy, only nuclear energy (based on nuclear fission of heavy atoms) has become widely used. The amount of electrical energy produced by nuclear power stations already now is approximately on a level with that produced by hydroelectric power stations. The latter give 5.6% of world production of electrical energy (in 1974), while the production of energy by nuclear power stations is (in 1972): in Japan – 2.2%, in the USA and FRG – 3.3%, in France – 8.5%, in Great Britain – 11.1% of overall production of electrical energy. In the USSR, the production of electrical energy by nuclear power stations was: in 1970 – 0.5% (3.5 billion K.W.H.), and in 1975 – 2.35% (25 billion K.W.H.), i.e. increased 7 times for the period of 5 years (23-131).
Although the portion of nuclear energy in overall energy consumption is still insignificant, it increases year by year. As predicted by one of American magazines (in 1971), the portion of nuclear energy in total increase of capacities of American energetics will amount to: in 1971 to 1975 – 31%, in 1976 to 1980 – 41%, in 1985 to 1990 – 45%; and the share of nuclear power stations in overall energy production of the USA will reach approximately 36% by 1990. According to later forecasts of the Nuclear energy commission of the USA, the capacity of nuclear power stations in 1980 will be equal to 19.8% of total capacity of power stations of the country (23-134).
The wide application of electrical energy in social production at the beginning of XX century being a characteristic feature of scientific and technological revolution marks the origin of the technological overturn. The fact that the application of electrical energy is directly connected with the next (after the industrial-technical revolution) revolution in the development of productive forces, i.e. the scientific and technological revolution, was noticed already by K.Marx who, during a conversation with K.Liebknecht, said: “The reign of His Majesty The Steam, that had overturned the world in previous century, comes to its end; its place will be taken by immeasurably more revolutionary force – electric spark. Today the task is resolved and the consequences of this fact are beyond all calculation. The necessary consequence of economic revolution will be the political revolution, since the latter is only a reflection of the former” (K.Liebknecht. From the recollections of Marx. M. 1958, p. 6). These Marx’s words are worthy of our attention in three different respects. First, the revolutions in the development of productive forces were called by Marx economic revolutions (unlike the majority of Soviet researchers in this field), but not technical, technological, industrial or production ones.
Second, Marx called the steam engine a characteristic feature of overturn in industry (industrial overturn) that began at the second half of XVIII century: “The reign of His Majesty The Steam, that had overturned the world in previous century …”. And, third, Marx called electrical energy (electric spark) a “more revolutionary force” being a constituent part of new economic revolution (scientific and technological one), the consequence of which will be a revolution in the development of social relations (“political revolution”).
Generally speaking, the application of electricity began long before its wide industrial use. If the wide application of electrical energy in production began at the beginning of XX century, then its initial application began a century before – at the beginning of XIX century. Telegraph, that was independently invented by P.L.Shilling in Russia, Samuel Morse in the USA and Cook and Whitson in England, was the first field of application of electricity. In 1850, V.S.Jakobi created the letter-printing telegraph (teletype) that, after its further improvement, became widespread all over the world. Since the middle of XIX century, the rapid development of telegraphy began; it displaced other kinds of communication being in use before: sound, light, etc. In 1844, Morse connected Washington and Baltimore with telegraph communication; in 1852, the telegraph between London and Paris was put into operation; in 1854, the telegraph cable across the Mediterranean and the Black Seas was laid enabling the headquarters of Anglo-French-Turkish troops to communicate with Istanbul, Paris and London. In 1868, overall length of telegraph lines in England was above 25000 km.
Another, still more important means of communication with the use of electricity, was telephone that began to expand in 1870s, shortly after its invention and improvement by F.Race, A.Bell, D.Use, T.Edison, P.I.Golubitsky, and others. Telegraph and telephone, and, later, radio-telephone united the world into a single whole, since there appeared the possibility to establish a direct communication between any two points of the globe, that was of tremendous significance for the development of society.
