Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence


In a recent book titled, Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, Northeastern University president Joseph Aoun proposes a way to educate the next generation of college students, supporting society in ways that artificial intelligence cannot. His underlying premise is that the existing model of higher education has yet to adapt to the seismic shifts rattling the foundations of the global economy – I firmly agree. It was Alvin Tofler that said: The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those that can’t read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

This conversation is broader than a focus on school-aged young adults. What Tofler pronounced applies to all of us. In his book, Mr. Aoun presents a new model of learning that enables us to understand the highly technological world around us, allowing us to transcend it by nurturing the mental and intellectual qualities that are unique to humans – namely, their capacity for creativity and mental flexibility. He calls this model Humanics. These Human Traits represent our future skills profile, including many of the right brain characteristics visualized below. We will want explorers, problem solvers, dot connectors, continuous learners, and those not afraid to challenge the status quo.

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The Fourth Iteration of Business in the Industrial Age


The evolution of business in the industrial age has mirrored the progression of three industrial revolutions; moving us from its first iteration to our current form. The emerging Fourth Industrial revolution ushers in another shift, culminating in something that likely looks much different than its predecessors. A brief look at this journey shows us the linkage:

Iteration One: The first industrial revolution introduced mechanization and had significant impacts on business and the labor force. Business in this period was transformed, as the steam engine enabled us to replace human and animal-based muscle with machines.

Iteration Two: Several forces converged during the second revolution to elevate our standard of living. The post-war period that followed was defined by a high level of consumption that drove business in the mass production era. Henry Ford famously said: “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”

Iteration Three: The third industrial revolution revolved around information technology, electronics, and communications, ushering in a period of computerization and automation. Businesses were once again transformed through significant gains in productivity and a shift away from Henry Ford era standard products to more customization.

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At the Heart of Digital Transformation


Creating a strategic foundation

To transform is to change in form, appearance, structure, condition, nature, or character. It is an overly used word that can be made to fit several narratives. Yet, given its definition, the dynamics of what is sure to be a volatile and complex future should compel us all to transform. I believe however, that the narrative must change. This is not a technology discussion, and it is not a digital discussion (although digital is the reason we are here). Rather, it is discussion of likely structural shifts that alter our beliefs and intuitions. These shifts will fundamentally change the way we think about organizations.

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The Rise of Ecosystems


When I first launched my Blog in 2010, it was titled Blurring the Boundaries. It was growing ever clearer that the lines between physical and digital, industries, business and IT, you name it, the lines were blurring. It was evident that our growing digital world would drive significant structural change. These new era structures would fundamentally alter our belief in long standing institutions like management, policy, process, procedure, legal frameworks, accounting principles, organization structure, business and operating models, governance, regulations, institutions, and the core characteristics of new era organizations. In essence, The Collapse of Traditional Structures will lead to a Third Tipping Point in Human History.

One of the most profound changes will be the dissolving of industry boundaries and the emergence of ecosystems. Our industry construct – born during revolutions that set the standard of living in the western world – will give way to a finite set of horizontal ecosystems. This visual depicts a perspective on an ultimate finite set of nine ecosystems.

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The Emerging Mobility Ecosystem


In segment four of my interview with Chunka Mui, we discussed the ultimate demise of our industry construct and the emergence of horizontal ecosystems that remove friction from our life experiences – one experience at a time. This platform-enabled transition can be witnessed in action today, as we watch the Mobility ecosystem form one piece at a time. We can no longer think of industries in isolation, as we witness the collision of various industries and a reconfiguration of the money flow – over $2.5 Trillion in car-related economic value. Chunka uses the example of the collision between the automotive and technology ecosystems to describe  this phenomenon: the shift from cars with computers inside, to computers with wheels on them.

Chunka Mui is the managing director of the Devil’s Advocate Group, a consulting team that helps organizations design and stress test their innovation strategies. Mr. Mui published a popular book titled The New Killer Apps.

Segment four is a quick three minute video.

You can view segment one – Autonomous Vehicles: An Interview with Chunka Mui – here.

You can view segment two – Reimagining Our Driverless Future – here.

You can view segment three – The Ripple Effect – here.

Download A PDF Version of the transcript.

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Autonomous Vehicles: An Interview with Chunka Mui


The convergence that is steering our emerging future manifests itself through a number of scenarios that drive multiple paradigm shifts. As the shifts themselves converge, they intensify the critical need for leaders to think differently about a world where the future arrives faster than people think. Some time ago, I had a great conversation with Chunka Mui regarding pace, the sheer number of shifts, and the need to think differently. We used the autonomous vehicle to explore the challenges of our emerging future. I will present the full discussion in five short segments, along with white board animation to visualize our dialog.

Chunka Mui is the managing director of the Devil’s Advocate Group, a consulting team that helps organizations design and stress test their innovation strategies. As a consultant on strategy and innovation, Mr. Mui has spent considerable time analyzing the autonomous vehicle scenario. He asked a question in his book The New Killer Apps about autonomous vehicles and what happens if traffic accidents are reduced by 90% as Google predicts. This simple question makes visible the broad and deep implications of these future scenarios. As society responds to their implications, new ecosystems emerge that alter our world. In this case, the vehicle is one of numerous components of an emerging mobility ecosystem that is defined by the responses that are playing out right now.

Here is the first of the five segments:

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The Experience Journey Gets Complicated


My ongoing work on emerging future scenarios has driven a renewed focus on experience. Several factors are converging to shift the experience end game; specifically, the evolution of Ecosystems and the transformation of Interaction. These two forces – themselves the result of combinatorial innovation – are converging. While the way we interact continues to shift, a parallel evolution towards ecosystems is occurring. This ecosystem evolution introduces systemic complexity and combines with a shifting interaction paradigm to alter the way we think about experience.

Interaction Paradigm Shifts Phase OneFigure 1: Phase One of a pending shift in interaction paradigms

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