Chapter 9. Trends and Progress – Leading Positive Change

1. Information Sciences and Technologies Overview

Main concept: Information sciences and technologies are becoming the “Steering System” of our civilization’s many processes of accelerating change.

Leader’s challenge: Using IT to grow personal, organizational, and global Intelligence, Immunity (Security) and Interdependence (Morality).

Summary sentence:

“The conversational interface, bio-inspired computers and personal AIs, all arriving 2015-2030, may be the biggest single tech change we will see in our lifetimes.”

Area topics:

Bio-Inspired Computing. Super, Enterprise, Personal, Mobile/Wearable, Web/Cloud. Google, Amazon, Apple, MS, IBM. While conventional computing will continue to advance, it will increasingly lose out to bio-inspired computing, which will bring statistical and brain-like learning to our computer software and some hardware (like IBM’s SyNAPSE) in the 2020’s. This will automate more tasks and disrupt more industries. These machines not only be selected for intelligence, but also for immunity (security from attack) and interdependence (ethical architectures and algorithms) with their human users.

Communication and Networks. Mobile now reaches 60% of humanity. 85% (50% 4G LTE) by 2017. 3B more folks will be online by 2020. “One wearable smartphone per child.” 100Mbps broadband, internet TV, telepresence. Social networks, crowd intelligence. Facebook now ‘third largest country’ (1B). Google, Facebook largest platforms (>1.4B) by 2014.

Big Data, Maps, and Algorithms. Big Data, Google Maps are preconditions for AI. Many algorithms (sorting, compression, linear optimization, signal processing) improve as fast or faster than our computer hardware (eg., 10^4 in 15 years).

Conversational Interface. NLP: Watson, Siri, Google Now. Avg. length of query we ask search engines doubles every  seven years. 1998 1.3 words, 2005 2.6 words, 2012 5.2 words. 2019 10.4 words. Soon, natural language sentences will work well. The neural network intelligence behind these advances will enable the biggest set of learning and social changes most of us will see in our lives, right around the corner.

Smart Agents and Personal AIs. Smart Agents, Personality Capture, Personal AIs, Digital Identity, Quantified Self. Smart agents began with Siri, the Google Assistant, and Alexa in 2010-2012. On the way to 2030, agents will increasingly become active extensions of our personality, increasingly managing what we read, watch, how we collaborate, network, buy, and even vote.

Books: The Second Machine Age, Brynjolfsson & McAfee, 2016; Age of Spiritual Machines, Kurzweil, 2000; Wired for Thought, Stibel, 2009

Leadership Questions:

  1. What are your IT research, acquisition, R&D, hiring, training, measuring, and management strategies?
  2. What key disruptions or threats must you anticipate in a world of accelerating IT performance?
  3. What problems could be addressed and opportunities taken if you had significantly better IT performance in your critical systems?
  4. How can you get measurably more of the most valuable IT capabilities, at an efficient ROI?