An innovation equilibrium informed by creative destruction.

Value beyond the circle of identity

The perspective of value is subjective; it is changing with time and often being impacted by the reciprocal relationships of the “ecology-of-the-self.” The concept of value during the industrial revolution was circular and therefore evolved around the efficiency of resource usage throughout the entire supply chain. It was a model dedicated to minimizing waste while keeping interactions and transactions bound to familiar business models – the ones that we felt comfortable with and did not force us to change our mindset. This circular flow is unfortunately still driving our innovation economy today. It is placing 99% of management power to maximize the current earning model while ignoring the nature of the new generation of additive-consumers who operate outside the “single brand circle of identity.”

Transformation out of the locked endless loop

Many organizations today fall into the trap of “thought fixation” in regards to their view of their input-output models. The harsh truth is that when outputs only cover the cost of production rather than creating new input opportunities, there is no progress or change to the core-earning model. If you keep all of your resources focused on the current business, your organization is locked in an endless loop. Therefore your enterprise has no incentive to rethink itself when facing societal and economic changes. 

Creative destruction as the dissolution of thought fixation

Maybe a good example is a difference between a socialistic and capitalistic employee development program. When the “socialistic” company is employing a student fresh out of school, 20 years of the same repetitive tasks set up front. In the “capitalistic” company the student career and professional focus is unclear and therefore forces the student to continually evolve and reinvent her or his impact on the output of the company and thus becoming a creative destructive force.

Joseph Schumpeter’s ‘creative destruction’ is the dissolution of “thought fixation” around old practices in favor of innovation that can drive new revenue streams. Instead of using resources to improve the past, leaders should pave the path to establish new routines of economic behaviors. You do so by continuously seeking out new ways to divert organizational resources to capture and harness the data generated from consumer interactions with your outputs within the consumer ecosystem to rethink your input model. This is how you create innovation equilibrium – the managerial accumulation of creativity and invention in a competitive market that produces coherent results.

Human-Machine-Human

We, as humans were given an unusual advantage in comparison to the rest of the animal kingdom. Our brain is capable of constructing a model of the world that can calculate the effect of causality to our points of view.

So far, most of the data we use to build our model with comes via our senses and while one cannot argue on the substantive qualities of external objects, the content of only physical data is not enough to “predict” the behavior of complex living creatures. To do so, we must understand their state of mind — feel what they feel.

Language is yet another valuable tool in this process. It enables us to capture new dimensions of reality and structure our development upon previous existing fundamental building blocks we already carry within us — our qualia. Qualia are individual instances of subjective, conscious experience. It is a single entity, different from the brain yet affected by it — it is our inner experiences of experiences.

The human-machine-human functional convergent evolution –

For the past years, we have witnessed an exponential growth in technologies that impact computation power in areas such as, biotech, infotech, the algorithmic-neuro-engineering, instant accessibility, flow and data mixing, automation (and more). While we are just at the beginning of this journey, these technologies evolved to create a transparent interaction ecology that for the first time positions us, humans, as part of the perception of reality rather than reality itself. — We shifted from observing the information, to become part of the information and as such we now can be connected and understand the world via knowledge that is external to our existence. Our qualia can experience experiences that are anchored in our brain but use external digital sensations and senses to paint the image of substance.

These evolutionary processes are re-creating our reality, and because of our ability to calculate it is implications and potential are still at its embryo phase, we have to ask if “what we know that we know” is enough to predict how our current action can impact our species

Goodbye Europe

For the past years, I have found myself visiting Berlin a few times. If for public speaking engagement of vacation with my family the city is lovely, the nightlife, the cultural arena, the political strength, they all gave the impression that Berlin is the real capital of Europe rather then Brussels. It didn’t take me a long time to understand that no matter how shiny the surface is, something didn’t smell good underground. Maybe it was my argument with the taxi driver who insisted that I paid cash and refused to let me pay with my card, a case that happened almost every time I used a taxi. The few times I was able to pay with my card, not only I was charged extra but I needed to spend ten extra minutes for the driver to read a paper manual on how to operate the mobile card reader.

Taxies are not alone, hell no, from grocery stores to kiosks to museums to restaurants, I was always pushed to pay with cash. To make things more interesting, every time I wanted to check my email, use maps to navigate, upload an image or surf the connection to the network felt as if I traveled in time to the 90th.

