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The development in the area of neurology is exploding and is spreading to new areas every day. It is inevitable that it will have huge implications on our society, and today I saw a new interesting term for the first time: Neurocapitalism. It was coined by Ewa Hess and Hennric Jokeit in an article in Eurozine which recently was translated from German to English.

[...] the neurosciences are extremely well funded by the state and even more so by private investment from the pharmaceutical industry. Their prominent status can be explained both by the number and significance of the problems they are attempting to solve, as well as the broad public recognition of these problems, and by the respectable profits to be made should they succeed. In other words, they are driven by economic and epistemic forces that emanate from the capitalism of today, and that will shape the capitalism of tomorrow – whatever that might look like.

[...]

The lifting of temporal and geographical constraints on communication nurtures the illusion of unlimited accessibility and mobility. Just as the libertarian phase of capitalism offered ways for the individual to optimise his or her external appearance and status, so the imperative of the future will be to optimise cognitive and emotional resources as well. The availability of an unlimited supply of effective neuro-enhancers, the opportunity to exchange experiences of using them with others via the Internet, and the utilitarian approach to ethics taken by many individuals, are all preparing the ground for the market success of substances that today are still being experimented with in the laboratory.

[From Eurozine - Neurocapitalism - Ewa Hess, Hennric Jokeit]

I am a bit hesitant to use the word Neurocapitalism since the word is implying that neuro related aspects will dominate the capitalist logic, but the authors are really underlining an important point. We are without doubt heading into an age where the results from neurophysiological research will be one of the major drivers behind the transformation of a lot of things in our daily lives.

The real reason why neurophysiological knowledge will have huge impact is rather that we are heading into a world where 1st person experiences, emotions and perspective will dominate. This shift is very well matched to what neurophysiology is promising: e g to solve people's (perceived) disorders and fix (perceived) shortcomings, but also to boost experiences and create (artificial) peace of mind. Institutions will, part from selling all the neuro-based drugs, devices and services to people, use the new knowledge to both manipulate people but also get new insight in what people wants in order to be able and develop and market products and services more efficiently and effectively.

So even if we will not have a Neurocapitalism, we will most likely have a market in where many, many products and services will be based on or transformed by the new knowledge, ideas and innovations that stem from neurophysiological research.

When I hold lectures and speeches about the future I have recently built the talks around the concept of "transition society" as an framing image. It is really hard not to overemphasize the increasing uncertainty and turbulence during this transition and quite often I get the question about if I really am optimistic about the future, and if that is the case, based on what.

In my answers I almost always refer to the inherent human ability to adapt and recreate the world wherever it seems to break apart. In fact we humans are much better at creating order than we are at maintaining it. It will most likely not be the same order, so for the institutions it will be really turbulent times ahead, but for humanity in general I am confident that new, adequate and probably better structures will emerge.

It is really nice to get scientific backing for ones beliefs so I felt really invigorated when I found this interesting paper by Ruben Durante (RISK, COOPERATION AND THE ECONOMIC ORIGINS OF SOCIAL TRUST: AN EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATION) via the Swedish blog Ekonomistas. This article correlates the evolution of trust to historic weather instability over a 500 year period from 1500 to 2000:

I find that regions characterized by higher year-to-year variability in precipitation and temperature display higher levels of trust. Furthermore, variation in social trust is driven by weather patterns during the growing season and by historical rather than recent variability. These results are robust to the inclusion of country fixed-effects, a variety of geographical controls, and regional measures of early political and economic development.

Since trust is the raw material from which social structures are built, when someone scientifically shows that trust grows when environmental uncertainty increases I become even more confident that humanity is going to manage this transition period as well.

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In an article in the Guardian the other day Georg Monbiot wonders why climate change denial is spreading in spite of what the scientific community states:

A survey last month by the Pew Research Centre suggests that the proportion of Americans who believe there’s solid evidence that the world has been warming over the past few decades has fallen from 71% to 57% in just 18 months(1). Another survey, conducted in January by Rasmussen Reports, suggests that, due to a sharp rise since 2006, US voters who believe that global warming is the result of natural causes (44%) now outnumber those who believe it is caused by human action (41%)(2).

