Can the human brain be able to keep up any more?

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The human level of knowledge will not be able to compete with machines in the future. But human intelligence, working with technology, is essential for making companies successful in the future.

Our world is transforming. In the year 2050, the world population is expected to be about 10 billion. As a result, more people have to share limited resources. The world is undergoing a major process of digitalisation, and where the expanding IT sector has an increasing environmental impact. Tech companies need to lead in a greater process of change: from sustainable IT to IT for sustainability.

”Technology is quite critical for restructuring society in a way that respects planetary boundaries. I can see that digitalisation makes it possible to make just about all business activities more efficient. So far, we’re only scratching the surface,” says HPE sustainability officer Christopher Wellise.

From global to urban hubs

In parallel with this, we are facing the largest urbanisation process in the history of humankind. As a result, FN estimates that two-thirds of the world population will live in cities in the year 2050.

”We were born in a world with about 200 countries. Now, this world is turning into a world with 600 cities,” says Kjell Nordström, an economist and lecturer with a focus on the future.

In January, he lectured on change and new perspectives in a lecture on the HPE Sales Summit in Barcelona. There, Kjell Nordström sketched some prominent development trends, urbanisation being one, which in turn links to another development trend: de-globalisation.

”After World War Two, we saw the world open up after years of closed borders, developing into the globalised world we see today. Therefore we are today now witnessing the first tendencies in the opposite direction,” says Kjell Nordström.

First signs of regionalisation

What we are observing now, according to Kjell Nordström, are the early signs of a change. From a world where companies act on and are drawn to, a global market to regionalisation.

”Multinational companies are divesting their international operations and returning to the home regions they came. You will also see that the profitability of local companies is higher in Europe and the USA than in multinational companies. This is in total contrast to what it was like ten years ago,” says Kjell Nordström.

It seems that the hyper-concentrated urban hubs are replacing the giant arena of globalisation, where the central part of all value creation will happen. And maybe this means that there will be a shift in power from nations to urban concentrations in the future.

Power and money concentrate in urban areas

Even today, we see how power and wealth focus in urban areas. Kjell Nordström suggests that one driving force behind this development is a unique human ability: silent, or implicit, intelligence.

This is different from traditional intelligence by being generated by experience, spending time in a specific environment or context. Living, eating and being in a certain environment for many years.

”Many of us today believe that this silent knowledge is a driving force behind the growth of the world’s growing areas. And, that is why we have places like Silicon Valley,” says Kjell Nordström.

Human intelligence a success factor

The leading companies of the future will probably base on precisely that kind of silent knowledge.

”Because of it, uniqueness is created. This will change much of what we do in companies and organisations. They’re going to look very different in a few years,” says Kjell Nordström.

But the pull of people into the cities at a historically unprecedented rate is a process which, in turn, seems to be linked to the development of technology. Because even though our gadgets are getting better and faster, and makes it possible for us to be independent of place, the opposite seems to happen.

”The better the devices, the more rapid the urbanisation,” says Kjell Nordström.

The human brain can not handle the explosion of data

Because of this technological development, the amount of data created by us humans and our machines is growing exponentially. Currently, the amount of data in all areas of knowledge doubles every second year.

So there’s a virtual explosion of data and knowledge going on, and it’s happening at a speed that the human brain couldn’t possibly keep up with.

So how do we create meaning and benefits from all this data when we are not capable of handling it ourselves?

Artificial intelligence and machine learning may be one answer. It allows us to create intelligent systems that will be able to make use of the enormous resources provided for us by all this data.


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