How can the so-called most robust economy in the European-union operate under such an old fashioned model?

Berlin is not alone, much of the cities in Europe suffer from similar symptoms. I live in Sweden and the last time I used cash was about three years ago. But paper money in one of many symptoms that indicate a deeper problem and even so this symptom doesn’t show up in Sweden, it doesn’t mean that the country isn’t suffering from fatal diseases. A rotten outdated economic and educational infrastructure.

Let’s go back to Germany for a moment and its connectivity infrastructure. In a world that is shifting its focus from physical exchange to digital exchange to generate value, How does Germany expect to compete on a global scale when it’s basic connectivity is broken? When we see the rise of alternative currency structures that fundamentally pave the way for the creation of a new monetary system, How can Germany, Sweden and the rest of the European Union cope with the changes? Especially when the monetization platforms are in the hand of the big tech companies and social media giants?

We’re surrounded by algorithms, flying cars, electric cars, and sophisticated computation power yet we still teach and think about economic models as we’re riding a horse and a carriage.

Thomas Edison said: “Hell, there are no rules here. We’re trying to accomplish something. And in Europe, we all about the rules. We completely forgot that progress is driven by creativity and inventions. I always like to think about laws in the context of dynamic movement rather than a stop sign, unfortunately, the bright minds of politicians and public servants administrators define our reality by focusing on everything that is not allowed to do (GDPR for example) and ignoring the narrative that society is only great when allowing personal prosperity to flourish – You do that by enabling not restricting.

Out legislative process is designed on old assumptions and by bureaucratic idiots who insist that what exists is right and shouldn’t be changed. The adaptation of technology is slow and driven by gaps of knowledge instead of understanding fractions, growth, and value. We are trying to feed old horses with paper money and expecting to ride it to colonized Mars.

Rules should be designed to help you when you get into troubles not to prevent you from getting there.

Europe lost it’s imagination, passion, and courage. If the vision of past thinkers was ahead of their time and gave us tools to push ourselves beyond anything we thought is possible, we now closer than ever to a point where the lack of it is defining our reality. We can’t continue and search for the new using patterns of the old. We can’t pave new roads, using old told and expect them to carry us into the future.

We know how to sponsor technological research, we’re very good at that yet when it comes to rethinking our policy infrastructure, we dare not challenge the statuesque. Yes, there are some experimentations here there, but the majority of policy decision making is based on fashion rather than thinking. After all, governments are looking for reports, not results.

We use ethical reasoning to justify the judgment of individual moralism, and by doing that, we drive innovation and creativity to it’s ironing edge.

Between Davos and my toothbrush

The challenges facing our future come from our inability to cope with the changes that technology is imposing on individuals and society.

Every year I follow the Davos parade, mainly enjoying the fact the leaders of the world gather together to solve global problems while making the lives of everyone in Davos miserable. This year, I noticed the list of global threats shared by the delegation:

  • Natural disasters
  • Mega data hacks
  • Cyber attacks
  • Climate change
  • Failing to define the legislation to tackle the climate challenges
  • The crash of the ecological systems
  • Water crisis
  • Man-made disasters
  • Immigration without control or legislation
  • Bubbles in the economy

I read this list over and over again yet the only thing I could think is that my toothbrush might be a more significant immediate threat than any of these. I recently traveled to the US and wanted to pick up a new toothbrush. As I travel a lot, I was looking for a mobile, simple to charge toothbrush. I was thrilled when I came across Oral-B connected toothbrush. It had everything. It was electric, it could charge it’s battery using my mobile phone charger, the case of the toothbrush could also act as a phone charger, the reviews are great, and it was connected – all for $199. Wow. I immediately placed an order. I also decided to pre-educate myself and search for some videos on the device. It all sounded simple:

  1. Make sure your toothbrush is charged
  2. Start the Bluetooth on your phone and connect it to the toothbrush
  3. Place the phone holder on the mirror in the bathroom (wait, what?)
  4. Give the app permission to access your camera
  5. Make sure your face is in the circle of the app
  6. Brush

I canceled my order and bought an old fashion manual toothbrush for $1.99.

