Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Disruption - Social AND Technological Paired

Three events that don't see connected too much, and yet they perhaps are showing one of the great "opportunity windows" of our time.

(1) Quite recently "U.Lab - Transforming Business, Society, and Self" a MOOC with about 40k registered participants led by M.I.T. Senior Lecturer Otto Scharmer has come to an end. (2) At the same time Singularity University (an institution founded by Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil and based on the impact of exponential technologies on bold challenges that humanity faces these times) is getting unexpected awareness. (3) In Paris are meeting the heads of state of 195 (!) countries to discuss, debate and come to a joint agreement on how to tackle what we get aware on a global scale across all possible boundaries: climate change

(1) When during a book stand stroll I stumbled across a book with a peculiar name "Presence" I wasn't really aware until the Financial Crisis hit Germany about a year later. Disruptive economic impact could be almost felt and seen over night, Qimonda a chip manufacturer closed in Dresden in mid 2009, a washing powder production plant in Genthin was about to be shut down in late 2008.

The question that came up in 2008 in my mind, "Isn't that a waste of human capital in the purest sense? Shutting down a plant. Resettling all the high-paid experts to other regions. Getting social work relations to regrow. ... can this be transformed in a positive way by bringing digital technology to create economic, and social value alike?"

Around that time the news about a newly set up institution in Silicon Valley and the name Ray Kurzweil reached the city of Dresden (2), and so the idea to pair social and technological impact found its way into a working prototype in the city over some months. Dozens of interested people joined in, and were eager to find solutions to the severe economic conditions. An old ballroom was quickly found, things began moving in even more exponential manner, and digital communication combined with "Theory U" (the follow-up book and approach for large-scale social change) was meant to be the "magic sauce" to make the "impossible reality".

The vision of pairing technology and social innovation (Theory U) took hold, and emerged over the years into several smaller prototypes, and experiments (to be found on this post on another blog).

The concept that emerged in summer 2014, largely after a professor in nano-technology had given a short interview on the essence of applied research and the current lack of academics, business and society to make positive wide-spread use through new products, and services made it into the Global Plan 2014 of the MIT Climate CoLab. It stayed there as a handed in proposal waiting to be grown at the appropriate opportunity.

(3) Lastly a few days ago on Monday, November 30, 2015 the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) started and the world is looking what the leaders of the world we come up with to tackle climate change, or in other words "to aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C"

Three disconnected seeming events that when you get yourself on your "mental helicopter" and rise some hundred meters above ground level, or even well into Space ("Overview Effect") there is a glimpse to do together as a global society what Kelvy Bird has captured during an event last year in the little town of Nauen close to Berlin.

We are all connected on this small planet called EARTH and eco-awareness at large through technology is possible, if we choose together to do so!

Why not? What is holding us individually and collectively (across all possible boundaries) back? What would set us loose to achieve?

In this sense welcoming your thoughts - Ralf