Institutions And The Exponential Gap

Our current linear structures do not translate well to the exponential world in which we live. This will force governments and businesses to address the structural challenges that lie ahead. How these challenges are addressed will either serve as an accelerant for emerging future scenarios, slow them down, or derail them. 

That quote from a post on future structures back in 2015 would find a more receptive audience in 2021. Back then however, it was a position that mostly drew stares. Those structural challenges refer to the institutions that represent the lasting norms that define how we live. These norms are established over time and are so engrained in how society behaves, that it usually takes major catastrophes to change the status quo. In transformative periods, institutions struggle as society transitions from one phase to another. These moments of radical change represent a phase transition. The post-world-war two era represents one such transition. How society handles the transition is crucial, and the next decade is tied closely to the evolution of those Institutions. The challenge is large and best described in this passage from a recent book titled The Exponential Age, written by Azeem Azhar.

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We Live In A New Era – Our Institutions Need To Catch Up

The world is in a state of transition and has been for a while. Across multiple domains from society and geopolitics to the economy, the future looks very different. Driven in part by societal shifts and rapid advances in science and technology, the foundation of society is changing. However, the institutions that support that society are not evolving or changing fast enough. I call this phenomenon Institution 2.0 and track it as a future scenario.

One of those institutions is Education. Learning – and the role it played throughout history – is key to managing through periods of transition. This YouTube Channel contains a series of interviews that we conducted on the topic. This video teaser describes the role of education in this emerging era.

Unlearning May be our Biggest Challenge

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those that can’t read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn – Alvin Tofler, Rethinking the Future. 

As we all become life long learners, unlearning could be our biggest challenge. Our mental models prevent us from seeing the need for change. We are creatures of the only world we have individually known. Even if you are one hundred years old, the mental models established after humanities second Tipping Point dominate your thinking. They form our intuitions and belief systems.

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Anticipating 2025 – Part One

I spent time over the Christmas holiday reading a book titled Anticipating 2025. Forward looking analysis that connects leaders with disruptive scenarios and their implications are invaluable, and books like this provide tremendous support. In my next series of Blog posts, I will summarize the salient points from a number of futurists who authored this work. As described in the books opening, futurists are concerned with highlighting a whole range of possible futures, not necessarily pinpointing exactly when something will happen. From the book:

“Futurists seek to draw people’s attention to forthcoming threats, before these threats become too damaging, and to forthcoming opportunities, before these opportunities slip outside of our collective grasp due to inaction on our part”

The book is divided into five sections:

  1. Setting the scene
  2. Re-designing medicine and healthcare
  3. Re-designing artificial intelligence
  4. Re-designing society
  5. Redesigning humanity

Part one of this Blog series will set the scene. In the book’s first section, the authors focus on driving forces, big shifts, and roadblocks. It is believed that if developed and deployed wisely, technology could provide a great future of unprecedented abundance, health, and vitality. But there is much uncertainty and a number of obstacles to overcome. In setting the scene, twenty technology areas where wide-ranging developments are 50% likely between now and 2025 are identified:

25 Technology Areas

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