A study by the website Desmogblog shows that the number of internet pages proposing that manmade global warming is a hoax or a lie more than doubled in 2008(3). The Science Museum’s Prove it! exhibition asks online readers to endorse or reject a statement that they’ve seen the evidence and want governments to take action. As of yesterday afternoon, 1006 people had endorsed it and 6110 had rejected it(4). On Amazon.co.uk, books championing climate change denial are currently ranked at 1,2,4,5,7 and 8 in the global warming category(5). Never mind that they’ve been torn to shreds by scientists and reviewers, they are beating the scientific books by miles. What is going on?

[From Monbiot.com » Death Denial]

He notes e g that there is a group of 65+ who seems to be more likely than other to deny that humans are causing climate change. Do their long life experience of technological optimism make them more likely to deny the threat? Or could it be that the accelerated discussion about climate change during the last couple of years have triggered some psychological defense mechanism working against negative stories so we boost our self image and behave like we were immortals?

There is however (at least) one other explanation that Monbiot don't cover. What if we are less and less inclined to believe in what scientists say?

Do we really believe in science anymore?

To me it is evident that people are less and less likely to believe in a scientific truth anymore. There seems to be a megatrend signalling that the emergence of the modern connected man is accompanied by a decreasing belief in truths which is instead replaced by the more pragmatic and quick concept of truthiness - the kind of truths you don't look up in books but search your guts to know if they are true!

Why does this happen? Here are a list of candidates for explaining the phenomenon, which by the way, will not go away any time soon.

  • the modern man (believe he) is more educated, connected and informed which make him or her believe he/she are in a better position to judge for him- or herself thus consequently more critical to truths that comes from authorities
  • increased transparency makes it much more easy to shoot down e g statements from authorities - and we do that constantly by critically swarming everything
  • the speed by which we produce new knowledge is constantly decreasing the half life of knowledge and truths - knowledge and truths becomes obsolete much faster
  • we are leading our daily lives in a fast and complex world with constant contradictions which we have to manage anyway - we have to be pragmatic and focus on what works here and now
  • every one of us is picking our own sources of information and thus perspectives, which causes us to spontaneous flock in clusters where local truths emerges
  • we also see the emergence of post secular insights - that many and the most import questions are not answered by the secular scientific methods

The period when scientific truths were highly celebrated by the many seems to have come to an end. Instead we are entering an age where truths are local, socially constructed, relative and consistency based like they most likely were in e g the middle ages and before.

What about the climate change issue?

It might just be that a certain group of people have come to change their perspective on the issue. If truths are fundamentally socially constructed it might be the explanation to why so many people started to worry about climate change at the same time - it was the tipping point - a state which also might change again when the hivemind is starting to worry about something else.

It is as usual the scientists who believe that their facts have changed the opinion of the people, a belief that might be completely wrong. What really happened was that a large enough group of people having a certain social status (consisting of e g a person named Stern) was starting to state something about climate change when at the same time occurs some dramatic natural disasters.

But the scientists believe that people at last listened to their truths...

Maybe it is on it's place to quote Robert Heinlein: "Man is not a rational animal; he is a rationalizing animal"

It is a bit weird that it is much more easy to write things in the unstructured and undemanding link stream i e my Tumblr feed, than to write things here. I will try to change that...

For some time I have been thinking about the role of destruction in change processes. That lead me e g to reread Asimov's Foundation, which I referred to some time ago in this blog.

One of the "natural laws" of civilizational collapse is that there seems to be a causal relation between a civilizational collapse and knowledge destruction. For example when Rome or the Mayan civilization fell, the whole people (which of course didn't die off and disappear) rather quickly also lost much of their knowledge and skills. Everything from mathematical, engineering and astronomical knowledge to a long row of artistic skills and more advanced farming skills seems to have quickly deteriorated and disappeared as a direct consequence of the fall a common organization.