One more field of application of electrical energy was its use for illumination. The first electric incandescent lamp was created already in 1820 by a French scientist Delarue, but it was imperfect and had not become widespread, not being able to stand competition with gas illumination that was widely used then. Only half a century later, incandescent lamps became widespread after their improvement by A.N.Lodygin (1873 in Russia), T.Edison (1879 in the USA), and Swan (1880 in England). Along with electric incandescent lamp, the arc electric lamp was for some period of time was used for illumination, but it was not widely expanded and soon was displaced by the former. However, the electric arc found its application in another field, namely for electric welding metals.
After the invention and wide expansion of telegraph, telephone and incandescent lamps, the need in electrical energy appeared. To satisfy this need, the mass production of improved electric generators, first, direct-current generators and, then, alternating current ones (generator was improved by a Belgian Z.Gramm in 1870). The invention of incandescent lamps and generators, their perfection and wide expansion led, since 1880, to building the network of electric power stations. Power stations of direct and alternating current; of single-phase, two-phase and three-phase current; of low and high voltage (to use the latter, the transformer was invented); of small and big power; thermoelectric and hydroelectric power stations were being built.
After the invention of dynamo and, then, electric engine and their mass production and wide expansion, electricity began to be used in industry and transport for setting machines in motion by means of motive mechanism (electric engine). Trams and electric locomotives appeared. In industrial production, electric engine gradually displaced the steam engine and other engines (water-wheel, internal combustion engine). By the beginning of XX century, electric engine had already replaced other mechanical engines at the advanced industrial enterprises; in the first half of the century, it replaced them almost completely in industrial production as a whole. At the beginning of XX century, there began the use of electricity in private life where, together with electric lamps, electric fans, electric vacuum cleaners, washing machines, household refrigerators began to be applied.
The great achievement in the development of electrical engineering was the invention of radio and television for needs of communication and information; later, they began to be used in production process. The first radio receiver was created by A.S.Popov in 1895. In 1896, Popov put the first radio-telephone communication into practice. Next year, he established the radio communication between “Africa” and “Europe” ships. The development of radio engineering in Western Europe was connected with the name of G.Marconi, who built an improved radio set in 1896 (or 1897) and established the radio communication across the Atlantic Ocean in 1901. Radio-telegraph was followed by radio-telephone, the development of which led to the establishment of regular broadcasting since 1920. All-around construction of radio stations and mass production of radio receivers began.
Electricity found its application both in radio and in television technique; the latter appeared simultaneously with the former. The first ever transmission of a picture over distance was implemented already in 1850; and the first operative photo-telegraph installation was built by Korn in Germany in 1907. In 1929, The British television began its operation (the first television broadcast was fulfilled by D.L.Bird in 1926). First, a series of experimental telecasts was made; since 1936, regular telecasting began. However, television became widespread only after the Second World War. The first television broadcasts in the USSR were made on April 29th, 1931; regular telecasting began in October the same year. The construction of TV centres in Moscow and Leningrad began in 1936.
Along with broadcasting and television, electrical energy found its application in cinematography, magnetic recording and reproduction (audio magnetic recorder), wireless direction finding, radio-astronomy, electronic microscopy, electronic photography, etc.
The greatest achievement in development of electrical engineering and the application of electrical energy was the direct use of the latter in technological processes of social production. Since that time, a new stage in application of electrical energy and in development of electrical engineering began. If, earlier, electrical energy was used in electro-mechanical, electro-heating and electronic technics, then now it becomes a direct “participant” of a number of production processes.
So, we can see that, since the beginning of XX century, the wide use of this new kind of secondary energy began; it found all-round application in various branches of social production.
Any modern production is simply unthinkable without electrical energy. The authors of “The History of Technics” appreciate the significance of electrical energy and electrical engineering in the development of society and its productive forces in such a way (and one cannot but agree with them): “The XX century is the century of electrification. Electrification of national economy enables to make the most full and efficient use of natural energy resources, as well as to ensure the development of mechanization and automation of production and the introduction of the most progressive production processes. Electric engineering is the base for the creation of modern automatic system of machines. Automatic production lines and single automatic units could only be created on the basis of application of perfect electric drive; the use of electrical energy for technological purposes permitted to build modern high-quality metallurgy and a number of new branches of metallurgy. Electrochemical processes were the basis of a number of the most important branches of modern chemical industry. Electrical energy, together with internal combustion engines, finds wider and wider application in railway transport and agricultural production.
