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The future of knowledge (my contribution to learning technologies magazine 12/2013)

My latest guest post on the future of knowledge and learning recently went live at ILT (more details about what they do are here). Thanks to Donald and ILT for asking me to contribute. learning_tech_logo

PDF version of my contribution:  The Future of Knowledge – Inside Learning Technologies & Skills 2013- GL PDF

The torrent of information and knowledge flowing into our mobile devices – and the global network delivering it – is rapidly changing our lives, says Gerd Leonhard.

“We live in exciting times as the very definition of information and knowledge is rapidly rewritten by technology and by how we as humans change because of it. I often use this theme in my keynote speeches, and it rings truer every day. Mobile devices have already become our external brains, the ‘extensions of man’ (as Marshall McLuhan famously said), and this will only become more dramatic as they move ‘onto’ us (Google Glass and iris overlays) and ‘into’ us (implants and new nano-tech products). The oceans of information and knowledge (and some occasional wisdom) that flows into our mobile devices; and the global network that it connects to, is rapidly changing the way live, buy, sell, consume… and learn. This is as inevitable as the switch from horses to trains. The key issues here will of course be our ethics, and our social contracts that will govern how, when and why we employ these technologies. Certainly, all this external data and distilled knowledge that is not actually embodied within us (i.e. that exists without context and is only an adjunct, after all) is not the same true realisation and comprehensive physical understanding that we are really after when developing meaningful new ideas, projects and products. In my view, external knowledge is interesting and indeed often extremely useful, but in many ways it is probably as real as a Facebook friend (which is to say, it may be real, or it may not – it depends). Intelligent software engines, artificial intelligence services and ultra-smart machines are being invented and deployed in every sector of our society, whether it’s for maps, mobile apps, search engines, automotive products, utilities, climate controls and smart meters, or social care and services for the disabled or elderly. Intelligent software can now show us the way to our next meeting (even if we didn’t ask for it – see Google Now), predict traffic jams (see Waze), suggest other books to read, find worthy investment opportunities or rate the likelihood of finding a good match on a dating platform. Soon, many jobs requiring some kind of human attention will be automated and taken over by ‘smart machines’: taxi-drivers (think Google’s self-driving car), check-out clerks (think RFID and NFC), low-level instructors (think MOOC and online learning platforms), basic financial analysts (witness what Google already did in the travel business)….

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And here are my 2 keynote talks on the same topic

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