In a world when we strive to connect everything, we often forget the purpose of the things we connect to introduce undesired frictions that become the main selling point of the device. I don’t argue with the market value of connected devices, but I do argue that there is a difference between the Internet of Things and things of the Internet. The value should be based on use not on production.

Digital development is not about doing something new but improving things until a point where it will redefine society. It’s at that point when the downside of the economy would become irrelevant and would be replaced by a new set of rules that are anchored in the codification of value interactions.

There is an old chart that shows the penetration of new technologies and how long it took the telephone, radio, TV, Internet, Facebook, and Angry Birds to reach 50 million users. It’s not the speed that bothers me; the comparison is not a real one as it’s more a question of infrastructure than anything else. What intrigues me most is that we – and by we I mean companies and governments – don’t have the tools to understand or distinguish between the above list, nor how any will impact the economy in 35 days.

The challenges we have are not from technology, or it’s speed. The challenge comes from our inability to cope with the changes that technology is imposing on individuals and society. If there is something I learned from history is that whenever we – and by we, I mean all of us – don’t understand something, we fight it. For example – Google has been fined nearly $57 million by French regulators for violating Europe’s strict new data-privacy rules. I do not have a great love for Google and their use of my data. But my thought is that the entire GDPR legislative process (like that road to hell), was paved with good intention. It seems that the fine is white noise to society as opposed to a solution to the data privacy issue. Another example – unhappy Arizona residents have been slashing Waymo tires in an attempt to derail self-driving cars. Maybe we need to rethink our societal ground and educational infrastructures before we deploy technologies that require a new set of rules?

When elevators were first introduced, they used to have an operator to regulate the speed and ensure that the device stopped parallel to the desired floor. The operator also offered companionship to the passenger, ensuring their safety and to project trust. After all, an elevator was a sophisticated new piece of technology that needed a “human” mechanism to secure its value. Elevator technology hasn’t changed (much) throughout the years. And as they are confined to a physical space, we rarely need humans to help us operate that now trusted technology.

But what about virtual spaces, where things are continually changing fast? Where is the learning curve and assistance for adaptation? Most importantly, where are the interfaces that enable us to regularly repurpose interactions and outcomes? The gap between the potential impacted value and the economy is broader than ever. The legislation, systematic frameworks, and infrastructures are so behind that it feels like we are chasing a virus that is constantly mutating and reiterating it’s synergies with the host. That is until the host becomes a secondary product of the ecology of existence.

For the past few years, we’ve seen a significant shift in human interaction. Our language, communication, knowledge exchange, and wellbeing are all being redefined. That redefinition of our spirit is all happening outside of a set of rules and legislation that ware created to capture and monetize our human capital. FB/Instagram, Snap and a few other “communication apps” have taken center stage in designing the definition of values. Our instant gratification needs have been triggered – enabling us to seamlessly send money, share feelings, shop for goods and services. All while more traditional tools like emails are left behind.

Today there are more original streaming shows on TV then basic cable broadcast shows. Yet when the CEO of Netflix was asked about Netflix’ biggest threats – he named Fortnight and not HBO. He had previously said that his goal was to become HBO before HBO become Netflix. Mission accomplished. On to the next playing field. One of Netflix biggest jumps in usage was during a recent four-hour outage of Pornhub. Also noticed was an under-reported impact of the US government shutdown – a massive increase in traffic to adult sites starting with Ponrhub. The old tagline was, “It’s not TV, it’s HBO.” Our current tagline could be, “It’s not HBO; it’s Netflix.” But the ensuing tagline might be, “Be constantly connected, but never with humans.”

The new upcoming forms of “gig” and “share,” while a bit confusing, will demand companies and governments to rethink their taxation, pricing, and experiences offered if they want to partake in the future.

The Sharing economy is about the assets. The gig economy is about the occupation. You share physical artifacts, your gig, your time. A person cannot cook and walk the dog at the same time. But a song can be played simultaneously in many places. What happens when artifacts become digital? It’s the whole idea behind industry 4.0 – creativity and productivity are not bound to a physical location or physical governance model.