In the period under consideration, completely new branches of technics, connected with new fields of application of electricity and with the use of electromagnetic oscillations, developed rapidly. It concerns, first of all, radio engineering with all its sections and electronics that has changed all the modern technics radically” (4-719).
Thus, the application, since the beginning of XX century, of new materials, new methods of impact to objects of labour and new kinds of energy that, with the further development of scientific and technological revolution, tend to embrace all the social production, to turn to the main materials, methods of impact and kinds of energy, testifies to the fact that the scientific and technological revolution is at the second phase of its development, the phase of technological overturn.
3. Maturity of scientific and technological revolution.
Technical overturn in scientific production.
If the scientific and technological revolution is at the second phase of its development, then one cannot speak of the technical overturn in the sphere of mental labour or, at least, in scientific production as of accomplished fact. But can we, at least, speak of the beginning of technical overturn?
We have seen above that each revolution in the development of productive forces, having passed the phase of technological overturn, entered the phase of technical overturn in one or several branches of social production. One could suppose that the scientific and technological revolution is also subject to the same regularity. And, on the basis of studying the regularities of hunting-technical, agrarian-technical and industrial-technical revolutions, one can speak of the regularities of development of scientific and technological revolution.
Considering the first three revolutions in the development of productive forces, we saw that each of them passed through four phases of its development: the phase of origin, during which, the beginning of mechanization of one of the branches of production sphere and, at the same time, the formation of a new, higher mode of technics replacing the old technical mode took place; the phase of technological overturn, in the course of which, wide application of new materials, new methods of impact to objects of labour, new kinds of energy, strengthening the specialization of technical means began; the phase of technical overturn in one of the branches of material production sphere, in process of which, the new mechanical means took the dominant position in this branch, as well as in some branches of non-material production; the advanced mechanization of the latter took place; and the phase of structural-branch overturn, during which, one of the secondary branches of production sphere, namely the one, in which the technical overturn took place, turned to the leading branch, while the previously main branch came to the position of a secondary branch.
However, revolutions in the development of productive forces proceed not so simply as it was shown above. Revolutions in the development of productive forces do not occur in such a way that every next phase begins the day after the completion of previous phase. This especially concerns the phases of technological and technical overturns. Though the phase of technological overturn begins long before the phase of technical overturn, the latter can begin long before the completion of the former, so that technological and technical overturns come some parts of their development simultaneously, side by side. It is quite obvious on the example of scientific and technological revolution. Though the technological overturn is still far from completion, one can already speak of the beginning of technical overturn in the sphere of mental labour, first of all – in scientific production. The same, probably, took place in the course of other revolutions in the development of productive forces, although, one cannot approach all the revolution identically. Obviously, it should be better to say that all the revolutions in the development of productive forces have both common regularities of their development and their own specific features. The task is to detect their similarities and distinctions.
So, can we speak today of the beginning of technical overturn in the sphere of mental labour? We think we can. The wide application of highly productive automatic electronic computers in scientific production and other branches of the sphere of mental labour speaks in favour of this.
The first computer in the world (ENIAC) was built at the end of 1945 in USA under the guidance of Mouchly and Eckert. Creation of this computer being an event of tremendous significance for further development of technics marked the beginning of production of computers. The scale of production, application and expansion of electronic computing and control technics in many branches of social production, first of all – in scientific production, as well as in the sphere of accounting and control, was so large that we can speak of the beginning of technical overturn in the sphere of mental labour.
The electronic computers, that rapidly became widespread in many countries of the world, first of all – in large industrial countries, such as USA, Great Britain, USSR, FRG, France, Japan, etc., since the middle of XX century, were exclusively efficient. While the best automatic pre-electronic computing machines could perform up to 4 operations of addition per second, the electronic computers based on electronic vacuum tubes made thousands and tens of thousand operations, computers based on discrete semiconductors (transistors) – hundreds of thousand and millions operations, and computers built on integrated circuits and subsystems - tens, hundreds of million and more operation per second. Although, if we take not only the time of mathematic operation itself, but the productivity of a computer as a whole, i.e. the total time for preparation and execution of task, then the difference in productivity of electronic and pre-electronic computers would be less striking, nevertheless, it is tremendous. Even in the latter case, productivity of modern computers is hundreds times higher than that of the best electro-mechanical computing machines; productivity of computers will increase more and more.
