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Dematerialization and the Future of Construction

Nov 15, 2018

According to a Principal Research Scientist at MIT, Andrew McAfee, we have figured out how to give ourselves more and more while taking less and less from the planet. It was predicted in 1865 that England would run out of coal within 100 years, but today Britain has upward toward 23 trillion tons of coal – enough to last for centuries. The U.S. Bureau of Mines lamented in 1914 that the U.S. total future oil production would be 5.7 billion barrels and wouldn’t last 10 years, but 100 years later it’s estimated we have 36 billion barrels still in the ground. And in 1968 Paul Ehrlich predicted hundreds of millions of people would starve in the 1970s due to an inability to produce enough food for the earth’s growing population. Yet, the number of famine victims combined from 1970 – present is less than the number of famine victims in the 1960s.

Watch this video, “Dematerialization: Humanity’s Biggest Surprise”:

dematerialization video

Dematerialization has allowed us to make better stuff using fewer materials. For instance, the weight of the average automobile has decreased 25% since the 1970s. Huge, heavy PC monitors have shrunk to lighter, flat screens. Clunky phones that once sat on a table are now pocketable. Dematerialization is accelerated by digital technology. Kevin Kelly, author of The Inevitable, predicts that by 2025 automobiles will be equipped with more bandwidth than the average home, because more time will be spent working from the automobile. That is also because of dematerialization and the applications of silicon (think less with more - less mining, less weight) increasing the car’s engine performance, braking, and safety overall while enhancing applications of various technologies 

Read about humanity’s biggest surprise - Dematerialization:

Reading the news on your personal computing devices produces up to 140 times LESS carbon dioxide than consuming a physical newspaper. Paperless data analytics alone is moving the construction industry well ahead of the resource consumption curve and onto a trajectory of dematerialization for the future.


NECA Technology – the Project for Applied and Disruptive Technology, explores the world of technology and keeps members informed of what’s happening today, and of what will be launched in the not-too-distant future.  Dr. Joey Shorter has an extensive background in education and experience in translating the work of academics into understandable, practical ideas.