When automation takes center stage in our productivity, and efficiency models and algorithmic intelligence extends beyond our cognitive and physical functions, we will need an ecosystem that is capable of catering to all our needs in real-time and multiple locations (at the same time). Look at Amazon prime, Prime now, Uber and Uber Eats (and others) – they deliver experiences in minutes from the click of an app. The app economy eventually will fade away in favor of automation and predictive intelligence, and that will open a whole new world of values of demand.

Einstein said: “Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.” Now we see our physical universe expanding into digital dimensions and while we can’t really “touch digital” it enables us to redefine everything we knew about productivity and efficiency.

The experience of “access-ship” vs. “ownership” will be a turning point for the so-far-undisrupted physical goods market. While companies like WeWork and Airbnb made significant money in this area, they needed to rely on an old infrastructure – physical, static locations to grow their businesses. Maybe there is a place for a dynamic market model where the assets themselves can be placed in various locations and can be repurposed to address the growing demand for our personal experiences.

Options abound from autonomous food carts that can open new possibilities for on-demand consumption to the delivery of products directly into one’s fridge. Possibilities are upon us from new interfaces that rely on body language rather than touch, to the ability of technology not only to respond to human voice but to also initiate a conversation. Facial expression controlled wheelchairs, wiring three brains together to complete tasks in digital spaces, discovering the power on algorithms to personalize the narratives in virtual areas all are here. Editing human DNA to perfect the evolutionary process while shunned, has been attempted. This is not science fiction anymore – this is the world in 2019. We can use technology to give disabled people the ability to walk and talk or to merely escape the misery of loneliness and marry holograms.

The set of rules which we build our world upon, the same set of rules that leads governments to state that “a human should sit behind the steering wheel of an autonomous car” or “let’s tax porn to build the wall,” is dated back to the Roman empire. Ignoring the fact that we are technologically obese and live in a world where we know how to operate everything yet we don’t know how anything works is not an option anymore. Maybe it’s time to rethink our thinking, to understand that we shouldn’t compete against technology in same fields that human blood was shed but compete with technology and pave new roads, ones that enable us to “explore new horizons and boldly go where no one has gone before.”

Lessons on innovation

1. Innovation is an ecosystem, not a job title.

It seems the point here is that you can’t go it alone. Moreover, innovation cannot conceive on command. Change comes from the bottom-up or the outside-in – not the top-down. Any change that comes from the top should structure as a strategy, not a project.

2. Innovation without creativity and invention equals what you have now.

Are you allowing for real creativity and invention in your government or organization? If you internally smirked before you said, yes – you get my point. Admit that you’re merely fast-following (at best) if there isn’t room for creativity and invention in your organization at present. (Also, maybe freshen-up the resume)

3. Focusing on increasing your core earning model – and forgetting how to entice and defend it – will never give you the tools and know-how to expand the pie of your business model.

So this is the end destroying the means. If you focus on how profitable your business is today, your organization will not be productive tomorrow.

4. Engaging in iterative change ensures you follow the pack as opposed to reap the rewards of being a thought leader.

Hat-tip to lesson #2, but as far as I am concerned this goes beyond never receiving the glory. In essence, we deserve what we get out of this industrial revolution if we don’t indeed disrupt ourselves.

5. You can never look into tomorrow using yesterdays eyes.

In a way, this sums up lesson #1 through lesson #4. Fear is the spawn of ignorance. If you only consider what has happened – or worse, what is happening – you can’t help us with tomorrow. Learn from the past, be present at the moment and let that insight allow you to think differently about the future.

The Devil’s lair

In the meadow, One would imagine that songs of innocents should triumph yet in this story the killer wins. Awakened before dawn, he walked between the soldiers. their bodies he slew to feed the ground. Molded dreams of conquered future shattered to pieces. Carried on the wings of butterflies, deep into the devil’s lair. To stand trial against the emptiness of wishes.

Infinite possibilities

“We’re free, yet we’re bound. In the invisible universe, we’re the masters of the nothing. The knowledge of the unknown is hidden. Though our eyes are open, we’re blind to the sounds behind the curtain of our heart.
(if) We experience our freedom by justifying logic; indeed it’s nothing but ignorance thought that we can experience the freedom of others. It’s our eyes that create our image in the eyes of others. The only way to win true freedom is to spin around our emotions. They are in control!”

