The Coming Information Age (Possible Book Outline)

As I am blogging my way through the various aspects of a transition to the Information Age I am still keeping in mind that eventually I would like to gather up all the material into a book. So here is possible outline for such a book. Would love to get feedback on what’s missing (or too much), different possible orders and anything else that comes to mind. So please fire away with comments!

1. Introduction / Motivation

— fundamental premise: industrial -> information is a transition as important as hunter gatherer -> agriculture and agricultural -> industrial

— why now? because we can see the beginning of the changes, examples: self driving cars, face recognition, machine translation

— changes build slowly at first but then accelerate, example: up to 1900 almost 50% of people still worked in agriculture

— prior transitions did not go very well and we now have more destructive power at our hands than ever before (nuclear, biological, etc)

— much of the policy debate is stuck in the industrial age and amounts to re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic

2. Industrial Age Recap

— brought us extraordinary material progress - examples: air conditioners, cars, medicine, life span

— not yet equally distributed but have been making great strides in eliminating poverty globally

— fundamental engine of the industrial age: consumer demand -> products made with capital and labor -> wages to labor -> more demand

— capitalism became the winning model in the industrial age because entrepreneurs created innovative products to meet consumer needs

3. Industrial Age Breaking Down

— substituting machines for labor, so wages declining and eventually going away and with them the demand for more stuff

— initially counteracted this challenge through consumer debt

— already producing more stuff than we need to meet our material needs (hence the rise advertising)

— research shows that stuff doesn’t make us happy, experiences do, biggest growth need is spiritual (not material)

— facing species threats including environment, asteroids, disease that need to be addressed at global (not national) level

4. Information Age Arriving

— first time in human history that everyone on planet is connected instantly at no (marginal) cost

— information is non-rival - we should share as much of it as possible (eg how to build an electric car)

— combined with exponential improvements in compute power and storage

— makes many things possible that were previously impossible, examples: collectively creating and editing an encyclopedia, teaching a machine to translate between languages, find cures for diseases

5. Fundamental Change 1: From Hierarchies to Networks

— increased information flow allows for more cooperation and more motivation

— individuals become peers in networks

— networks are resilient and global

6. Fundamental Change 2: Technological Deflation

— automation, on-demand manufacturing

— asset utilization

— rise of consumer surplus

— importance of the information commons

— attacking healthcare and education

— energy?

7. Fundamental Change 3: Unbundling of the Job

— separating of income, meaning, daily structure, health insurance

— guaranteed basic income in a deflationary world

— educating for motivation

8. Fundamental Change 4: Moving Past the Nation State

— the fall of artificial boundaries

— the rise of cities

— from big government to information standards

9. Threats Along the Way

— incumbents against the Internet (eg re-imposing geographic boundaries, overextending copyright) 

— breakdown of attention and money in politics

— digital balkans and lack of empathy

— surveillance versus open sharing

— income and wealth inequality in the transition

10. How to Prepare

— individuals: fight for the Internet, pursue passion

— parents: motivation is paramount

— educators: make connections

— companies: empower networks

— governments: embrace transparency

11. Outlook: Towards Abundance

Posted: 12th June 2014Comments

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