After the creation of the first computer, the activity in the field of computing technics in many countries accelerated. EDSAC computer with stored program was created in 1949 in Great Britain under the guidance of M.V.Wilks; in 1950, in the USA, EDVAC computer was built, that was much more perfect than the first computer, in particular, its performance was four times as much; in 1951, the first computer in the USSR, created under the guidance of S.A.Lebedev (Kiyev), was put into operation; the calculation of stability of behaviour of trunk transmission line Kuybyshev-Moscow was made with the help of it. In 1952, in the USSR, high-speed computer “BESM” was built; and, the following year – computer “Strela” (Arrow), that began to be produced serially.
Computers began to be manufactured in many countries: France (Gamma-E in 1951, Gamma-ZEI, Gamma-ordinator, etc.); Sweden (BESK in 1953, Fazit-EDB in 1957); Japan (Fujik in 1956, EIL MARK-SH), FRG (Zusa-22 R, Siemens-2002), Italy (ELEA-9003 and ELEA-6001); and other countries.
The major part of these and other computers was built of electronic vacuum tubes, but, since the end of 1950s, they began to be replaced by much more productive computers based on discrete semiconductors. The first serial universal transistor computers began to be made in 1958 – in USA, FRG and Japan; in 1959 – in Great Britain; in 1960 – in France and Italy; in 1961 – in USSR. Computers based on magnetic elements appeared in some countries at that time (for example, “Setun” computer was made in USSR in 1959), but they had not become widespread.
A great number of computers began to be used in many countries of the world – both capitalist and socialist, both industrial and agrarian, both large and small. The stock of computers had risen since 1959 to 1969: in USA – from 2034 to 55606, in Japan – from 11 to 4870, in FRG – from 94 to 5007, in Great Britain – from 110 to 3413, in France – from 20 to 5010, in Italy – from 16 to 3200, in BENELUX – from 25 to 1760 pcs. In 1967, the number of computers in operation in the countries of Africa was 480 pcs, in Asia (without Japan) – 675 pcs (22-252).
The wide and rapid expansion of computers was partially conditioned by the fact that they began to be used, together with the sphere of science, in other branches of production: industry, energetics, transport, agriculture, commerce, consumers services, accounting and control, etc.
The wide application of computers in these branches permits to speed up their development, to increase the rate of growth since the latter is connected with performing a great amount of calculations. For example, there are a lot of tasks in science that, being resolvable in principle, need such an amount of mathematical calculations that could not be done for years without the use of a computer. And if we try to resolve some scientific tasks with the help of electro-mechanical computing machines, it would take many centuries.
For example, L.Euler had worked on calculation of Moon’s orbit for 40 years and, as a result, could only give an approximated solution. A computer has calculated the orbits of 700 small planets of Solar system and foretold their exact positions for 10 years ahead having spent only several working days for that (1-95).
Today, not only rapid progress of scientific investigations, but also quick development of any branch of social production is directly connected with the introduction of computers in them. The more is the number of computers introduced in one or another branch, the higher is the pace of its development.
Nowadays, computers perform various works: they carry out scientific-research calculations, speeding up scientific research multiply; they manage statistical and business accounting, leading to release of many labourers that could be used in other branches; they perform planning the production, that is especially important for socialist countries with their planned economy, since the optimal planning on a country scale is impossible without application of computers; governmental planning with the use of computers saves a great deal of funds enabling national economy, especially – industry, to develop faster. Computers help us to perform production control, at that, computer can and already begins to control not only single machine tools and flow lines, but also shops, enterprises; in the future, it will control the whole branches and even, in more distant future, the whole national economy of the country.
