Trends for the ’20s
Trend #3: The democratization of knowledge. One of the goals of KM is to provide the right information to the right people at the right time in order to make better decisions. In an era of growing speed and complexity, this can only be accomplished through greater openness, as opposed to the traditional approach of secretive cabals meeting behind closed doors. Think open, collaborative workspaces on a large scale.
The medical profession is one such area that would benefit. From medical schools to clinical practices, much of the field is tightly controlled by elite professional boards and councils. The obvious intent is to perform careful vetting. You certainly don’t want quack treatments going unchecked. The downside has been a steady increase in the number of medical errors over the past several decades. This has been exacerbated by an excruciatingly slow process of transferring knowledge from the laboratory to clinical practice and vice versa. Not to mention the often fierce opposition to new and innovative approaches for the treatment and prevention of disease.
We’re not advocating the elimination of review boards, licensing agencies, and the like. But we are urging the establishment of stronger links to, and greater participation from, the people closest to the problem: individual patients and their personal physicians. The same goes for education, energy, the environment, finance, law, and government. But the sheer volume of knowledge will demand an entirely new architecture, which brings us to …
Trend #4: The emergence of the cryptocosm. Coined by author George Gilder, the term cryptocosm encompasses the complete re-architecting of our entire communications infrastructure. This includes the many billions of devices comprising the Internet of Things and the immeasurable number of transactions taking place in the exponentially expanding world of online banking and commerce.
The internet is built on a stack of legacy protocols initially designed for much simpler functions such as email, and sharing files and CPU cycles. Over time, it has expanded into the commercialized, ubiquitous, and highly vulnerable leviathan it is today. As such, its architecture, underlying software, and data structures are becoming increasingly less effective in responding to the challenges associated with volume, interoperability, data integrity, and security.
Some of you may recall the dramatic shift which occurred back in the early 1990s when Sun Microsystems chief of research John Gage declared: “The network is the computer.” The next major shift, according to Silicon Valley entrepreneur Sandy Klausner, will be: “The model is the computer.” This means assembling interactive systems of all types by a core set of visual modeling constructs which captures human linguistic expressions and translates them into fully interoperable and secure machine functional representations. After many decades of failed attempts to build truly machine-readable ontologies, the future may very well rest in the hands of an architecture in which both syntactic and semantic differences are no longer an issue. For more on this revolutionary new architecture, called “Cubicon,” see speakerdeck.com/corecubist/key-innovations.
This, along with blockchain and other trust footprint-reducing technologies, has the potential for re-establishing the individual as the heart of the system. This is completely opposite to the move toward a massive, centralized, all-seeing, all-controlling entity run by the government and a few large corporations. And speaking of the individual, we come to our fifth and final trend …
Trend #5: Human and societal evolution start catching up with technology evolution. We often celebrate advances in human performance with the setting of new world records in various sporting events such as the Olympics. But these gains have been mostly incremental, sometimes measured in hundredths of a percent. For the most part, there has been nothing close to the orders-of-magnitude leaps in performance we’ve seen on the technology front. And when it comes to maximum human longevity, we’ve seen very little improvement in over 2,000 years.
But major changes are coming, aided by the growth and application of new knowledge, such as knowledge about the human microbiome and its hundreds of thousands of genes and billions of neurons outside the cranial brain. Or knowledge about epigenetics and its impact on longevity. And we are finally moving away from our fixation with searching for “magic bullet” cures for diseases and instead are focusing on identifying root conditions, causes, and decisions. This includes increased awareness of those many small, seemingly harmless dietary and lifestyle decisions which add up to a lifetime of accumulated stress and toxicity.
Growing new body parts from stem cells is fast becoming a reality. But so is activating and re-balancing the capacity of the human physiology to regenerate itself. The same goes for our entire ecosystem. Moving beyond the limitations of recycling and sustainability, regeneration represents a new stage in our societal evolution. Designing Regenerative Cultures by Daniel Christian Wahl (2016) is a great place to start.
All the technology advancement in the world will be of limited benefit if we’re not also growing on the inside. But we can’t do that effectively if we’re encumbered by disease, stress, and toxicity. By removing these systemic barriers, both inside and out, we will greatly expand human consciousness, which may produce even greater breakthroughs as our analog and digital worlds begin to work in harmony rather than in opposition.
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