It is obvious that there is a causal explanation that knowledge destruction could lead to societal collapse, but I am not asking that. My question concern the opposite direction of that causal link: why knowledge destruction follows societal collapse.

Maybe it is obvious to you, but to me this is really a riddle. Why does this happen and what mechanisms are in play here? Why can't e g a small group of people harbor key pieces of the knowledge and continue to develop it?

When watching a video of a recent and very interesting and insightful talk by Dr Anders Sandberg about Cloud Superintelligence, one possible piece of that puzzle suddenly fell into place. He showed in a clear way why many average people, connected to each other, can create extraordinary results even if there is quite a lot of noise in the system. He basically states that there is a direct relation between the number of individuals communicating to each other and collective group intelligence.

The purpose of his talk is to explain why the cloud is actually creating superintelligence, which we can see in e g wikipedia, but by going that path he also explains how and why communicating groups is achieving better results. And that there is a knee on the curve when the communicating groups are too small and don't achieve the same level of result.

To me this suggests that the major, and perhaps only, important factor for explaining the loss of knowledge due to societal collapse is that larger groups of people is being scattered into many smaller communicating groups, which, just because they consists of a smaller number of communicating individuals, is losing a lot of their collaborative group intelligence. As a consequence they probably take much worse collaborative decisions when it e g comes to electing leaders, who to collaborate with or how to use the available resources in the best way.

Watch Anders' talk for yourself and listen to his explanation:

Another consequence of this concerns, if it is true, not the past, but the future and not just that we are on our way to create a Collaborative Superintelligence: modern communication technology (read "the Internet") might for the first time in history provide us with a capacity to, even if our societies are structurally collapsing, continue communication in sufficiently large groups, which in turn most likely will let us maintain our knowledge and collaborative IQ.

I e IF we succeed in protecting our global communication infrastructure from the defenders of national security (which most often mean their own position of power)...

If anyone is interested in the theories why civilizations fall I can recommend the book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond and of course the important book about group intelligence: Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki.

Don Tapscott, is stating the paradigmatic effect of Internet on the whole society in this short and radical movie. He states that:

  • The web is creating a global infrastructure for collaboration (which leads to disruption and confusion)
  • As a result, all of our institutions have come to the end of their life-cycle
  • The current recession is a crucial punctuation point in human history - the point where we said that we need to reset, the point where the industrial economy has finally run out of gas
  • This paradigm shift is creating a crisis of leadership
  • The Digital Natives are inheriting this situation - and they think very differently
  • Kids are now the authority on many issues
  • We have 40 years to re-industrialize the planet

[From MediaFuturist: Don Tapscott: Anybody that thinks we come out of this recession and get back to business as usual is deeply mistaken]

I think he is sort of right and I basically argue something similar, but I try to avoid his mistake of attribute everything to just the Internet. Internet is a really important driving force that shapes a lot of things right now, but both the end of the industrial era and the new challenges we see today is a result of many other important driving forces as well.

But it is a brilliantly short and crispy video with a message:

Sometimes a single word can spark a whole new set of thoughts. That is what the term neoteny did to me in the beginning of the summer.

So, you don't know what neoteny is? Neither did I until an acquaintance explained the term to me when talking about dogs and how they have evolved in relation to humans.

En Wikipedia you can read this:

Neoteny (pronounced /niːˈɒtɨniː/), also called juvenilization, is the retention, by adults in a species, of traits previously seen only in juveniles (a kind of pedomorphosis), and is a subject studied in the field ofdevelopmental biology. In neoteny, the physiological (or somatic) development of an animal or organism is slowed or delayed (alternatively, seen as a dilation of biological time). Ultimately this process results in the retention, in the adults of a species, of juvenile physical characteristics well into maturity. The Englishword neoteny is borrowed from the German Neotenie, the latter constructed from the Greek νέος (young) and τείνειν (tend to). The standard adjectival form is "neotenous"[2], although "neotenic" is often used.

