Intangible Innovations Drive Pervasive Change


[ The Note for May 2014 ]

When we try to judge what comes next, economically, scientifically, politically and culturally, we have some very specific and significant limitations. We can only use past experience and our perceptions about our current situation to make judgments about what has not yet happened. We can only quantify what is quantifiable, and what is not observable can hardly be quantified. When we think about future roads, we tend to look at roads we have now; when we think about future energy, we tend to look at combustible fuels as the most commonplace and naturally occurring way of harvesting energy for human uses. When we think about economic behavior, we tend to assume that all future values will be related to what we are already observing now. The intangible element of human thought, innovation, collaboration and discovery, is generally left out, leaving us looking through a very problematic blind spot.

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Online Education May Change the World

Massive open online courses (MOOC) have so far been an experiment in sparking interest and granting access. Stanford University, MIT and other elite universities, have found that with the right subject matter, the right content, the right flexibility for participation and the right marketing, it is possible to bring hundreds of thousands of people into their online classrooms.

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The Improbable-yet-likely Future of Information Technology

It is notoriously difficult to predict how new, over-the-horizon technologies will develop, much less which ones will dominate, and why. In the 1970s, it was still considered unlikely that all homes everywhere would use personal computers for all sorts of everyday activities, much less that more than a billion people would carry supercomputers in their pockets. But certain features of the technology and materials landscape give us clues as to how things might go.

We know that information technology (IT) is driving toward ever more mobile, ever more affordable, ever more flexible platforms, and that substrate-independent storage (hyper cloud-computing) will more readily come to computers than it will to the human brain. So, we can envision powerful computational devices, essentially many generations evolved iPhones, that devote their power to organizing substrate-independent content and computational power.

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21st Century Business Needs to Learn to Deal with Uncertainty

It is a virtual mantra in the universe of political analysis that “business doesn’t like uncertainty”, and it is true that declining consumer spending, increasing fuel costs, squeeze profits and that in some cases, businesses worry about changes to the regulations they must follow. But uncertainty is the nature of an evolving global economy, and … Continue reading 21st Century Business Needs to Learn to Deal with Uncertainty

Unjust Rendering: Reversing the Lie of an Obituary Defaming Derrida

A great and resonant thinker dies, and a great and resonant newspaper publishes an obituary dismissing his work as destructive and “abstruse”. It is an unjustifiable communicative travesty. When Jacques Derrida passed away, in October of this year, the New York Times wrote that his work was an attempt to undermine Western culture, despite his work being one of the most successful and persistent efforts of the last century to revive, clarify, enliven and apply Western thought to the problems of meaning, justice, creative work and political order.

The obituary was full of factual errors and infected with a hard-line bias against complex and rigorous thought. The facile and mistaken point of view that to distinguish between meaning and truth is to call for nihilist or morally bankrupt agendas in thought and politics… it failed to look at the work itself or the man himself and instead paraphrased poorly wrought critiques and conceptual gossip to try to discredit a monumental life of study in Western philosophy.

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