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Spime and The Last Paradigm

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From time to time (like during past Christmas holidays) I recap books like Thomas Kuhn’s ‘Structure of Scientific Revolutions’, which famously introduces the concept of paradigm shift. Kuhn, Hume, Kant and Wittgenstein have long been in my philosophical toolbox when observing the world, although my idol is Karl Popper. For more recent advice, I’ve consumed Richard Dawkins.

The paradigm shift conveys that scientific discoveries (revolutions) most often happen in uneven waves, with long periods of slow progress or even degeneration in between.

Now having had the privilege to manage some hundreds of bright people, I have come to doubt the foundations of Kuhn’s postulate that the (often abrupt) paradigm shift is a kind of natural law in science (or engineering). It certainly held true when we look at bronze, iron, steam, petrol and computing ages or corresponding scientific discoveries, but now in the ultra-connected world I see that we’re finally overcoming paradigms.

My postulate is that the paradigm shift is mostly a social and human generational phenomenon, in which a quick discovery awakes lot of ‘idle’ minds who have the means to communicate and escalate the discovery in blitzkrieg mode, in parallel. When ‘sufficient’ progress is made, there’s tendency to slow down and let the ideas propagate with their own pace, in a given social group. And, crucially, if this takes more some 20 years, there is also significant data, knowledge and wisdom loss as only a fraction of information is prudently recorded and taught to any younger minds.

Now enter the spime age: The digital side is ever perseverant, artificially intelligent and continuous, regardless of limited human brain capacity. Scientists and engineers can research and develop new things with full access to the lifecycle of anything created earlier – or by others right now. I foresee that this closes the paradigm gap – forever. It’s soon time to move my Kuhns into the history section of the library.

//Pasi

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