Chapter 3. Evo Devo Foresight: Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Empowerment Catalysts: 10K Folks and 10K Hours to the Next Major Positive Emergence (Hierarchical Substrate)

What is the minimum amount of “people power”, which applied in the right place (D&D technologies), and to the right human problem, might lead us to the next useful collective intelligence platform? What will that be? What is the gestational “threshold” that will take us from our current economic environment to the next one, based on a more autonomous and productive set of machine intelligences?

Our company’s startup, Foresight U, tells the D&D story for individuals and teams. Every organization today should be thinking about these topics. Books like Ismael’s Exponential Organizations (2014), Harnish’s Scaling Up (2014), Westerman’s Leading Digital (2014) McQuivey’s Digital Disruption (2013), Markova and McArthur’s Collaborative Intelligence (2015) and others listed in Chapter 14 will help you with D&D strategy.

William Rosen, in The Most Powerful Idea in the World (2010), guesstimates that it took just 10,000 critical inventors, each willing to give up 10,000 hours (10 years) of their lives (100,000 inventor-years) of typically unpaid creative work to commercialize steam power, which in turn kickstarted the Industrial Age. This work was individually risky to their careers, and did not pay off financially for many, but they were incentivized to the effort by curiosity, and the promise of future return due to the new patent laws (the Statute of Monopolies in 1624) created in Preindustrial England.

This 10K x 10K (10K ^2) estimation is an interesting guess for the minimum catalytic effort that may be, once our technological environment is at a developmental threshold, ready to be spurred over by a small number of catalysts to the next level of sociotechnical development. Are we nearing that threshold environment for the next level of machine intelligence today? Perhaps, in a few special areas. At least we seem to be getting close.

Today, continued curiosity, increasingly free and powerful digital tools, and entrepreneurship culture are spurring ongoing digital invention. A surprising number of people, even in cushy tech jobs in large companies, are trying their luck at unproven startups (if they’re smart, they’re doing this on the side). Today, any government, wealthy industrialist, or social movement that came to realize that copying life’s intelligence into technology is our next great portal path, and that focused 10,000 creative thinkers on that project, might make a new breakthrough in information technology, a self-improving learning system.

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