In short: Neoteny is an evolutionary phenomenon describing when adults are showing juvenile properties, usually physical changes due to natural selection, where juvenile properties is showing up in adults and seems to give an evolutionary advantage of some kind. Traditional examples are hairlessness, cuteness and some other pedomorphic properties which seems to be regarded as attractive and either increase sexual reproduction or reduce risk to be killed.

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Domesticated dogs, and especially small lapdogs, are the standard examples of this phenomenon. Probably because it is obvious that many lapdogs more resembles eternal puppies, but also because their behavioral development seems to be stopped in a juvenile state by us humans who act as their eternal parents.

Humans show these kind of changes as well and biologists use to refer to our hairlessness and the now almost general lactose intolerance neotenous changes.

In recent years it is also suggested that behavioral and other psychological changes, like e g delayed maturity, might basically be aspects of the same phenomenon. This is called psychological neoteny and is discussed by Bruce Charlton, a british psychologist. He argues that the phenomenon of delayed maturity (psychological neoteny) is helping people with maintaining the childish naiveté and creativity longer in a world that keeps changing and defies planning. This is however a teleological explanation which if it is right (if he succeed in getting his causal chain right...) just explain things at a micro level. An argument against Bruce Charlton is of course, that this can't be a evolutionary phenomenon since it doesn't follow as a consequence of natural selection.

Why does this strange phenomenon of neoteny occur here and there in nature? Some theories suggests that it is a way for nature to back about of a evolutionary path. Maybe it is some kind of backtracking in order to try to fix some design flaws with this particular branch, assuming it to have the general properties right? Just some kind of minor adjustment - a scrambling some of the minor properties. Maybe it is one of evolutions economic principles, which is tried first, before some more brutal fitness test is forced to cut off the whole branch as failed?

Regardless it seems to be signaling a mismatch between a species and it's environment.

What is so interesting about this phenomenon of neoteny when we talk about the future of humanity?

Basically two things:

  1. Neoteny might be interpreted as a way for nature to back out of an evolutionary path
  2. Humans is showing clear signs of an accelerating neoteny when it comes to psychological behavior - if we grow up at all, we do it much later than we did just 50 years ago

Could it be the case that the general psychological behavioral trend of resistance to leave adolescence we see in the Western world, and which is rapidly spreading across the globe, is a neotenous phenomenon with far reaching evolutionary consequences?

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If it really is a deeply rooted and evolution based reaction, which is triggered by the situation we experience around us, it will most likely continue for some time and will have consequences. What is even more interesting for me as a futurist is that it might also be a prodrome for some other larger evolutionary effects which awaits around the corner.

Is the delayed maturity of humans telling us something really important about the evolutionary status of humanity?

When searching for others who have written about neoteny I of course found a blog post by David Brin, who seemed to have been interested in the concept some time in 1995, maybe as research for a book...

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Today FuturePundit reports about the decline in healthy life style in the US. chips-in-bowl.jpg

Investigators from the Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston compared the results of two large-scale studies of the US population in 1988-1994 and in 2001-2006. In the intervening 18 years, the percentage of adults aged 40-74 years with a body mass index greater than 30 has increased from 28% to 36%; physical activity 12 times a month or more has decreased from 53% to 43%; smoking rates have not changed (26.9% to 26.1%); eating 5 or more fruits and vegetables a day has decreased from 42% to 26%; and moderate alcohol use has increased from 40% to 51%. The number of people adhering to all 5 healthy habits has decreased from 15% to 8%.

[From FuturePundit: Healthy Lifestyles On Decline In United States quoting the June 2009 issue of The American Journal of Medicine]

(In the light of new research one can of course wonder about the validity of the recommendations when i e fructose seems to be bad to your health rather than good.)

The important question for me as a futurist is to understand which are the major factors making this happen and what could potentially make it change?

