James Taylor provides interesting reports from the IBM’s World of Watson. In particular, he wrote this overview of the keynote given by Tom Friedman, the author of The World is Flat. “Tom has been working on a new book called ‘Thank You For Being Late‘ – all about the value of giving people the time to pause in an era of acceleration.He told a great story about meeting a guy at a parking garage and interacting with him about how to write a column. He likes to provoke or illuminate with his columns which takes understanding one’s position on the world, how one things the world works and what you think about this.
Right now he sees the way the world “machine” works changing – the digital globalization of the market, Moore’s Law and technology and the rapid change of nature due to climate change and population growth. All three are hockey-stick graphs and all three interact with each other. As he was looking at this he saw that 2007 was an important year – the iPhone, Facebook, Google buying Youtube, the price of sequencing a genome or solar power fell off cliffs, Intel moved off Silicon and much more – and IBM’s researchers started Watson. He thinks 2007 was a technology inflexion point – and we missed it because of the crash of 2008. In addition, the political impact of this was that much of the social and legal framework needed to cope with this change did not get built and so there is a major disconnect.
All of this technology change gets lumped into the cloud but he finds this too “soft” a word as it is really a supernova of change. Storage, compute power, connectivity all came together in 2007 to deliver an invisible technology platform. This changes four things – it changes:
- Power of 1 person to build or break is greater than ever
- Power of many, of groups, to change the world is greater
- Power of flow as ideas flow around the world
- Power of machines
And the power of machines was demonstrated by Watson winning Jeopardy in 2011. And the world was never the same since…
Politics, geopolitics, the workplace, ethics and community are all being dramatically changed by these trends of market, nature, and technology. The challenge is how to reimagine them. He talked briefly about three of them:
- For the workplace, for instance, has to figure out how machine technology and AI are going to change things – how to use intelligent assistance to change people’s jobs. This means new skills, continuous learning by employees and much more.
- Politics is being blown up as things change – the parties were structured around old problems and not about these challenges of climate, technology and globalization. He used nature as an example of coping with change – sustainable, experimental, fill niches, patient, willing to kill failures etc. Politics, he says, is going to be overrun by the pace of change and only parties that can be adaptive to this new world will survive…
- Ethics is also going to change. As everything we do becomes digital – friendships, relationships, work and much more – we need to rethink value systems to work in this connected but not hierarchical environment. The power of one person in this environment is completely different – to make or to break everything. This means that how people think and act – their ethical view – really matters. We have to scale the golden rule – do unto others as you would have others do to you – to include everyone. Family, values, teaching, ethics all really matter.”