Chapter 11. Futurepedia – A Platform for Crowd Foresight

5. Cognitive Technologies Overview

Main concept: Cognitive technologies, aided by accelerating IT and nanotech, will increasingly permeate our environment (smart things) and educate and empower the global workforce, reducing digital, education, and earning divides. Politics and culture will be the primary barriers to better cognition and more evidence-based behaviors, until groupnets and sims, post 2030, become even more important contributors to self-conception than politics and culture.

Leader’s challenge: Aiding Personal and Group Differentiation and Development.

Summary sentence:

“Groupnets (group “self”), personal sims (digital “self”), and smart environments will reshape our conceptions of self.”

Area topics:

Individuation/Initiative and Smart Environments. Freedom-, risk-, and learning-permissive culture key to individuation. 2020’s Semantic Web (smart environment) helps us find our useful uniqueness, our “difference that makes a difference.”

Education and Specialization. Specialization, Trade, and Automation (STA) are the key contributors to the growth of wealth (Adam Smith, Hayek). 24/7 digital “teacherless education” will allow vast new specialization and trade. Wearables, augmented reality. Google ed. Global English. Civics. Finland became #1 in OECD in STEM and Innovation, using a 50% state-directed, 50% student-freedom model.  Free Ed. & HR platforms of 2020’s, built by business, not govt, will drive, pay for these changes. Remember 1998-1999, when an MCSE was worth more than a BS degree? That will return. Expect LinkedIn, G+, Facebook as skill certifiers.

Personal Development, Ethics, Higher Purpose. Metrics of individual and social progress will become better quantified and visualized. Different groups, cultures, religions, have unique measures, yet they have many commonalities and convergences. Technology assessment and ethics, measuring whether tech ennobles us or debases us, become key. Consider European vs. US values toward sustainability and privacy, there is more of each in Europe, by political choice. Expect more awareness of others, planet. Sustainability, religious ecumenicalism, political moderation continue to grow.

Social Networks and Groupnets. Groupnets (GNs): 5-150 cognitively diverse people, intimately teleconnected 24/7, outperforming the ungrouped. Vast new productivity, activism. FB, Twitter, G+, Arab spring just a warmup to GNs. Folks will use GNs for entertainment, education, productivity, and activism/lobbying, regulated by both corps and government.

Human Performance, Cognition and Sims. Personal sims, circa 2020, are our digital agents and servants. Eventually our “digital self.” Conversational web, wearables, lifelogs, quantified self will allow new levels of evidence-based, networked, and gamified/incentivized behavior. Our biology isn’t accelerative, but our Twin is. Productivity of our biology and our agents together keeps us competitive, in an accelerating world. Will you run a lifelog? Will you let your sim augment your conversations w/ memeshows? To suggest words during a “senior moment”? To keep learning and interacting with loved ones after your death? These will be important social choices for us, much sooner than we think.

Video: Finland Phenomenon, 2011. Books: Free Culture, 2005; Cognitive Surplus, 2011; Subliminal, Mlodinow, 2013.

Leadership Questions:

  1. What are your cognitive technologies research, acquisition, R&D, hiring, training, measuring, & mgmt strategies?
  2. What key disruptions or threats must you anticipate from accelerating web education and tech augmentation?
  3. What problems could be addressed and opportunities taken if you had much better cognitive technologies?
  4. How can you get measurably more of the most valuable cognitive capabilities, at an efficient ROI?