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Abundance and Technology

20 June 2011

What caught our attention recently was how despite the acknowledgement that technology is creating rapid change, the commentators still want to predict the future. It very difficult to deal with change and ambiguity, but the sooner we accept that things will be changing at a fast pace and focus on problem solving, the better it will be for the economy. Some points that were raised by the conversation.

  1. It is a waste of time to try and ‘predict’ the future and in some sense, to even talk about it. Technology is helping us create change at a speed that we have never seen before in our human evolution. It helps connect, mobilise, and spread knowledge faster and more directly; it is allowing people to achieve things in enterprise and social innovation that were not possible even three years ago. Just look at companies like KickStarter or movements like Open Knowledge to see how much technology enables change. Therefore it is naive to think that we have any idea how our economy will evolve or that we have any control over it.
  2. What we need are better brains, brains that are able to cope with change and be better problem solvers. In this regard we agree with Michio: we do need more scientists and engineers. Going one step further, we need to encourage people to think like scientists; this means creating hypothesis, experimenting, and then delivering innovation.
  3. The reason we have not created a culture of engineers and scientists in the United States is because usually, thought does not lead to gratification. We are all wired to want success for what we do; gratification sets our dopamine circuit system in motion. There has to be more economic support for new thinkers and innovators.
  4. Lastly, technology will open up new avenues for the economy that will be much more equal and abundant. We need only look at what is happening in open source software to see on a micro level how new economies are emerging. This in turn will evolve more autonomy and empowerment leading us to amazing new innovations.