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Beyond the Speed of Light

Speed of light

Beyond the Speed of Light

Here’s a question for you; what do the following quotes from the news this week have in common? “In 2014, for the...

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Here’s a question for you; what do the following quotes from the news this week have in common?

“In 2014, for the first time, an esport’s streamed broadcast attracted more viewers than the NBA Finals. More than 27 million people around the world tuned in to the League of Legends World Championship.”

“General Motors is launching a car-sharing program. It’s called Maven, it’s available in exactly one city, and, frankly, it’s an unexciting riff on ZipCar. But GM isn’t really competing with ZipCar. It’s placing a bet on the future.”

"Speed is the new currency of business. The most dangerous place to make a decision is in the office. We have these incredible devices and this is what makes everything move faster”, says CEO Marc Benioff.

“Current trends could lead to a net employment impact of more than 5.1 million jobs lost to disruptive labour market changes over the period 2015–2020, with a total loss of 7.1 million jobs— two thirds of which are concentrated in the Office and Administrative job family.”

“Digital Asset Holdings, the blockchain startup run by former JPMorgan Chase & Co. banker Blythe Masters, raised $52 million from investors and won a contract to radically speed up settlement in Australia’s stock market.”

“When Sarah Palin backed Donald Trump in Iowa this week, Trump said it was an endorsement that his closest competitor, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, “desperately wanted.”

“Scientists said on Thursday they recorded particles travelling faster than light - a finding that could overturn one of Einstein's fundamental laws of the universe.”

The answer? They’re all messages from the future, telling us that the world is changing faster than ever. Literally faster than the speed of light.

Though it’s a cliché to point this out, and though it’s not particularly a view I’ve always subscribed to – the Cloud revolution has proceeded much more slowly than I thought it would in 2000 – it feels like it is increasingly true that the future is rushing at us faster and faster. Approaches, norms, models, ways of life that have been the backdrop during my 53 years on Planet Earth, and which one might have assumed would long outlast me, and you, are seemingly crumbling before our very eyes.

Watching sports on TV, owning a car, answering a message the next day, planning on holding the same job for years, using a bank, trusting the elders and betters in charge, believing in Einstein, are all going the way of all flesh. (There’s another Biblical reference that you can mangle Donald; you’re welcome).

The conversations in Davos, and Manchester NH, and Columbus Ohio this week have been, at their core, all been about the same thing - how to cope with the future?

To some the answer is terrifying and induces a reaction of fear and anger and retrenchment. To others, the future is liberation; the freedom to create and invent. Both reactions are entirely human and understandable. To be unsympathetic to the plight of those for whom the future is bleak wouldn’t make your Mum proud. To stand in the way of those grabbing the future with both hands would make your Mum cry.

One of my favorite books is Reporting the Revolutionary War by Todd Andrlik. Its sub-heading is Before It Was History, It Was News. All the news headlines above will, in time, be history. Our grandchildren will study what we are in the midst of in the same way that we studied Robespierre and the Terror, John Logie Baird and the birth of television, Einstein’s days in the patent office in Bern. They’ll ask us “what was it like to own a car?”, “why did you have to go to a bank?”, “how could you stand to work for that company – any company – for two years?” The historically curious will probably find our answers interesting.

I don’t know about you, but I find this realization incredibly exciting. I’m with Joe – The Future is Unwritten This is the week that we found out that things can travel faster than the speed of light. If that doesn’t blow your mind you’ve been spending too much time doing whatever it is you spend too much time doing. The implications of this are so huge (there you go again Donald) that they’re well beyond my grasp of my puny brain. Something that we’ve believed to be immutable is mutable. If there’s something beyond the speed of light then who knows what else is up for grab in the days ahead? Everything I guess...

As I say, beyond my puny brain, but I do know one thing; that the unevenly distributed future is where the action – and the history – is. I’ll see you there.

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