In the USSR, the share of computer facilities in the volume of production of devices and automation means has risen 2.5 times (from 16.4% to 40.1%) during the period since 1968 to 1972. In 1972, the amount of production of computer facilities was 1.2 billion roubles. In 1973, it rose by 33% and reached 1.6 billion roubles, while the part of computer facilities in the volume of production of devices and automation means increased up to 48%. In the USA, during the same period, the share of production of civil computers and accompanying devices in the production of radio-electronic equipment increased from 17% to 34%. In 1973, the volume of production of computers reached the level of 12.9 billion dollars (22-309).
Thus, we see that, though the scientific and technological revolution is now at the second phase of its development, the phase of technological overturn, the technical overturn in the sphere of mental labour, first of all – in scientific production, connected with wide application of higly-productive automatic computers, began as well. Computers are widely used not only as computational technical means (at that, they come out as a new form of technical means-automatons), but also as controlling mechanism that, being combined with old technical means – machines, gives us the same new form of technical means – automatic machines. For example, in automatic or semi-automatic machine tool with computer, the latter performs control over the machine tool according to a preset program written at punched cards, punched tape or magnetic tape. Such machine tools with programmed numerical control represent a new form of technical means different from old ones.
The appearance, wide application and expansion of new mechanical means – automatic machines, as well as the fact that they took the dominant position among technical means in scientific production, that was previously occupied by simple technical means, are the most characteristic features of the third phase of scientific and technological revolution, the phase of technical overturn in scientific production.
So, what is the main, qualitative, fundamental distinction of new mechanical means – automatic machines, representing a new form of technics, from other technical means?
When considering various forms of technical means, we saw that, during their appearance, there appears the transition of the main working functions, being embedded in the main elements of technical means, from man to technical means. In simple technical means, only one working function is embedded – the function of direct impact to object of labour that transferred from man (man-ape) to technical means with the origin of the latter. In hand mechanisms, that appeared during the first revolution in the development of productive forces, already two working functions were incarnated: the function of direct impact to object of labour was embodied in working instrument, and the executive function – in new, second element of new technical means – working mechanism. In draught mechanisms, that occurred in process of the second revolution in the development of productive forces, three working functions were embodied: the function of direct impact to object of labour embodied in working instrument, function of operation of working instrument that was embodied in working mechanism, and the function of transfer of motive energy that was incarnated in the third element of new mechanical means – transfer mechanism. In machines, that became widespread during the third revolution in the development of productive forces, already four functions are embedded. In them, along with the above mentioned working functions, the function of setting technical means in motion or, to be simple, moving function was incarnated; it is performed by the fourth element of new technical means – engine.
Automatic technics is distinguished from other forms of technical means by the fact of embodiment of five working functions: the function of direct impact to object of labour, executive function, motive function, function of transfer of motive energy, function of control over technical means and production processes.
At that, the fifth working function – control function is performed by new element of new technical means that became widespread in the course of current, fourth revolution in the development of productive forces – controlling mechanism. In such a way, automatic machines are five-element technical means consisting of: working instrument, working mechanism (working machine), transfer mechanism, motion mechanism (machine-engine), controlling mechanism (controlling machine).
In underdeveloped, low-output automatic means, controlling mechanism came out in the form of cam, copying or similar mechanism. Such automatic machines were spread at the beginning of scientific and technological revolution, at the phase of its origin. In the advanced, highly productive automatic means, controlling mechanism comes out in the form of electronic computer. Such automatic machines become widespread at present, since the middle of XX century.
It should be noted that there is a significant distinction between the automatic means used in the sphere of mental labour and those applied, say, in industry. It is conditioned by the fact that, in the sphere of mental work, the object of labour, being transformed to labour product with the help of technical means, is not a substance, not a material (wood, metal, etc.), but information, i.e. something “non-material”. But, however great is the difference between them, it is not of fundamental, qualitative nature. These are different groups of one and the same form of technical means. Both of them perform the same working functions.
Thus, at the third phase of scientific and technological revolution, the phase of technical overturn in scientific production that began since the middle of XX century, there appears the replacement of simple technical means (counting frame, pen and pencil, slide rule, trammel, etc.) by new mechanical means – automatons from the sphere of scientific research and some other sections of the sphere of mental labour, for example, business accounting and control, statistics, etc.
