Cloud Revolution Triggering Economic Boom of the Century

Book Review: Author Mark P. Mills believes cloud computing – the biggest infrastructure ever build – will power a confluence of human creativity and productivity that will spark an era of progress and prosperity.

By Michael Brenner

By Michael Brenner April 20, 2022

Amidst a global pandemic, war and severe stock market fluctuations, it can feel like the world is headed for ruin. But beneath it all,  powerful positive forces are quickly spreading across generations, businesses, governments and continents, according to author Mark P. Mills. Cloud computing – computer resources that can be scaled on-demand and made available almost anywhere – is growing rapidly and radically impacting societies and economies. 

Mills sees it as a revolution that will lead to a new era of global prosperity.  

“Cloud computing will enable the Lindbergh moment,” Mills told The Forecast, referring to Charles Lindbergh’s first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, which symbolized a bold human-technological advancement that ushered in the age of intercontinental air travel.

“Cloud is the biggest infrastructure that humanity has ever built,” Mills told The Forecast. “No infrastructure has ever been as big as the cloud.” 

This sounds hyperbolic, but Mills insists the data and anecdotes he collected indicate a real revolution is underway, one not seen last century.

“It's like an intermodal transportation system,” he said. “We use trucks, people, robots, airplanes, ships, conveyors in a sort of a seamless, invisible web gets stuff from farms and mines to factories, to products, to people. That's today’s supply chain. Well, cloud computing is the same thing.”

The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and a Roaring 2020s by Mark P. Mills.

While cloud computing helps power many aspects of global supply chains, Mills says it’s stretching human imagination, capabilities and productivity, which will significantly shift economic progress, leading to a new level of prosperity around the world.

In his book, The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and A Roaring 2020s, Mills explains the confluence of new information, new materials and new machines that are already changing the status quo. He argues that embracing automation will lead to innovation in all areas of society; big data analysis will lead to numerous scientific and medical breakthroughs; and companies need to embrace cloud computing wisely and without delay.

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“I wrote the book because I looked across all the spheres, not just what we could imagine, but what's already been built and essentially proto commercial,” he said. “We're 10 years into the biggest infrastructure ever built by humanity, and we're still building it out. Global spending on this build-out is greater than what the world's electric utilities spend on electricity production.”

The Promise of the Cloud Revolution

Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a U.S.-based think tank focused on domestic policy and urban affairs. He is a faculty fellow at Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering. He is also the general partner and co-founder of a software-centric private venture fund exclusively focused on energy and industrial innovation.

The concept of cloud computing started in the mid-1990s and moved into the business world in the 2000s. Amazon launched its Amazon Web Services and today Microsoft Azure, Alibaba and Google Cloud Platform are the top cloud service providers in a market estimated to be more than $180 Billion in 2021, according to Statista.

In his book, The Cloud Revolution, author Mills argues the cloud revolution is only just taking off and rapid innovation will converge to create a new economic boom. He predicts that historians will characterize this exploding cloud-driven market as a new "Roaring 2020s," with obvious societal parallels to the original Roaring 20s of a century ago. 

“The 1920s are very relevant,” he said. “The Lindbergh moment ignited the imagination of people and they felt excited about the future.” Lindbergh’s trans-Atlantic flight helped the U.S. leapfrog other nations considered technology leaders. 

Mills gives readers a historical and present-day lens on the world of cloud computing. Real-time examples of the cloud revolution can be found in "Cloud Wars" reports, led by Acceleration Economy co-founder and Chief Content Officer Bob Evans

"The enterprise cloud is the greatest growth market the world has ever known," Evans likes to say. 

Technologies Converge

According to Mills, the coming cloud revolution is the result of continuing advances in three key technologies: 

  • Information, powered  by the Internet of Things and analyzed using artificial intelligence technology
  • Materials, in particular, metamaterials with properties that don't exist in nature 
  • Machines, including molecular machines built with nanotechnology4 

The convergence of three technologies leads to the new cloud revolution by Mark P. Mills

These technological changes compare to the huge economic expansion that occurred in the  

20th century, with a confluence of new information technologies (telephones and radio), new materials (plastics and steel alloys), and new machines (automobiles and airplanes). 

