Home / Blog / What will “knowledge” mean in 2050? – XIII

What will “knowledge” mean in 2050? – XIII

The Cognitive Digital Twin, CDT, intermediates external knowledge and intelligence to the internal (brain) one. The person can make use of the CDT to augment her intelligence in performing a task (yellowish lines) and/or taking advantage of the CDT to keep increasing her knowledge, in a sort of seamless continuous education “on the job”.

13. Augmenting “my” intelligence

 Having a Cognitive Digital Twin, seamlessly connecting external intelligence (and knowledge) with the owned one (brain enabled), could be an effective way to augment our own intelligence. It is also providing a competitive advantage, like having a college education provides an advantage towards those who haven’t had one but is not enough when competing with those having a university education, who in turns are at a disadvantage versus those having a Master/PhD education. In other words: the more educated you are the better you (at least potentially) can fare in the labour market. Of course your education has to be in line (useful) with respect to the work area (having a PhD in philosophy does not provide any significant advantage if you are a mason…).

A CDT can provide intelligence, and knowledge augmentation, contextualised to your needs (area of work) here and now. This does not mean that your basic education/experience has no value. The keyword here is “augmentation” and it works by leveraging on what you already know. The more you know the more effective the augmentation will be.

Actually, augmentation can serve two purposes: 

  • help you in performing a task (like, turn that screw,  use that tool, contact that expert, …);
  • increase your “brain”knowledge (like, turn that screw because …)

This is no small difference. There is clearly a trade-off between augmenting your knowledge/intelligence by delegation (first situation) and “educating”. The former is more effective in the short term, the latter is leading to more lasting effects. It is also a matter of evaluating what is the value of augmentation, If it just relating to a specific task that will not need to be tackled in the future most likely the first “transient” augmentation makes more sense. If, on the other hand, that task (or similar one) is going to be faced more and more in the future an approach based on “education” might be better. Of course, education is more time consuming and places a burden onto the educated party. I can imagine that part of the decision on the way to augment one’s knowledge and intelligence will have to rest on the “augmented” person. On the other hand, the augmentation service provider will also have its saying and can greatly influence the decision of the augmented party. This observation is to say that competition on education and difference in people knowledge/intelligence will remain unchanged. The CDT is not a plug in brain prosthetic, is a tool, a very powerful one indeed but just a tool.

However, let’s not underestimate the power of “tools” in changing ourselves, our understanding of the environment and the value we associate to knowledge. Once a tool has become so pervasive and “seamless” that people take it for granted without paying it a second thought the tool has managed to change who we are. The knowledge we value today (and we seek to acquire) is very different from the one of our ancestors (lighting fire and knowing how to fracture a stone to create a blade were a matter of life and death) and even from the one of our grandparents (we find easier to buy something new to replace what does not work anymore whilst our grandparents needed to know how to fix “things”).

In the continuous process of abstraction, that has characterised the homo sapiens evolution, we pay attention to the higher levels of knowledge, taking the lower ones for granted, in part becoming structured into the ambient we live in, in our society and in part embedded in tools, like the computer I am using to write this text. What I need to know is not how to build a computer, only how to use a word processor. Give it a few more year and I will no longer need to know how to use a word processor, since talking to some kind of interface will be sufficient to generate a text for someone else to read.

Take a few more years and my knowledge will be captured by my Cognitive Digital Twin that will be able to use it as needed, with just a loose control from my part. That same CDT will also embed contextual knowledge (just to make a trivial example, the fact that I will be in a location where people speak Chinese) and will contextualise that to my “brain” knowledge (converting Chinese into Italian, to stay on the example). Once this becomes seamless, how much would the capability to understand and speak Chinese (from my point of view) be valued? Will I dedicate years to learn that language or will I be content with the adaptation provided by my CDT?

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.