When our Neurons are Connected to the Net


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Not too long ago, I was having a casual but meaningful digital conversation with a couple of gentlemen that I respect. They both have large networks, good street cred, and active digital profiles.

I asked the question: “Who are the top 3 people you respect in “the space”?

The response from one was thoughtful and quick. 3 names with brief reasons why. I benefited as relational capital and intelligence were quickly transferred. It was one interaction in a regular stream of sharing between us. I quickly found each of the mentioned names online. None of them have high digital influence scores, nor significantly active social profiles or presences. However, I began following them and evaluating some of the work and comments of theirs that was able to find.

Quickly I recognized that this was influence in action. Someone I knew, respected, and trusted had given me a gift, pointed me in a new direction, and even though in just a very small way, had changed my behavior for a few minutes, and perhaps my scope of view and thinking for a longer period of time.

What I also recognized that this interaction was not visible to any of today’s “influence ranking” systems like Klout, PeerIndex, Kred, or the recently released Little Bird.

I shared this observation with my two friends and asked “Will we ever have the technology to connect the dots between what just happened and true influence?” My other colleague quickly replied “when our neurons are connected to the net”.

But will we need to wait that long?

  • Are the reputation systems of today void of any value at all?
  • What if I don’t want everything I do and everyone I know to be available for consumption and analysis?
  • If I opt out, will I essentially be opting out of future society?

The concept introduces a whole slew of new considerations, opportunities, and privacy and transparency concerns.

Om Malik riffs in a recent post:

At present we rank photos, rate restaurants, like or dislike brands, retweet things we love. But if this idea of collaborative consumption takes hold — and I have no reason to think it won’t — we will be building a quantified society. We will be ranking real humans. The freelance workers — like the Uber drivers and Postmates couriers — are getting quantified. The best ones will continue to do well, but what about the others, the victims of this data darwinism? Do they have any protection or any rights?

We continue to leverage machines to help us to our jobs better. We continue to teach them more and more – how to reason and think like a human. The traditional response is that it can never be done. But IBM Watson‘s jeopardy perhaps requires us to take a deeper look and do a closer analysis. It is predicted that in just a few years, the processing power of IBM Watson will be contained in the size of a smartphone. We can and likely will have a super human intelligent friend with us. What is worthy of world wide fame and media coverage today may arguably be just part of human existence in just a few years. We’ve seen this pattern continually reinforce itself repeatedly over shorter and shorter time horizons over the last few decades.

Some will quickly reply that Watson is capable of finding facts, but the things that make us uniquely human, namely emotions; Being funny, being sexy, being loving, these are very complicated and intelligent behaviors may forever be separated from the realm of machines.

It’s a reasonable argument and one I currently subscribe to, but there is a dissenting argument that perhaps emotions are simply the highest form of humanity, may also be able to be taught and learned by machines. In fact, Ray Kurzweil predicts that in less than 20 years, computers will be capable and will perhaps surpass a full range of human capabilities.

This computer is thousands of times more powerful than the computer I used as a student, and it’s 100,000 times smaller. In 25 years, it will be a billion times more powerful in price performance, a billion times more powerful per dollar, and 100,000 times smaller.

It’ll be the size of a blood cell. They’ll be going through our body and keeping us healthy from the inside.

Not as futuristic as it sounds. People have already been doing that in animal models. There are people walking around with computers attached to their brains, like Parkinson’s patients, the latest generation of which allows you to download new software to the computer that’s connected into your brain from outside the patient. Right now that requires surgery because it’s pea-sized. But it will be blood-cell-size in 25 years, and we will be able to introduce it noninvasively.

We’re collectively on a unprecedented journey that surely holds unprecedented disruption and opportunity for individuals and organizations alike. We’re about to witness the next experiment be unleashed as Google Glass begins shipping to early adopters in the coming weeks. If you haven’t seen it, the video below provides a 2 minute preview of what’s possible today along the road to deeper human and technology integration.

  • What will these changes mean for your personal life?
  • What new opportunities are being unlocked for your organization?
  • How can you leverage the deeper integration between technology and humans to understand your customers better and deliver superior experiences for them?
  • What are the biggest barriers to leveraging these new technologies, internally and for your customer base?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Brian Vellmure
For more than a decade, Brian Vellmure has impacted hundreds of companies on their journey towards increased profitability through strategic customer focused initiatives. For more insightful thoughts and resources, please subscribe to Brian's blog by clicking here


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