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What will “knowledge” mean in 2050? – IV

Education is most likely to change in tools and in goals by 2050, taking a much more global approach. Knowledge as such will be considered to be available and the main point of education will shift to making use of this distributed knowledge. Image credit: UNESCO

4. From knowledge access to knowledge augmentation

Welcome to 2050. We are all (most people at least) living in the Metaverse, that is a continuum that consists of both digital and physical entities. It is perceived as a single space because the co-presence of digital and physical is seamless. Our eyes, and mind’s eye, can roam both. Barriers stil exist in the physical space but often these can be overcome through the digital space.

If we are all living in the Metaverse, the young generation, the one that is completing the university, grew in the Metaverse. We had to learn it, they have grown “in it”.

Knowledge has kept growing at an exponential rate. We were overwhelmed by it few decades ago now we consider it as an integral part of our living space. Marvin Minsky common sense is now embedded everywhere, in people, devices and ambient.

The students finishing the university have grown their cognitive digital twin throughout their college and academia. It is a curriculum vitae on steroid. Like a cv it has the record of what has been learnt, but that is now in a form that can be used and even transferred, under the person control, to some specific activity. It has become a knowledge avatar that the person can use when engaging in some activity in the (digital part of the) Metaverse. It has grown to embed experiences gained through exercises, projects, interactions with other students, professors and industry. More interesting, it has grown a broad set of trusted relationships that provide access to a massively distributed knowledge.

One of this relationship connects to IEEE. If in the past the connection was in form of a membership providing access to the IEEE knowledge base, now it is a subscription to its knowledge services. Many students still have an IEEE membership since this provides connection to other bird of a feather people.

By subscribing to IEEE (as to other knowledge providers) a person can empower its cognitive digital twin, CDT , with the access to that knowledge provider. The CDT can negotiate services with the knowledge provider, like being notified of changes in the knowledge base. 

The embedded artificial intelligence will manage the interaction and will make “sense” of the outside knowledge space picking up those parts that are of interest (while remaining connected to the whole knowledge space) and will integrate that additional knowledge to the one needed at that specific time by the person. The rendering, i.e. the presentation of knowledge, will be fully customised to the person, the place and the occasion to become immediately usable. 

Does it mean that anybody knows anything and there will be no difference among people? Not at all! The specific training, the attitudes of a person, her character, and so much more will determine the effectiveness of the use of the available knowledge. It is a bit like it was back in 2020. Everybody has access to the internet but the way this access is leveraged is person dependent.

What goes for students will go for everybody and even for companies. A company is most likely to have its own CDT and will set up links to IEEE and other knowledge provider. The name of the game, for the providers, is the ability to deliver relevant chunks of knowledge in a usable way and of course to be recognised as a trusted party.

Some of these knowledge providers started to develop CDT of their clients in the previous decades creating both a de facto standard and a dominant position in the knowledge market. Eventually, these CDT migrated under the person (client) ownership with the knowledge provider supporting them through platforms that are open to third parties services (used as plug ins by the CDT).

This did not come easy, nor cheap. Significant, incremental, investment over the years in software, particularly in AI, has proved crucial. More than that, this has required a change of mindset and business relations, having to transform from a knowledge warehouse into a knowledge service provider with continuous and specific relation to their clients.

The end result, however, was worth the effort. Now their clients are augmented with knowledge that goes to their fingertip, without the need of accessing it.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.