Part of the explanation can be that we are more collectively adaptive beings than rational individuals. This is suggested by the experience of the vast majority of us share: most of us don't change our behavior even if our doctor tell us we will die early if we continue to live the way we do. To quote the book "Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life" (Alan Deutschman) we need both to reframe our conceptualization of our situation and move to a different social context which support the new behavior to actually change.

Another part of the explanation has most likely something to do with our resistance to change based on advices or recommendations because of our declining faith in authorities. A trend which is boosted by the exploding amount of new knowledge which increasingly is experienced as perspective changing and even contradictory. This is causing us to diminish the area of reference to one which we can understand i e to a more myopic and consistancy based view of truth which I usually refer to as truthiness - a truth which we feel in your stomach rather than looking up in a book (or on the net). The result is that our close environment (or even yourself) is the only frame of reference that you use to evaluate if a statement is true or not.

Both of these factors are suggesting that the key to behavioral change lies in the complex group logic - at a spiritual level - rather than at a rational psychological level.

In my head this refers me to what Axelrod wrote in his important book "The Evolution of Cooperation: Revised Edition" where he used the concept of shadow of the future to explain why cooperation changed during different collective perspectives of the future. Some time ago I referred to that concept in order to blog about why we are becoming more violent, more careless and more likely to cheat (in Swedish). The basic idea about this is that if we are likely to have a future together, we are cooperating. But if we don't have a future together and are not likely to meet again, we tend to cheat on each other more.

Could it be, that if our collective view of the future - the shadow of the future - is playing a major role in explaining how we behave socially, it also has some explanatory power for how well we take care of ourselves? This would imply that this change towards unhealthy behavior is a social macro-group behavior which might continue until we change our view of the future, which to many citizens seems rather gloomy today.

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Asimov's Foundation The other weekend I reread Asimov's Foundation trilogy, one of the brilliant books that might have influenced me to work within the area of foresight. In these times it might be appropriate to use one of the major SF novels of all times in order to reframe the situation. I quote here from the first chapter when the scene is set and the famous Dr Seldon is questioned about his plans and has just mentioned the coming fall of the Empire:

Q. (theatrically) Do you realize, Dr Seldon, that you are speaking of an Empire that has stood for for twelve thousand years, through all the vicissitudes of the generations, and which has behind it the good wishes and love of a quadrillion human beings?

A. I am aware of the present status and the past history of the Empire. Without disrespect, I must claim a far better knowledge of it than any in this room.

Q. And you predict its ruin?

A. It is a prediction which is made by mathematics. I pass no moral judgements. Personally, I regret the prospect. Even if the Empire were admitted to be a bad thing (an admission I do not make), the state of anarchy which would follow its fall would be worse. It is that state of anarchy which my project is pledged to fight. The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity – a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and a movement to stop.

Q. It it not obvious to anyone that the Empire is as strong as it ever was?

A. The appearance of strength is all about you. It would seem to last for ever. However, Mr Advocate, the rotten tree-trunk, until the very moment when the storm-blast breaks it in two, has all the appearance of might that it ever had. The storm-blast whistles through the branches of the Empire even now. Listen with the ears of psychohistory, and you will hear the creaking.

Q. (uncertainly) We are not here, Dr Seldon, to lis–––

A. (firmly) The Empire will vanish and all its good with it. Its accumulated knowledge will decay and the order it has imposed will vanish. Interstellar wars will be endless; interstellar trade will decay; population will decline; worlds will lose touch with the main body of the Galaxy – and so matters will remain.

Q. (a small voice in the middle of a vast silence) For ever?

A. Psychohistory, which can predict the fall, can make statements concerning the succeeding dark ages. The Empire, gentlemen, as has just been said, has stood twelve thousand years. A Second Empire will rise, but between it and our civilization will be one thousand generations of suffering humanity. We must fight that.

Q. (recovering somewhat) You contradict yourself. You said earlier that you could not prevent the destruction of Trantor; hence, presumably, the fall – the so-called fall of the empire.

