Do we know so much, or do we share the same illusion of knowledge as every age? Looking back from our digital future, today will turn out to be wrong. The future will call us obsolete.
Since landing on the Internet’s shores, we have reached only the first few miles inland. Tomorrow’s Digital Earth will come from inventing a more powerful world: One where everyone can succeed and reach the top of society — where greatness will be the norm.
We think we’re living in a world that’s digital, but we haven’t even begun to glimpse what our digital future will be.
All we’ve reached is the same first step as Christopher Columbus in 1492, when he landed on the shores of the New World. He put down his flag and said, “We claim this land.”
Our “new world” is online. We’re like those discoverers in the early 1500’s. We’ve quickly claimed our new Internet “lands.”
Today we have Googleland, Amazonland, Appleland, Facebookland and others. Some are so huge that many of us have moved into them. The top 10 to 25 “lands” already “own” much of the advertising, retail, ecosystem and other large revenue streams from the Internet’s new shores.
Do today’s new “lands” really know where they are?
In 1492 it took Columbus decades to learn where he was. Columbus made four voyages to the New World and died thinking he reached Asia’s outer islands. That’s why new world natives are called “Indians.”
In our first 20 years of the Internet we have advanced, and a lot was built. But this is only the first foray. Since landing on the Internet’s shores, we have only reached the first few miles inland.
We haven’t realized a Kentucky wilderness lies to the West, Canadian riches are in the North, and heading Southwest leads to a wild Louisiana territory.
We don’t suspect there will be a Mississippi River in the distant middle, plains and mountain ranges beyond it, or a spectacular West Coast in the far distance.
While we focus on our Internet beachhead, our economic stagnation parallels the 1500’s. In that century’s stagnant feudal economy, many knew they needed to emigrate to their “new world.”
Today, many who are locked down in our fading industrial economy know they must find a bridge into tomorrow’s “new world.”
They see what’s happening to the economies in our “advanced societies.” Good middle class jobs are disappearing while low-paying jobs multiply, trapping huge numbers of people in a downward spiral, hoping for a better way forward.
Growing numbers are asking if high-tech has a high price. Is technology a threat or an advantage?
For many of us, our expectations for our personal economic future grows dimmer.
New questions become more urgent: What could a better digital future be? Can we accelerate that future digital world into the present?
When it comes to digital, we’ve only just begun
The 1500’s opening of the New World is different from today’s Digital World.
Back then pioneers had to walk across the New World physically, one foot at a time. We couldn’t see ahead until we sent out a scout, a Lewis & Clark or a John Wesley Powell. Our scouts physically explored each new place and told us what’s there.
Tomorrow’s Digital World is a different kind of “place.” We design and build it.
To find our Digital World of the future it’s possible to be a more creative scout, to race ahead and start building a distant future, then bring back what you discover.
Until now, today’s “scouting wisdom” is to look ahead a few months to a few years, find a disruption and use it for a competitive advantage.
Those are baby steps. While everyone thinks they’re looking ahead, they’re adapting the present.
Instead, I took a different scouting journey. Using history as a guide, each later age found different truths than the previous age. Virtually all our beliefs and assumptions will be transformed.
From the vantage point of our future, what we believe today will turn out to be wrong, obsolete and unknowing.
We just don’t know it. Yet.
We’re busy believing we know so much, living with the same illusion of knowledge as every age.
We look a few months to a few years ahead and ask, “Which disruptions will generate millions, hundreds of millions, or billions of dollars in revenue soon?”
I wasn’t interested.
In my “advance scouting” I went decades into the future to explore the fully Digital World we will build by the middle of this century, by 2030 through 2060 — the decades when our kids will run the world.
I spent years being creative in a future everyone abandoned. I privately scouted, pioneered and planted the first IP flags on our Digital World of 20 to 50 years out.
What a wonderful awakening: Our technological future is not far away. It can be developed and accelerated into the present.
I mined deeper truths, and spent years asking questions that have powerful answers, but don’t fit the way we think.
In a more powerful Digital World can everyone reach the top of society? Can today’s greatness become tomorrow’s norm? Can everyone succeed, regardless of their education?
I discovered a fully Digital World in which our kids could live. A stronger world where it’s normal for everyone to become much more than we’ve ever been before.
Next I figured out how that could be designed now, built by us, to accelerate our economy and expand our lives.
We have only just arrived on the shores of our new digital world. We haven’t even imagined there is more, much more, beyond us.
We don’t need to wait decades. We, not our kids, are the generation who could benefit from this.
We can add tomorrow’s immense digital abilities to our lives and our companies.
I’m impatient and ready. How about you?
Image credits: The first graphic is credited to Shutterstock. The second and third graphics are copyright Dan Abelow.
Dan Abelow is an American inventor, author, speaker and technology consultant. His latest patent-pending invention, the Expandiverse, is new technology to build an advanced Digital Earth now. His previous patents are licensed by over 500 corporations that include Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung Electronics and many other leaders. He holds degrees from Harvard and the Wharton School. Get connected with Dan at ImagineANewFuture.com/connect/