4. Completion of scientific and technological revolution.
Since, at the beginning of XX century, the science (or, rather, its sections directly connected with material production, i.e. production-technical and production-technological branches of knowledge, such as heat engineering, electronics, strength of materials, thermodynamics, engineering mechanics, agrotechnics and many other ones that are joined under a generic name – scientific production) began to play a considerable and ever growing role in society and its productive forces, whereas mainly the most primitive, low-productive technical means were used previously in this field, the main of which were counting frame, pen and slide rule (though, of course, the mechanical means, such as arithmometers, electro-mechanical computing machines, were used in the sphere of mental labour as well), the automatic electronic computers found its fastest and widest application in this very branch. If, in the majority of branches of social production, the labour productivity has grown tremendously during the last millenniums in the course of development of society and its productive forces, especially in process of industrial-technical revolution and machinization of production, then in the scientific production, like in the whole sphere of mental labour, the productivity of labour, especially of labour connected with mathematical calculations, grew very slowly. But science was in need of great amount of mathematical calculations for its rapid development. Thus, there appeared an ever strengthening contradiction between the growth of needs of the sphere of mental labour and, first of all, scientific production, in performing a large volume of calculations and impossibility to satisfy these needs on basis of those low-productive means that were at the disposal of scientists and other labourers of the sphere of mental work. A reflection of this contradiction, that could not be resolved with the use of hand mechanisms (arithmometers) and machines with electro-mechanical drive, was the need in new highly-productive computational, controlling, logical, and similar automatic means able to be used in scientific investigations for speeding up the development of science in order to satisfy the needs of society, in particular, in the fields of nuclear energetics, jet aviation, astronautics, chemical industry, etc.
To satisfy these needs, various mechanical computational means were created, the top of development of which were electronic computers created in the middle of XX century that, unlike previously used technical calculation means, were remarkable for their extremely high productivity.
If mechanical means – hand mechanisms, that took the dominant position in technics during the hunting-technical revolution, found its application first of all and mainly in hunting and fishing business; if mechanical means – draught mechanisms, that took the main position in technics in the course of agrarian-technical revolution, found its fastest and widest application in agriculture; and if mechanical means – machines, that took the main position in technics in process of industrial-technical revolution, were used first of all and mostly in industrial production; then new mechanical means – automatic machines, that will inevitably take the dominant place in technics in the course of modern scientific and technological revolution, will found and already have some application first of all and most of all in scientific production.
However, the new mechanical means – automatic machines do not confine themselves to intrusion upon scientific production and even upon the whole sphere of mental labour only. Even today, they begin to find its use, though insignificant yet, in many branches and sections of social production, both in production and in non-production sphere. Without a doubt, application and expansion of automatic technics in the whole national economy will grow in the future. And just as, at the completion of industrial-technical revolution, machine technics found the widest application and expansion in agriculture, releasing labourers of this branch at the expense of sharp increase of labour productivity, at that, a considerable part of them shifted to the sphere of industry; the same way, in the last phase of scientific and technological revolution, automatic technics will get the widest use and expansion in industry, including construction, as well as in other branches of social production: agriculture, transport, trade, accounting, control and planning, teaching, gathering and storage of information, etc.; their application will be so wide that it will cause the release of the majority of labourers of these branches and their gradual transfer to scientific production. As a result of wide introduction of automatic electronic technics to all spheres of human activity with subsequent automation (first – partial, then – advanced, and, finally – complex) of the whole social production, people will gradually be released from performing non-creative labour, both physical and mental, and will find the application to their many-sided abilities in science (mainly) being occupied by creative scientific and research labour. This research labour will, first, be of more and more creative nature, since the non-creative part of labour, connected with implementation of executive, motive, managerial and other working functions, will gradually be shifted to automatic means based on computers. And, second, this scientific labour will be more and more productive, so that its productivity in some decades will not be compared with that of modern scientific labour.
Thus, in the course of completion of scientific and technological revolution, the science will concentrate the majority of population (first – relative, then – absolute) being occupied in various sections of science and scientific production. If, before the hunting-technical revolution, gatherers were the majority of population and, in the course of this revolution, this role passed on to hunters-fishers; if, in process of agrarian-technical revolution, peasants became the majority of population, and, during the industrial-technical revolution, the labourers of industry (industrial and constructional workers and employees) became such; then, during the accomplishment (completion) of scientific and technological revolution, the scientific labourers will constitute the major part of population.