A. I do not say now that we can prevent the fall. But it is not yet too late to shorten the interregnum which will follow. It is possible, gentlemen, to reduce the duration of anarchy to a single millenium, if my group is allowed to act now. We are at a delicate moment in history. The huge, onrushing mass of events must be deflected just a little – just a little – It cannot be much, but it may be enough to remove twenty-nine thousand years of misery from human history.

Q. How do you propose to do this?

A. By saving the knowledge of the race. The sum of human knowing is beyond any man; and thousand men. With the destruction of our social fabric, science will be broken into a million pieces. Individuals will know much of the exceedingly tiny facets of which there is to know. They will be helpless and useless by themselves. The bits of lore, meaningless, will not be passed on. They will be lost through the generations. But, if we now prepare a giant summary of all knowledge, it will never be lost. Coming generations will build on it, and will not have to rediscover it for themselves. One millenium will do the work of thirty thousand.

Here it is worth noting that the main inspiration too this novel, which started as a series of short stories by a 22 year old Asimov, published from 1942 and forward, came from Gibbon's famous work "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire". When I see it in this perspective I can't avoid thinking of the role of the monasteries which worked as knowledge capsules during the dark ages.

What does Dr Seldon say about what causes the fall of the Empire:

  • a rising bureaucracy
  • a receding initiative
  • a freezing of caste
  • a damming of curiosity
  • ...a hundred other factors

And the effects will be:

  • its accumulated knowledge will decay
  • the order it has imposed will vanish
  • interstellar wars will be endless
  • interstellar trade will decay
  • population will decline
  • worlds will lose touch with the main body of the Galaxy
  • ...and so matters will remain

Do these bullets sound familiar?

Our thinking about what we have to do is most likely not in the same line as Dr Seldon – mainly because we don't have the luxury of having developed the science of psychohistory – but realizing what stage we really are in, when it comes to societal and civilization development maturity cycle in combination with ecological and technological reality is crucial if we are going to meet the future in a way which don't turn out to be a horrifying apocalypse.

So go back and read the quote again and come back with comments about differences and similarities between this stage of our society and maybe the roman empire, or Asimov's Empire.

Since we can trace the birth of many of our defining concept of this society back to the end of the middle ages, why not try to mirror what is happening today in how the world looked like then? Here is X things that I have collected which sometimes seems to be rewinded: Organizing The decline of the nation state as the dominant organizing principle Hierarchical structures are challenged by the open spaces and market way of organizing things - innovation Knowledge and world view Increasingly relativistic view of knowledge - broadcasting model is challenged and is losing it's politically and socially defining qualities The decline of the idea of a better future - the idea of progress The text-based knowledge society is challenged by a world of verbally told stories and images Breakdown of the quantitative perspective and re-emergence of a qualitative world view and geographical perspective - death of distance, valuing the people and the experience of a specific place without so much romancing about how far away it is from home' Re-emergence of the risk society - the world out there is a dangerous place and we need to be protected Value creation Re-emergence of a non money value exchange systems - open source, make, prosumtion Break down of the immaterial ownership logic, where   

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To be able to say something about the future in turbulent and redefining times as we are now, you have to revisit history. Since we can trace the birth of many of our defining concept of this society back to the end of the middle ages, why not try to mirror what is happening today in what the world looked like then? Can we weave the threads back and forth in an intelligent way in order to create new knowledge??

Here are 9 things that I have collected, which to me seems to be rewinding our society (back to normal?) in one way or the other. Think of them as threads or aspects or images to be used as a foundation for (re?)framing a discussion about the future.

Organizing

1 - The decline of the nation state as the dominant organizing principle is occuring on many levels. Historians date the nation state dominance back to 1648, a point in time when it became clear that almost all other organizations claiming power needed to relate to the nation. Since the fertile ground of the nation states have been so effective in providing testing grounds as well as long term investment opportunities many organizations have now outgrown the national borders. Another aspect is that new communication technology supports forming of networks and communities regardless of national borders. A third aspect is that many of today's challenges are to big for any single nation state to manage - global collaborative efforts and e perspective beyond borders are necessary ways of approaching these.

