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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Technology Changes The Art Of The Possible

(Via Knowledge@Emory) Being able to read the signs and able to read the signs and stay ahead of the curve is an invaluable skill for business professionals. Benn Konsynski,a well known expert on the role of information technologies that transform enterprise and market practice, has turned his future forecasting skill into an art. Recently he spoke to a public forum in Atlanta as part of Emory University’s Great Teachers Lecture Series.
Key points in the speech:
-Science is the study of what we can know, while magic is about shaping nature to our will. Figuring out the way magic works and replicating it is the way that technology is conceived - technology is magic revealed or understood. "Magic brings the will, aspiration and purpose to conceive technology."
- Information, relates to commerce and commerce practice. The first is that information is the only commodity you can give away and still have, and second, that information is imminently recombinant. It can be ripped apart, elementalized , unbundled and recombined in new ways.
- CEOs who study history in general, and specifically the history of their company and market, have a head start in tracking what is to come. Those who try to see ahead without looking back have a poor sense of what is possibleand miss out on spotting trajectories from key events.
Assumptions to be challenged in future thinking.
- First—the myth of total revolution. "During second world war days, nuclear technology was expected to impact everything . The same hype structure killed the early stages of the Internet," he suggests. Emerging technologies need to be carefully evaluated as to which changes are viable and which are not.
- The second myth is the myth of social continuity, meaning we assume nothing is going to change. Streetlights and Air travel prove that small initiatives can become significantly big. Perceptions that narrow or limit the expectations of emerging technologies need to be challenged.
-The third myth is that of the technological fix. "Focusing on a solution to a societal ill or perceived problem limits the prospects of understanding the strength and opportunity in a particular technology," warns Konsynski, who relishes the implications of the "boiled frog" story.
Some of his thoughts about what lies ahead:
Goods will be delivered to drop points on the routes you drive, because the house is less safe and work is not convenient. Strip malls may become waypoints for pickups.
Sensor and identity technologies will be everywhere. Nanotech sensors will testify to the integrity of pharmaceutical packaging and alert us to tampering, transport schedules and mishandling.
Goods may be tracked from the second they are created until the second they are destroyed. Rules of “ownership” may change. Networks of "things" form where inanimate objects can communicate. When they disengage the network ceases to exist.
RFID (radio frequency identification products) is only the tip of the iceberg. Motes, smart dust and mesh net technologies, which are emerging right now, will proliferate and have a profound impact down the road.
The small and the many will dominate the large and the few. This is already true in building super computers. Once these were monolithic engines, now we cluster many computers and link them together. This will be especially true in nano and micro technologies.
The passive shall be active. Things will have minds of their own. Documents will want to be processed, packages will "demand" to get to locations or to people, “things” will know their rights and seek enforcement.
Commerce is based on authentication and attestation – who are you and what decision rights and authorities do you have?
Things shift from place to person, as has already happened with the cell phone. Where once calls were made to a location, now calls go to a particular person.
Country club-like commerce nets will emerge. The idea of the open network will diminish as small digital universes become more important. These will be members-only forums where you will play by the stated rules.
Technologies need to come to people and adapt to personal cognitive styles and practices, not the other way around. Up until now people have had to come to technology and everyone has needed to approach it the same way.Indeed thought provoking - speech fully ridden with powerful ideas and relevant exapmples.

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"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"