Admiral Shovel and the Toilet Roll. Current technology is on a path to fundamentally change how our society operates. Whether we can adapt to these changes remains to be seen. This is the best, most inspiring, and on point piece I’ve read this year.
New techniques and technologies are born monthly and it takes two years to get a new class through. Major new forms of media arise in less time than it takes to get a PhD.
I doubt academia will handle the digital age well. It still hasn’t accepted that this is the biggest leap since Gutenberg conjured the age of mass media with movable metal type.
Eric Newton, Knight Foundation — Do universities hear the critics of journalism education?
In Turing’s 1950 paper, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence," he argued that when we build intelligent machines, we will not be creating souls but building the mansions for the souls that God creates. When I first visited Google, right about the time it went public, I walked around and saw what they were doing and realized they were building a very large distributed AI, much as Turing had predicted. And I thought, my God, this is not Turing’s mansion—this is Turing’s cathedral. Cathedrals were built over hundreds of years by thousands of nameless people, each one carving a little corner somewhere or adding one little stone. That’s how I feel about the whole computational universe. Everybody is putting these small stones in place, incrementally creating this cathedral that no one could even imagine doing on their own.
After spending an hour signing documents this morning, including an affidavit confirming my signature is mine alone, I received a call explaining I needed to resign some documents. Why? Because my signature needed to convey my middle initial.
It took me about 15 minutes of practicing to invent a new signature. Epic.
Fundamentally disruptive services:
In the last three recoveries, however, America’s economic engine has emitted sounds we’d never heard before. The 1990 recovery took 15 months, not the typical six, to reach the prerecession peaks of economic performance. After the 2001 recession, it took 39 months to get out of the valley. And now our machine has been grinding for 60 months, trying to hit its prerecession levels – and it’s not clear whether, when or how we’re going to get there. The economic machine is out of balance and losing its horsepower. But why?
The answer is that efficiency innovations are liberating capital, and in the United States this capital is being reinvested into still more efficiency innovations. In contrast, America is generating many fewer empowering innovations than in the past. We need to reset the balance between empowering and efficiency innovations.
Clayton Christensen — A Capitalist’s Dilemma
First, the people running the old system don’t notice the change. When they do, they assume it’s minor. Then that it’s a niche. Then a fad. And by the time they understand that the world has actually changed, they’ve squandered most of the time they had to adapt.
It’s been interesting watching this unfold in music, books, newspapers, TV, but nothing has ever been as interesting to me as watching it happen in my own backyard. Higher education is now being disrupted; our MP3 is the massive open online course (or MOOC), and our Napster is Udacity, the education startup.
We have several advantages over the recording industry, of course. We are decentralized and mostly non-profit. We employ lots of smart people. We have previous examples to learn from, and our core competence is learning from the past. And armed with these advantages, we’re probably going to screw this up as badly as the music people did.
Clay Shirky – Napster, Udacity, and the Academy
Why 10 percent unemployment and worse is our future, unless we rethink our economy. Wink does the research I neglected to do.
Here’s the problem: I, like many people I know, drive too many places all alone in my car. One person in a three ton metal vehicle that could easily transport five. To move all of that mass around, with such unused, waste internal space, is an inefficient use of energy.
Here’s one solution: ad-hoc transportation. Capitalizing on the triple convergence between location-aware devices (iPhone 2 on June 9th, anyone?), social networking (Facebook, Twitter, et al), and an absurd number of nearly empty cars on the road (suburban America), the goal should be to connect people with people who are pointed in the same destination.
Many of us, indeed, have always been quite happy to occasionally log off and appreciate stretches of boredom or ponder printed books — even though books themselves were regarded as a deleterious distraction as they became more prevalent. But our immense self-satisfaction in disconnection is new. How proud of ourselves we are for fighting against the long reach of mobile and social technologies! One of our new hobbies is patting ourselves on the back by demonstrating how much we don’t go on Facebook. People boast about not having a profile. We have started to congratulate ourselves for keeping our phones in our pockets and fetishizing the offline as something more real to be nostalgic for. While the offline is said to be increasingly difficult to access, it is simultaneously easily obtained — if, of course, you are the “right” type of person.
Nathan Jurgenson — The IRL Fetish