Automatic technics takes the dominant position among technical means in two stages. First, automatic means take the leading place among technical means of scientific production during the third phase of scientific and technological revolution, and then automatic means will take the dominant position in the whole social production, in all spheres of human activity, that will take place in more distant future, at the last, fourth phase of scientific and technological revolution, the phase of structural-branch overturn. “Already now, lower types of automatic facilities are widespread in mechanized industry. More perfect cybernetic machines, able to control entire production complexes automatically, are rare today; they will become predominant only at the next stage of scientific and technological revolution. However, the total number of computers being used in the whole world is quite significant. If, in 1963, there were 24 thousand of them, then, in 1972, the number of computers reached 150 thousand.
Even today, cybernation penetrates the sphere of production deeply, and, by the year 2000, cybernetic machines will become a usual part of not only production equipment, but also means of transportation, trade and service” (24-76).
We have already seen that, in process of scientific and technological revolution, man is being released from performing a number of main working functions, a part of which has already transferred from man to technical means in some branches of social production before, during the previous revolutions in the development of productive forces. A question may arise: will all the working functions shift from man to new technical means in process of automation of social production, or some functions will be reserved for man even in future?
We can answer this question in such a way. Not all the functions will be transferred from people to the new technics in the course of scientific and technological revolution. Along with five main functions, that sequentially shifted from man to technical means in the course of four revolutions in the development of productive forces, man performs one more main working function – the function of creative development of technical means, production technology, etc. In fact, people, in addition to work with the help of technical means, improve the latter, invent new technical means, introduce them, perfect and change production technology: study and master new materials, new methods of impact to objects of labour, new kinds of energy, etc.; i.e. they perform the function of creative development of productive forces. This very working function – function of creative development – will be reserved for man. It will never shift from him to technical means. In process of transfer of the main working functions, man is being released from physical and non-creative labour. Creative labour continues to be human function. Together with the function of creative development of technical means, a number of auxiliary functions are reserved for man today: supervision, control, programming, repair, setup, loading, etc. Some of these functions will be passed over technical means in the course of scientific and technological revolution; another part of them will be performed by man even for some period after the completion of the fourth revolution in the development of productive forces. Transfer of auxiliary functions is not connected with the revolutions in the development of productive forces. If the main working functions transfer from man to technical means in process of revolutions in the development of productive forces, then the auxiliary working functions can shift to technics both during the revolutions and after their completion.
Thus, at the last phase of scientific and technological revolution, the phase of structural-branch overturn, scientific production will turn to the leading branch of social production, in which the majority of able-bodied population will be concentrated and the major part of overall social product will be produced, while automatic technics will take the dominant position in the new mode of technics.
5. The main characteristic features and consequences of scientific and technological revolution.
So, what is the essence of scientific and technological revolution, what are its most characteristic features distinguishing it from the first three revolutions in the development of productive forces?
As we have already seen, at a certain stage of development of society and its productive forces, there began the mass production and wide expansion of new mechanical means – automatic machines (automatons) being not only more complex, more productive and more effective than other forms of mechanical means, but also qualitatively, fundamentally different from the latter. These new technical means include a new element – controlling mechanism, the function of which, in “pre-automatic” period, was performed by man. In this new element, the function of control over technical means and production processes is embodied. Thus, new mechanical means that became widespread in the course of modern scientific and technological revolution, are five-element technical means consisting of motion, transfer, working mechanisms, working instrument and controlling mechanism.
Wide application and expansion of automatic technics signify the appearance of new, higher technical mode embracing five basic forms of technics: automatons, machines, draught mechanisms, hand mechanisms and simple technical means. This mode of technics comes to take the place of the old technical mode in process of the fourth revolution in the development of productive forces.
Automatic technical means, along with old mechanical means – hand mechanisms and machines – have the widest application in the sphere of mental labour, especially in scientific production: the mechanization of the latter takes place. The scientific production, in which automatic technics occupy the dominant position in the course of technical overturn, becomes a mechanized branch of social production.
