5. Pervasive knowledge
In the 2050 scenario just described I pointed out that knowledge will no longer be perceived as overwhelming, rather as a property of the space (metaspace) we live in. In other words knowledge becomes pervasive. It is where it is needed.
Think about this. We are making the first tiny steps in that direction: when we sit at a restaurant a QR code tells our smartphone the place where to look at the menu. And this has become (also thanks to the pandemic) a seamless experience. You just point your smartphone camera to the QR code and start browsing the restaurant menu. Similarly, many everyday devices no longer come with an associated manual. It is either “inside”, like in my car and in my television, or it is at smartphone distance through a QR code.
Yes, these are indeed tiny steps but are clearly showing the way. Knowledge is out there and what you need is just a link to grab it and bring it at your fingertips. Once AR devices will become an integral part of our everyday life, and the question is not “if” but “when” -2050 is a given!-, then really knowledge will be always available.
Notice, and this is crucial, that what will happen is that the knowledge you will “see and digest” will be contextualised to you and to your context. Hence, it will be quite different from today’s restaurant QR code that brings the same menu to everybody. In the future one person will be seeing a menu that takes into account her taste and possible allergies, listing only the items that fit (and may be placing in a second section other items that the person might want try). I understand that this example may seem out of place, when talking about “knowledge” but it is interesting because it shows that knowledge in the future will not be something abstract, unrelated to whom is needing that, rather it will be:
- seamlessly available
- it will be presented in a way that can be used (so it will take into account the user experience)
- it will be related to the specific needs (so it will take into account “why” the user is asking for it)
- it will fit in the context (so it will be applicable at that particular time in that particular context)
The knowledge adaptation, to the user, to the context and also to the device, can be mediated through a Cognitive Digital Twin. At least this is the technology that we see as most promising today. In thirty years time it might be something different but alas the function performed will be the ones of adaptation and contextualisation.
Interestingly, the ambient will also be part of the global knowledge so that in many situations a person will not need to explicitly access knowledge, it will find it available in the ambient.
Typically, the working environment, including robots on the shop floor, will be pervaded by knowledge that is available to whoever is in that ambient. Of course, it will be tailored to that ambient and to the specific needs of people, and machines.
This pervasive presence of contextualised knowledge is on the one hand seamlessly augmenting people’s knowledge -i.e. their capability to execute tasks, both manual and intellectual, and it is fostering knowledge transfer through continuing education. This is going to reshape the way we “learn”.