Knowledge has been one of the driving forces behind human civilization. We may not realize it yet, but it is true. Thanks to the vast amounts of content that is now available on the internet, it has now become possible for anyone and everyone to access information on veritably any and every topic. Indeed, if you happen to strike a conversation with an economist, he or she might even tell you a name for this phenomenon: The Knowledge Driven Economy. And while there is a large portion of our race that is not quite there yet, the tools that will help them ascend are becoming increasingly more available.
Making content (and by extension, knowledge) freely available to everyone has been one of the biggest contributions of the modern web. Today, anyone with a smartphone/laptop and one of the multiple, increasingly cheap internet connections can access the sum total of the human race’s knowledge, and use it, distribute it, and modify it as he or she will. Can you imagine something like this happening a few centuries ago? Can you imagine asking say, a Knight about the position of stars on a certain day next month? Today, everyone has access to knowledge, and the vast majority are only too quick to share any new knowledge they may have accumulated with others.
And whether you can see it or not, this new, knowledge based economy has also done a lot to reduce the gap between developed and developing countries. How? I will give you an example. When I started writing, I could expect to get paid $1 for a 1000 word article — if I was lucky. With time, I increased my skills and the rates went up — to maybe $1.25 on a good day. Why? Because that is what people in my country were willing to pay for content — force them to pay any more, and they will rather sit down and write the content themselves.
With greater internet penetration however, I was able to tap into the markets overseas, where there was a greater demand for the kind of work I could provide. And, this also led to a process of knowledge exchange where I was able to gain some, and contribute some, from and to the people I worked with.
This was a single example, and not even a significant one (although it was significant to me!). The knowledge economy has probably done more to provide opportunities to those that lacked them, than any other force in the world With this said, we are on the verge of making yet another transition.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an absolute transition, like some of the previous transitions that took place. For instance, we initially had the hunters-gathers, most of whom then turned to agriculture once the myriad benefits of the latter we discovered — foremost among which was the possibility of regular food, instead of food when you went out and killed it. Instead, the economy may stay knowledge based, but with additional elements thrown in, such as AI, data, and machine learning.
And artificial intelligence and all its accompanying technologies may be used in ways we haven’t even imagined yet. Thanks to the efforts of people like Elon Musk (This is an article on tech, his name was bound to come up) there is research in technology that a few years into the future, may allow our very brains to be connected to computers. What then? Will we then be able to access the vast troves of information available on the web with our thoughts? Will our brains be wired and connected to a central grid through an AI that will act as a proverbial second consciousness to us?
While it is too early to say for certain, the one thing I can promise you is this: The foreseeable future will continue to be Knowledge driven. And with a little help from AI, the human race is going to leverage knowledge and harness the potential of our race in ways we probably haven’t imagined yet. And barring a SkyNet like occurrence, a future like that holds a lot of hope for our race.