The Danger of Dusty Ideas (Social Media Week 2013)

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Information about The Danger of Dusty Ideas (Social Media Week 2013)

Published on March 4, 2014

Author: t4g



Facts expire. It’s invisible. It’s dangerous. And it happens all the time. Every industry is built on unspoken facts and outdated assumptions that are never questioned. Then, technology changes and those facts and assumptions suddenly become untrue. The result is massive disruption. Your industry might be next. Will you be ready?

For more information contact

The Danger of Dusty Ideas Technological Disruption in our Modern Economy Paul Barter, Sept. 2013 @barterpaul #smwto

You’re employed or you’d like to be employed. How will you avoid this? How will you capitalize on it? How will you cause it? What should you look for? For your employer and yourselves

Today’s goal: Give you a new way of thinking about disruption. Apply it to some cool new tech.

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know. Donald Rumsfeld

Unknown Unknowns Known Knowns Known Unknowns

? Unknown Unknowns Known Knowns Known Unknowns

Unknown Knowns Unknown Unknowns Known Knowns Known Unknowns

What the hell is an unknown known? Things that you don’t know that you know.

Thanks, that didn’t help. Unknown knowns are the things that you act as if you believe.

(Think dusty facts.)

Music industry’s unknown known: Music is a thing.

What happened: Music records were physical things. For a really long time. Then came the internet. Music was no longer a physical thing. The industry still acted like it was. And lost.


What happens: A problem requires a solution. The solution becomes a convention. A better solution is invented. No one tells you. You keep doing the same thing. You become lunch.

Disruption can happen when an unknown known flips from true to false. Technology does this.

OK, now the good stuff.

Exponential Growth Robotics & A.I. 3D Printing Internet of Things Brain-Machine Interfaces Genetics Nanotechnology Abundant Energy Augmented Reality And so on…

What’s the technology? What unknown knowns does it invalidate? What’s the business impact?

Exponential Growth

What’s the invalidated unknown known? That the future will be like the past.

What’s the business impact? You can’t keep acting like the future will resemble the past. You can’t keep doing the same things.

Robots & A.I.

What are the invalidated unknown knowns? Human labour is cost effective. Human labour is effective. “My job is safe.”

What’s the business impact? You might need less employees. Your customers might not be employed. Your customers will have an abundance of free time.

3D Printing

What are the invalidated unknown knowns? Economies of scale. Things need to be standardized. The way we think of objects. Complexity is expensive. Things get built in factories. We need supply chains. Things have to be assembled. Time to market is long. Cost of failure is high.

What’s the business impact? Your product may not be special. Lawsuits will be problematic Experiences will matter, charge for those. Assembly costs will plummet. Reduced overseas manufacturing & shipping. No need for human (or robot) building labour. Big need for 3D designers.

Internet of Things (and Abundant Computing)

What are the invalidated unknown knowns? Objects are dumb. The internet is stuck in computers. Connectivity is difficult or expensive. Information is scarce. Privacy exists. We know ourselves best.

What’s the business impact? You know how your products are used. You know more about your customers than they know about themselves. Data security matters. (Or maybe not?)

Brain-Machine Interfaces


Exponential Growth Robotics & A.I. 3D Printing Internet of Things Brain-Machine Interfaces Genetics And how about social media?

You, and your future industries, have a bunch of dusty old ideas you’ve forgot you’re using. New technology is going to break them. Watch out, question everything, do great things.

Thanks! We are built on a solid foundation with great people who are creative, dedicated and passionate about what they do. Paul Barter Vice President, Research @BarterPaul @t4g

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