It’s said: The possibilities are infinite, so as changes.

Madness gold

The clock inside my soul is counting backward
To the time I was, no more
Beside the emptiness, I lay naked from guilt
Yearning for the blunt blade to relive my memories from their umbilical cord
For it is the sweet awareness of my bloody tick I am the nothing but a madness gold

The Circular Economic Ecologies and the age of technological ignorance and hypocrisy.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt

I was always driven by my dreams. Be that the case, when I sat to write this piece, I realized that for the past few years it wasn’t my dreams that shaped my perceptions but frustrations. We tend to think about frustrations in a negative context, yet I try to let it define the outcome of my everyday activates after all frustrations are born out of bad experiences and frictions, and if I am aware of that I can do something about it.

When talking to people, I tend to quote the New York Times from 1920 “a rocket will never be able to leave the earth’s atmosphere.” Just 25 years later that feat was accomplished. The ensuing 50 years brought incremental achievements. It wasn’t that we didn’t succeed in soundly shuttering that prediction but did need to wait for Elon to say “screw it” to understand that leaving the earth’s atmosphere is but a small piece in the puzzle of building a sustainable civilization.

Listening to Carl Sagan talking about the Voyager, I can’t but think why whenever we refer to NASA, the first relation is to the moon landing. I do not, even for a second underestimate the magnitude of the impact of Neil Armstrong’s “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” statement had on humanity. Yet I do feel we capitalized on that as a one-off PR stunt, and from a technology point of view, the moon landing was nothing, but incremental modifications NASA made to rockets so they can land a man on the moon.

The Voyager on the other hand, also sent a manmade object to space, yet the objective was not technological by nature but philosophical – what are we going to do about aliens once we encounter them? How do we push forward to explore the universe while- without refueling- maintaining and still capturing data from an object that continuously increases its distance from earth?

ONLY WHEN WE CONFRONT THE UNKNOWN WE EXCEL BEYOND IMAGINATION

The amount of collaboration needed to pull off the Voyager was unprecedented at that time- and I will argue that even today, that collaboration is unique. The results are amazing. The Voyager left our solar system and continues to explore space. And while my $1K smartphone losses its reception every time I go into a basement, the Voyager is still sending images back to earth.

The Voyager project was never about technology, it was about exploring the unknown, and I believe that only when we confront the unknown- we excel beyond imagination.

What are the fundamental questions we need to ask ourselves when facing yet another unknown? Not in space, but the changing technology is going to enforce on us?

The hidden change.

Humanity is facing an unprecedented change in its perception of reality and in the narratives that defined its existence. Much as past extinctions that pushed the reset button for the entire planet- thus enabling rejuvenation and new creation- humanity is but a touch away from such a reset.

Since the invention of the axe, technology was always the force that paved the way for better and smarter social constructs. From Watt’s steam engine in 1775, sewage systems, elevators, and shipping containers- to screens, smartphones, processing power, and machine learning- it is technology which helps us to push the barriers and build our world. It’s the one function that never stops, it continually changes itself, reinvents and defines new horizons- most, unfortunately, are now beyond our ability to understand.

The industrial revolution wasn’t just a buzzword, it was the compounding accumulative impact of humanity’s maturity and acceptance that met with technology on the same field of understanding and mutual benefits – values. Yes, it bolstered urbanization, innovation, and creativity for many years, yet it is fast approaching a critical peak and is about to leave us facing the unknown, naked from knowledge.

THE IDEAS OF OUR FUTURE ARE NOW ANCHORED IN CODE.

For the past few years, a new breed of technologies is stepping into our arena. Artificial Intelligence, robotics, genomics, biotechnology, nanotechnology, terotechnology- adjustable reality and the codification of value interactions enable us to reexamine and repurpose every aspect of our existence. From our digital-selves to the cities we live in- from mobility, energy, and communication to new financial models- the ideas of our future are now anchored in code.

The future always required strategic, patient thinking and to be honest, before the 50’s, these were qualities we possessed. Most books, art or movies written and produced had a holistic view of things. They describe a point in time where the world was dominated and powered by technological gadgets, body enhancements, artificial intelligence, autonomous cars, flying cars, cities in the clouds or underwater but most important they investigated the impact of these ideas of society.

