Dave Snowden – We’re in a transitionary phase at the moment

I mean trouble is that we don’t handle very well the way the computers currently present it [information] because we process patterns based on multiple triggered memories, and computers don’t work that way. I mean even the modern AI systems. So I think the issue is how do we increase human interaction with some databases for example, and that’s the work we do with products like SenseMaker so that the presentation of information to the human brain is in the form that the human brain has evolved to accept it, which is generally fragmented, messy, partially coherent, semi structured, loosely coupled, all those sort of words. It’s not structured.

Our brains… I mean a concept called Conceptual Blending in cognitive psychology, which is bringing together multiple patterns to make a decision in a complex environment very quickly. And I think the reason that things like social computing is successful is by accident, not by design. They actually present material to human beings in a way that they’ve evolved to handle it, whereas things like Six Sigma, BPR, CRM systems, present information in the way that quasi-autistic IT people have designed them to do based on what the technology demands, and that’s different.

We’re in a transitionary phase at the moment. Let me say that the transition from… and you see the same thing when people… when steam technology came in here, everything had to be steam-driven, and then people realized there are limits. So whenever new technology comes through, it takes a bit of time for the co-evolution to take place. And you get some matters, I mean anybody believes in the singularity, is probably stupid enough to have their brain put in a computer. But you know, overall, I think you’re starting to see… retailers for example never went down the SAP route, because they knew they needed far more dynamic capability, and now service companies are really regretting it, so… I mean you know the classic question you ask people having implemented SAP is “how have you would been able to pay a small supplier in the last year?” and it turns out they haven’t, because SAP works off averages. And there’s a whole secondary industry on SAP, it’s people who will now contract full suppliers at 40% markups, so the large companies can employ them, so the so called inefficiencies are going away.

So a lot of those absurdities are now becoming visible, they’re becoming published. And I think that will help trigger a fairly rapid change over the next decade. I think we’re in for a… we had a huge rapid change in the 80s I think we’re in for a huge rapid change now.

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