Forty years ago for Radio Times, the scientist and broadcaster James Burke predicted events in 1993. He got a lot right. So we asked him in to PM this afternoon to predict the future. The sound begins with an actor reading from the original article, written by Tony Peagam.
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Journalist and academic Aleks Krotoski presents the second of her three guest curated events on the theme of ‘Connections’.
James Burke takes a sideways look at the connective nature of innovation and its social effects. Two ideas come together to produce something that is greater than the sum of the parts. The result is almost a surprise (in the way, for instance, the first typewriters boosted the divorce rate!).
Innovation has usually attempted to solve some aspect of the problem with which we have lived for two million tool-using years: scarcity. As a result, our institutions, value systems, modes of thought and behaviour have all been shaped by the fact that there’s never been enough of everything to go around.
However, thanks to the internet and a radically-accelerated rate of connective, inter-disciplinary innovation, we may be on the verge of solving the problem of scarcity once and for all. In ways that may really surprise us. What will abundance do to us? And how should we prepare for it?
Watch the news, and every day you see proof that the world is increasingly interlinked. Nowhere is too far away to matter, now.
More than ever, we need to understand how other people and events across the world affect the way we live.
Take a journey on the Knowledge Web and you see how this has always been true. The modern world was shaped because of the way people and things in the past were connected.
Thanks to information technology and easier access, today’s global interactivity is also beginning to involve many more people. For the first time, everybody makes an impact.
The Knowledge Web provides an opportunity for users of all kinds and ages and interests to learn about how interactivity works. It offers the chance to experience history the way the players at the time did: full of surprise twists and turns, accidents, discoveries, friends and foes. Above all, the K-Web reveals how they never knew what was coming next. Just like you.
The Knowledge Web also shows how all knowledge is interlinked, and how applying K-Web techniques to your own situation can help you to second-guess your own future—as an individual, or a community, or a company.
James Burke is a science historian, author, and television producer best known for his BBC documentary series Connections, Connections2, and Connections3, which focus on the history of science and technology leavened with a sense of humor. Burke was BBC television’s science anchor and chief reporter on the Project Apollo missions, including being the main host on the coverage of the first moon landings in 1969. He has been a regular contributor for Scientific American and Time magazines, and served as a consultant to the SETI project. He is the leading figure of the KnowledgeWeb Project, a digital incarnation of his books and television programs that allows users to move through history and create their own connective paths. Owen Johnson hosts.