2 - Hierarchical structures are challenged by the emergences of networks, open spaces and market model of organizing things. In a time when a stable environment allowed for big, long term investments in repeatable tasks, the hierarchical model for organizing things became the dominant one. Since some time individuals have gained organizational powers for themselves which have made problem solving and value creation following more direct connections between people, often completely bypassing the hierarchies. Resilience and adaptivity have stepped up to be more important than productivity and efficiency which is creating deep challenges to most traditional organizations. Since some time it have become evident that innovation simply doesn't happen in stable, hierarchical organizations. It rather happens in spaces and markets where skills, knowledge areas and people meet in new ways.

Knowledge and world view

3 - We are returning to a subjective and relativistic view of knowledge, which is more obviously socially constructed and culturally defined than we have admitted since the era of enlightenment. The driving forces behind this change lies in the increasing educational levels together with a revolution in communication technologies which have made the broadcasting model obsolete and therefore is losing it's politically and socially homogenizing powers. Together with that the knowledge explosion and the emergence of the modern man who is more critical and have a strong need to create and defend consistency in his own situation.

4 - The decline of the idea of progress and a better future. When we can't imagine a better future and everything is leveling or is pointing downwards we are returning to a world view based on what exists here and now and flocks around what we think is stable and fundamental truths in order to live our lives.

5 - The text-based knowledge society is challenged by a world of verbally told stories and images. Technology today, and increasingly in the future, provides us with tools and infrastructures that enable us to express ourselves and spread knowledge without learning to master reading or writing. Even if some of us already have basic literary skills it is often perceived to be so much more convenient (more natural?) to consume information in the form of images, video and audio form, that we seems to prefer this before books and articles. That these forms also allows multitasking, something increasingly more important in a more stressful society also adds to the equation.

6 - Qualitative and subjective aspects challenges quantitive and objective views of geography. If you look at medieval world maps, Mappa Mundi, they are usually geographically incorrect and rather mirror people's world views rather than what the world really looks like. Since the emergence of science and global business the quantitative qualities e g distance, terrain and relative location have since the exploration era of the early 1500:s become extremely dominant way of looking at the world. With the communication and transportation revolutions we got trains, TV, airplanes and now Internet which all have contributed to the death of distance, which rendered many of these geographical aspects less relevant. At least relatively. Today it is not as important where you produce things, where you live or go to vacation in a geographical sense, but rather from a qualitative perspective. We rather talk about if the oranges are tasting better if they are from Florida or if they are from Spain, how you experienced your trip to Bangkok or Mumbai and if the quality of the systems are better if they come from Silicon Valley than from Bangalore.

7 - Re-emergence of the risk society. After having lived in a relatively stable world where many of the earlier threats have been taken care of by the nation state we again regard the world out there as a dangerous place which we need to be protected from.

Value creation

8 - Re-emergence of value creating without changing money - since the middle ages and though the industrial revolution the society have increasingly been permeated with the concept of money. With dramatically lower transaction costs due to new communications technology, have suddenly been able to communicate, share ideas and information almost free. The result is that we have found that a long row of other values can compete with the pure monetary values. This have created a wide variety of value creating processes which almost not involve any money at all. Major examples are the popular open source/open content movements which today produce much more than just software, a vast array of global innovation, idea sharing and DIY communities, citizen journalism and the spontaneous emergence of catastrophic aid activities when people are in need.

9 - Immaterial ownership logic under siege. When knowledge and education increases, information and data can spread freely to virtually no cost, and almost everyone have the capacity to participate in the innovation and value creating processes the artificial construct of immaterial rights are becoming much less valid than before. Focus seems to gravitate back to more down-to-earth physical and service values which are expensive to produce and distribute.

Comments or ideas?