WE OUTSOURCED OUR POTENTIAL INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY AND STARTED TO BUILD TECHNOLOGY FOR THE SAKE OF TECHNOLOGY

Sometime around 1983 – 1984 computation power shifted humanity’s focus from imagining to engineering. Suddenly we had machines that could do the things we always did but better and faster and we became addicted to them. We enslaved our minds. We outsourced our potential innovation and creativity and started to build technology for the sake of technology.

We replaced our strategic vision with a tactical search for answers, we have surrounded ourselves with buzzwords like “the 4th industrial revolution,” “IoT,” “smart cities” and more- all while forgetting that technology was meant to be nothing but a means to an end.

Focusing on the means, we are now left behind and unable to see the end. It’s time to rethink life by imagining the potentials and the desired impacts not only from a technological point of view but also incorporating ethics, morality, trust, and education into this equation.

The stupid intelligence

Without a point of reference that is anchored in past experiences, it’s hard to tell the future.

Hawking dismissed the ideas that the existence of the universe can be attributed to a single point in which everything that happened before is meaningless. Yet I cannot ignore the fact that we did evolve from that point of the big bang and we do not carry the heritage of things that existed before that peak.

Throughout the years we have struggled to understand intelligence. Although organic and inorganic matters are both made from the same building blocks we call atoms- we still cannot breathe life to silicon. Maybe, intelligence is the narrative that manifests itself via the bonds and reciprocal relationships in the creation of a self-contained universe. Perhaps it is not a stand-alone “brain” but the fact that that brain is derived from the complexity and context that pushed that brain into existence. We have created beautiful technologies but as we cannot break our “anchored in historical chains” perspectives while searching for life on other planets, we cannot “build” intelligence by merely copying existence into a code, so we are left with machines that operate in the realm of life yet are not alive.

It was not long ago that innovation boomed from the ideas of individualism, self-interest, logic, reputation, and honesty. And by all accounts, life was good. It seemed that we have found the formula for economic growth. But a strange thing happened. Alan Greenspan, in the aftermath of the collapse, said: “I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interest of organizations, specifically banks and others, was such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders.”

The bigger mistake was that even so- all data showed almost no growth in productivity, the government sided with the 0’s and 1’s that continued to push numbers to new, unimaginable heights. We assumed that the “room can speak Chinese,” we were dazzled by the output. We had a perfect “distance economy,” and we missed the fact that John Searle’s “Chinese room” experiment (this is the moment where you open a browser and Google John Searle’s “Chinese room”) showcased the simulation of intelligence rather than possession of intelligence.

Let us examine this for a moment. Throughout history, the success of intelligence systems depended on the idea that situations should be driven by their potentials and values are determined via the beneficial reciprocal relationships between the actors that make the system. In Searle’s demonstration- the wished outcome- the connections between the actors, was mechanical and without any reciprocal value.

In the model of the economy, we took this yet one step further- we placed a singular actor to define the inputs, outputs and the value creation mechanisms. At each point of action, there was a different view on the model.

It was not the model itself that failed, it was the way we implemented it.

Awakening – The divided world

The most significant risk we have as a society is not from the unknown, but for the known to fall apart.

For the first time in history (at least the one we can trace back to the big bang) natural evolution had peaked it’s potential- there is no place to go from a biology point of view. Yes, we might be a bit faster and jump a bit higher, but we have reached a point where our organic structure just cannot evolve anymore. Even with genetic modifications- sooner or later- we will hit a limit. It is not only our organic structure that is facing evolutionary ends; our mental abilities are also severely limited. This is also translated from the narratives in which we created the reality around us- from geopolitics and global C-Suites- we managed the world with a limited understanding of the challenges ahead and thereby under-utilize our evolutionary potential in almost every area.

The fundamental building blocks of society can be folded into three domains, mobility, energy, and communication. Traditionally, they always operated with degrees of freedom. Yet, they never applied that to the reciprocal relationships between each other. Today, and because of technological development, these connections can manifest themselves via the codification of the logistic systems that carry the societal interaction models- yet instead of letting this natural process evolve itself- we are confining it to the limited information input/output model of yesteryears society and are therefore leaving ourselves with output patterns from our halcyon days.