But, at the same time, new mechanized means do not confine themselves to expansion only in scientific production: they find some (sometimes – considerable) application in all branches of social production. In the future, by the completion of scientific and technological revolution, at its last phase, they will find the widest use both in production, and in non-production spheres, displacing the other forms of technical means from there, accomplishing the automation of production (labour).
In the course of modern scientific and technological revolution, the substitution of the old technological mode of production for a new one takes place; the technological overturn is being accomplished, in the course of which, there appears the application of new main materials – artificial ones, new basic methods of impact to objects of labour: electro-mechanical, electro-physical and electro-chemical ones (and, in future, also biological methods of impact with the use of microorganisms), as well as new kinds of energy: electrical energy (a secondary form of energy), nuclear energy, and, in future, geothermal energy and the energy of sun radiation.
Together with technological and technical (in scientific production) overturns, the structural-branch one takes place; the latter being the continuation of the former is, at the same time, the final phase of scientific and technological revolution. Scientific production will turn to the leading branch of social production manufacturing the major part of aggregate social product; at that, scientific labourers will constitute the absolute majority of population.
So, the main characteristic features of modern scientific and technological revolution are:
1. Mass production, wide application and all-round expansion of new mechanical means – automatic machines. The appearance of new, higher mode of technics comprising simple technical means, hand mechanisms, draught mechanisms (that tend to disappear completely), machines and automatic means.
2. Complication of technics, appearance of five-element technical means consisting of controlling mechanism, motive, transfer, working mechanism (working machine) and working instrument (tool).
3. Transfer from man to technical means (together with functions of: direct impact to object of labour, operation of working tool, motion and transfer of motive energy) of the function of control over technical means and production processes that is embodied in new element of new mechanical means – controlling mechanism (controlling machine).
4. Wide application of mechanical means – automatic, machine and hand ones – in scientific production, mechanization of the latter. Displacement of simple technical means by mechanical means from scientific production and some other sections of the sphere of mental labour. Automatic means take the dominant position in scientific production. The latter turns to a mechanized (on the basis of automatic computers) branch of social production.
5. Appearance and wide use of new materials as the basic ones – artificial materials (plastics, chemical fibers, synthetic fabrics, etc.).
6. Origin and wide application of new, along with old, methods of impact to objects of labour: electro-mechanical, electro-physical, electro-chemical and (in the future) biological ones.
7. Mastering and wide use of new kinds of energy: electrical (secondary), nuclear (including thermo-nuclear), geothermal energy, as well as the energy of sun radiation.
8. Automation of the whole social production: both production and non-production spheres.
9. Transformation (in the future) of scientific production to the leading branch of social production, and of industry – to an auxiliary one (the second by significance, along with agriculture). Manufacture (in the future) of the major part of aggregate social labour product in scientific production. Concentration of the majority (first – relative, then – absolute) of able-bodied population of countries in the sphere of science by the completion of scientific and technological revolution. Transformation of the major part of population to scientific labourers.
One of the major consequences of scientific and technological revolution will be the transformation of Earth climate, its nature and the planet itself by man. People will not only eliminate permafrost and deserts but will also put an end to winter cold and summer heat; climate in all places of the planet will be moderate all the year round. Thanks to the scientific and technological revolution, people will liquidate droughts and heavy showers, hurricanes and floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, as well as many other unpleasant nature phenomena.
At the same time, people will not only restore the animate nature, especially the animal kingdom, that have been seriously injured in the course of the first three revolutions in the development of productive forces and continues to be damaged now, but will even widen the scale of animate nature.
People will master underground space using the geothermal energy for their purposes, underground substance - as material, and underground space itself - as the means for super-high-speed transportation.
People can create artificial mountains of enormous height, using the oceanic water, freezing it in necessary places and then using these mountains of some dozen kilometers high for needs of sports, scientific research and mastering outer space.
People will master, transform, create the animate nature and will colonize all the planets of the Solar system and establish the regular communication between them. In the future, all the Solar system will belong to man. And then, people will create artificial planets and, simultaneously, master other star-planet systems of the Galaxy.
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