▶ Horace Dediu: “Transformation of Business and Society through Technology”

My talk on the future of things from Censhare’s FutureDay 2014 in Munich.

  • WFA67

    Many thanks for this, Horace. Wonderful data presentation.

    A couple of production notes: I found the reflections off your iPad dancing on the big screen to be very distracting. (They disappear when you turn toward the screen, so you might not notice them.) Occasional audio feedback (at the beginning) and a bit too much room noise in the mix distract some, too. I wonder if you might also slow down a bit, and avoid quick swipes on the iPad, which can be jerky on the screen, and also a momentary reorientation.

    Since watching/listening is a bodily experience, anything that produces a comfortable set of physical sensations adds nicely to the data.

    Looking forward to more of your style of thinking and graphical brilliance.

  • stefnagel

    Great talk. Study history. Yes. And the heart of history. Philosophy. Brush up your Aristotle and they will all kowtow.

    Here’s what Steve Jobs knew: Learning is our greatest source of pleasure as human beings. And play is the natural and traditional human approach to learning.

    Corporations may replace us users as persons legally and politically and their robots take our jobs. But corps are corpses, zombies, because they are all about work, work as the opposite of play, work as the opposite of creativity, work as the opposite of life.

    People, at heart, are not workers. We are players. Play is quintessentially human and infinite games a bit of the divine. See carse finite and infinite games.

    Committed as Apple is to creativity, and to privacy, it’s more than just innovative among corporations. It’s subversive to the purposes of corporations. A corp with a heart.

    Apple knows. So does Horace.

    • WFA67

      Hooray for Homo Ludens!

      • stefnagel

        Spot on: “Animals play, so they must be more than merely
        mechanical things. We play and know that we play, so we must
        be more than merely rational beings, for play is irrational.”

  • Frank

    I believe that is such great advice, Horace: That the Classics, Liberal Arts education, poetry and philosophy, will be more important than ever; Because that is where truth is.

  • poke

    The more I think about this, the more brilliant I think it is. What we’re seeing in those charts is accelerated adoption. This is much more interesting than the kind of hand-waving you see about accelerated innovation from people like Kurzweil. Now, this accelerated adoption primarily comes from gains in manufacturing and distribution. From what we might call the Age of Engineering, where the focus was on efficiency, operations, logistics, etc. But we’re up against the hard limits now. Software distribution happens at close to the speed of light, adoption curves are going vertical, there’s not much more to be gained from the Age of Engineering. So we’re entering a new era, the Age of Liberal Arts. The goal now is not efficiency, but understanding.

    This is revelatory. Everything needs to change.

  • As always, I always enjoy listening to your talks and the methods you like to over-lay data.

    On a side note: Your video looks like it has bad frame data in the HTML when viewed on Safari (no Flash).

  • Viking

    I really enjoyed the way you linked the products and people life cycles. Regarding the future, I have three kids and have thought about how best to equip them. I managed many sales teams over the years; one group had two outstanding sales people, one was fresh from university and one was in his ’60’s. My ‘aha’ moment was when I realized what made them exceptional was nearly identical: great attitude, strong work ethic, open to change, great interpersonal skills etc. With my kids, these are the things that I am trying to make sure they have. Perhaps giving them a liberal arts education does this as well?

  • Bruce_Mc

    I have heard and read a lot of people saying, “Follow your passion, trust your instincts.” This makes sense when there is nothing else left. “Do what your father or mother did,” “Do what you were trained to do,” will not work in these times of great change. Even “find the next big thing and participate in that,” (summarized in the movie “The Graduate” in one word: “Plastics”) will not work for long, as you have demonstrated in the bulk of this talk.

    I believe what you said briefly in the Q and A at the end is that passion and instinct can be developed and strengthened by certain kinds of education. More specific information and some recommendations might make an interesting subject for a separate talk, or for a web site with curriculum suggestions, or for an ebook, etc. I suspect you are already thinking this subject over in regards to your son’s education…

  • Walt French

    This interesting talk could have been presented as a response to the “Disruptive Technology is Bunk” meme that’s been floating around. A single chart of some popular consumer-product disruptions in the 20th century, some few—e.g., autos—spelled out in detail as to who and how the disruptors took over.

    Your mention of your grandmother made me recall all the disruptions my mother saw; the biggie absent from your list was modern antibiotics; their use alone probably accounts for a big part of the greater longevity in the chart. Given the importance of medical care to our lives (and our budgets), and of education (which has ALWAYS had to prepare us for future disruptions to our work styles), we can expect large disruptions there, too.

    • I believe I do mention the role of antibiotics. Around 11:11. The graph shows the adoption of consumer technologies and so does not include industrial or institutional use of technology. If I could plot the adoption rate of antibiotics and education it would make a compelling vision.

  • def4

    Oh, I know the answer: become a middle manager.
    No matter the business or technology, there’s plenty of room for people to coordinate, communicate, lead and inspire the poor suckers doing the actual work.

    Seriously now, we worry too much.
    The robots will take our jobs but they will take our more menial and boring ones.
    The people doing those jobs today will have a hard time before the collosal wealth generated will finally buy us enough compassion to start helping them instead of viewing them as slackers or untouchables.

  • Bertie

    Great talk, great ending. Your outlook on life reminds me a lot of Nick Carr,, Now if you could arrange a podcast together that would be something else again.

  • KirkBurgess

    What an interesting presentation, thanks for posting the video!

  • Luis Alejandro Masanti

    This is a ‘little’ confusing for me. The title is: ‘Transformation of Business and Society through Technology’ and the ‘final thought’ is: Study the classics!

    Maybe you must paraphrase Steve Jobs and say: “The future lays in the intersection of technology and liberal arts.”

    Great presentation. Thanks!

  • rose456456

    Business success is now largely depends of on technology uses. Those people are have more interest about more new tools they will be success in the early time.