“One of the great achievements of humanity has been the ability to create insight from nature's predations, whether it's weather or viruses,” he said. We're getting better at it. The cloud accelerates this ability.”

The Information Revolution

A variety of information technologies(IT)  and media – including social media – are generating huge amounts of data. To be usable, this data needs to be securely stored, easily accessed from any location, searched and analyzed by artificial intelligence. All these processes today are enabled by IT, which increasingly is some type of cloud computing, either on-premises data centers that operate like a private cloud or hybrid multicloud systems that use a combination of private and public cloud technologies.. 

"Information is media and analyzed, digested in the cloud. It's not [just] storing information, it's performing a service function," Mills said on Tim Benson’s illiteracy Podcast

The Materials Revolution

New and unique materials also contribute to the cloud revolution. Instead of relying mostly on natural materials, today's technology creates a new class of materials, what Mills calls computational materials. 

Mills explained in his recent interview:

"Engineers can think about properties that you would like and have a computer that's powerful enough, a supercomputer that has the basic laws, the physics, and physical chemistry around molecular atomic behavior do design engineering and testing of new chemical compounds to make things for new alloys, including new drugs and therapeutics."

So-called metamaterials will have properties that don't exist in nature. In the near future, we can expect materials that are self-cleaning, self-healing, and self-repairing, which will revolutionize fields prone to stress fractures and rapid wear. These new materials will enable engineers to create real-world products that are safer, easier to use, and last longer than any materials available today.

The Machine Revolution 

Mills predicts that the availability of more information and new materials will make possible a new machine revolution. This includes everything from large machines that run autonomously to tiny nano-sized molecular machines for use in medical procedures. 

Take, as an example, 3D printers. Today's class of 3D printers can print parts for all sorts of products and devices. There's even a giant 3D printer that prints layers of concrete for new houses and other structures. New materials and processes enabled by big data promise to expand the use of 3D printing to print parts of human organs. The ability to "grow" new organs in this fashion will transform the availability of organ transplants.

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Other machines will utilize big data and AI to provide autonomous operations unencumbered by human interaction. Think automonous trucks, self-flying delivery drones, and the like. It's all part of the coming cloud revolution.

How Cloud Technology Enables a New Economic Boom

Mills believes that this cloud revolution will enable mankind to take a giant step forward – and create a historic economic boom, where the 2020s experience an explosion of creativity and productivity similar to the 1920s.

The period from 1920 to 1929 was one of unprecedented prosperity, driven by the development of many new technologies, including the automobile, radio broadcasting, mass electrification, and new manufacturing techniques. GDP in the U.S. increased by 43% over the course of that decade, new construction almost doubled, and per-capita income increased from $6,480 to $8,016 per person. 

Mills predicts similar economic growth in the 2020s, due to the revolution enabled by cloud computing and related technologies. He says that all aspects of our lives will be affected by this economic boom, including work, health, entertainment, and education. 

Automation = Innovation

Many manual services will be automated, freeing up workers to do more productive and personally satisfying tasks and driving job growth. 

Work will continue to transform and enable workers to be more productive and free up time to pursue strategic, educational or leisure activities. This will in turn result in innovation and growth in those areas of the economy. We'll see new industries develop, such as cloud-based gaming and the metaverse, to serve peoples' evolving needs. 

Big Data = Scientific Breakthroughs

The cloud revolution is in part an information revolution. As Mills said, "You have to have a lot of information be processed in real time. And that's essentially what the cloud does." 

New technologies such as the Internet of Things, AI, and machine learning enable the collection and real-time analysis of huge amounts of data, which can lead to new scientific breakthroughs. Expect the fields of science and medicine to progress more in the next ten years than they have in fifty years prior. Thanks to the cloud revolution, research that used to take years will now be completed in a matter of days, advancing science and healthcare in ways we cannot yet imagine. 

Hear more about what Mark Mills thinks about the cloud revolution in this video by Pacific Research Institute.

Michael Brenner is a keynote speaker, author, and CEO of Marketing Insider Group. Michael has written hundreds of articles on sites such as Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Guardian and he speaks at dozens of leadership conferences each year covering topics such as marketing, leadership, technology and business strategy. Follow him @BrennerMichael

Ken Kaplan contributed to this article. He is Editor in Chief for The Forecast by Nutanix. Find him on Twitter @kenekaplan.

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