Sunday, January 03, 2010

Exploring Web Science part 2 - The Creative Age

In the hunter/gatherer age, lasting tens of thousands of years, the knife, the spear, the bow and arrow, etc. provided the means of success. In the agricultural age, lasting thousands of years, the hoe, the plow, the tractor, and the harvester provided a similar foundation. In the industrial age, lasting hundreds of years, it was the factory, with standardized means of production, as well as ready access to resources, capital, and markets that were the keys to wealth and power.

The Agricultural Age (18th Century) - where the basis for wealth was land and natural resources.
The Industrial Age (19th Century) - where the basis for wealth was capital and machinery.
The Information Age (20th Century) - where the basis for wealth was knowledge.
The Creative Age (21st Century) - where the basis for wealth is Creative assets (ie: assets of right brain)

In each age, those individuals or social institutions that acquired the characteristics and resources necessary to take advantage of the new sources of wealth were able to enjoy a new standard of material living and social interaction. And now, just decades into the information age, it seems another profound change is occurring.

Moore’s Law of Integrated Circuits, developed in the 1970s, predicts the doubling of computational power for computer processors every 24 months. That was true from 1950 to 1966; it shortened to 18 months in the 1990s and is now doubling every 12 months. At this rate of exponential change, Moore’s Law will reach its physical potential by end of this decade. However, Kurzweil suggests that processing techniques under development will allow parallel processing in three dimensions (similar to the human brain) and allow this doubling to continue throughout the 21st century.

If a country wants to increase its standard of living, it has to increase its output per person. How to increase the output? By using automation, productivity tools etc. The rising use of automation means increased productivity and the requirement of fewer workers. The result is more people are available to do other activities. This has already occurred in agriculture and manufacturing. High-tech industries such as IT, biotechnology are leading the way in this process and, as a result, have doubled the growth rate of other manufacturing industries.

The last quarter of the 20th century of world economy transition from the industrial age to the information age, a move characterized by major changes in profession, as many people chose to be knowledge workers, rather than manual laborers. Computer science was the driving intellectual, social, and cultural force behind the information age. Computer researchers and developers spearheaded widespread adoption of new technology and were paid well. Academic computer science departments grew in terms of numbers of students, faculty, and facilities.

We've progressed from a society of farmers to a society of factory workers to a society of knowledge workers. And now we're progressing yet again - to a society of creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers (Daniel H. Pink). The Information Age of the 20th century is a time when the world’s boundaries are closer and the distance shorter. It is a period dominated by information. Those having access to information are able to create wealth within a dramatically short period of time. And when information can be acquired with a click of a finger, in addition to the professionalism inherited from the Industrial Age, the world is now transforming into a totally new era. This era is about information rearrangement and integration, with value added concept, all blends into one – Global brain.

The hard part will be teaching computers to think in the first place so they can do some thinking for us. Eventually we will learn to think together in a global network called the Global brain. Everything the world has to offer will be available to virtually anyone by simply asking for it from the Global brain. People will earn and spend money depending on how they interact with the Global brain. Problems that used to take decades for government to solve will be solved in minutes by millions of people working together on a single problem. To say that life will be different, The most important resources of all companies will be the ideas and creative capacities of the workforce.

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