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Acquiring, Evaluating, and Implementing Information in a Knowledge-Driven Economy

(September 2008) posted on Tue Sep 09, 2008

The old saying "knowledge is power" is more true today than ever before. Find out why old ways of thinking and applying information need to be changed in order for business and society to flourish.


By Mark A. Coudray

Most of us who’ve been involved with the evolution of digital imaging and the associated infrastructure are familiar with how hard it is to introduce new technologies. Friction always comes with newness. This month I want to deviate from the technical nature of our business to share some thoughts with you about the evolving rate of knowledge worldwide and how it will affect us.

Since 1965, when Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore published his landmark observation on the growth rate of integrated devices, the rate of human knowledge discovery has skyrocketed. Moore observed that the number of transistors that can be inexpensively placed on an integrated circuit is increasing exponentially, doubling approximately every two years. Furthermore, he observed that the cost to produce this was inversely proportional to the density increase. This simply means we double our processing capacity and sell it for half the cost of the previous generation. We’re all familiar with this in the form of cheaper, faster computers and more complex operating systems. Moore’s Law shows no sign of decline, at least for the foreseeable future.

What most people do not realize is that the rate of discovery follows a similar expansion. We’re all aware of the impact of digital technology in virtually every area of our lives. What most are unaware of is the rate of expansion. Generational doubling is not significant in the early phases of geometric expansion. But we’re at a point in the curve now where it’s becoming huge.

According Jack Uldrich’s book Jump the Curve: 50 Essential Strategies to Help Your Company Stay Ahead of Emerging Technologies, the entire base of human knowledge will double in the next six years. Think about that for a moment. Everything we know, since recorded history began almost 10,000 years ago, will double in the next six years. Put another way, half of mankind’s knowledge has not yet even been discovered as of today.

 

Collision with the industrial economy

This is a scary enough thought, but we need to look closer. For quite sometime now we’ve been on a collision course—and now we’re about to collide head-on. The decisions we make over the next few years will determine how the industrialized West will continue to remain viable in the face of ever increasing globalization and the relentless quest to find the lowest cost producers.


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