When the sovereign knows less about the needs of a free market than the players that must compete in that market- the value creation is twisted by bias. The role of the sovereign is to create a set of societal APIs’ that will define its own operating boundaries and at the same time will be open, so the market can repurpose itself to its own benefits.

Time to change

It is hard to write about changes without talking about politics and leadership. It is said that if you do not accept change yourself, you will be rendered irrelevant and eventually perish.

Change is one of the most laborious processes to swallow- as individuals and moreover as a society that flourishes on the idea that what exists is right and shouldn’t be changed. Thought fixation defines the reciprocal relationships between the various examples that we use to measure success- but they also make us forget that by doing so, we build a wall around our creativity and innovation.

Some may disagree, but facts point to the notion that for the past ten years the global economy as a whole and Silicon Valley, in particular, presented a slow yet constant decreased ability to innovate. Most companies (excluding some well-documented examples) have reached their “golden age,” or in other words, they got old, less observant, full of bloated ego but more importantly-they became fragile. They are stuck in the loop of thought fixation and to ease the pain, they have surrounded themselves with rings and rings of regulations that are anchored in paper-based politics.

The ideas that our knowledge and values are inductive yet must be shaped by the deductive nature of reality- so they can deliver value- is a great way to look at businesses, society and politics operating together. It is not about what was, nor about what will be, but what is.

“Looking into the future, you cannot predict which groups will survive, it’s well known that many advanced groups eventually fade away.” Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, 1859

We live in an unfortunate reality where many leaders have dismissed their responsibility for the future and lost their appetite to think big. These heroes without vision are busy analyzing and planning, while others are building for immortality. Powered by siloed vision- they are fragmenting our reality and creating a new circle of ideological wars.

In the current claimant of blind leadership, we have to distance ourselves from the contradictions that the political situation is placing in front of us and look at change as an opportunity to use our collective mind.

Not to continue on the same path of “things we know that we know” but disconnect from the laziness and fear and build an infrastructure for new business models, new definitions of innovation and most importantly create a mindset, that will encourage the next change.

We need to believe that the best solutions to a problem are not hitting it with everything we have, but by viewing it from all possible angles. If something does not work for its intended purpose, it might work for something completely different — that is the meaning of change.

 

Can we rethink the narrative of a city?

Short interview before keynote about the future of cities.

1. How do you see smart cities in 2030?

Since I was a kid, every story about the future included flying cars, robots, automation and incredible landscapes. There was also the more apocalyptic, dystopian, Nineteen Eighty-Four type of future possibilities. In both cases, it was a future where beautiful technologies dominated and stood at the center of society. Here we are today, realizing that it is not so simple to predict the future. Yes, we have the technologies to build that dream (for good or bad), yet the biggest challenge is not technology for technology but our imagination or the lack of it, our ability to understand the new narratives and rethink our infrastructure to be able to carry society into the future.

Cities are the cradle of civilization yet for the past (more than few) years we let nations dictated the decision-making process of the urban “want’ and “needs.” 30 years from now most of the world population will live in urban areas, and we have but a small window of opportunities to stop and rethink the stories of the future, to redesign technologies to be invisible and transparent, to build new digital infrastructure and interaction interfaces.

I do not see smart cities in the future; I see learning cities, rejuvenation cities. Cities that act as an inorganic extension of the organic society that defines its existence. I see cities that govern by new economic models and further decision-making processes, ones that are anchored in code rather 18th-century laws. I see cities that hide technology and uses it to augment the city intelligence rather than outsource it. I see virtual landscapes that enable new productivity models, new materials that will allow a self-sustained utilization of energy and value generated from below zero environmental impact. I see a city that knows that the most significant assets we have as humans are our creativity and curiosity and a such knows how to harness these qualities to feed its potentials.

2. Can you give us an example where technology made a huge positive impact on the functionality of cities?

The steam engine

3. In which field we can make the most significant progress in your opinion? Is that traffic, science, technology in service of people or something else?

There is a difference between what we can do and what we should do. We should rethink our infrastructure. We should rethink the narratives of ethics, morality, and trust; so they can transcend the physical into the digital. We should rebuild our education systems. To do all of that, to step into the unknown, we have technology and science.