Mar 19 • 25M

We Don't Know What We Don't Know

Why it's critical to get dialed into the world of disruptive innovation

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Episode details

This segment originally appeared in the July 2022 episode of Exploring Atlanta entitled, Taking Stock of Innovation

Take A Glimpse Into the Vast Unknown

Undoubtedly, you have heard the old adage, "We don't know that we don't know."

Well, here's your chance to get a glimpse into that unknown world of ours…

If you're like me, you won't understand everything in this 15-min video but, if you stick with it, you will gain some insight into a field (quantum computing) that very few people know anything about. I mean, just ask the next ten people you see today to explain what it is. Heck, just ask them if they have ever heard of it.

The larger, and far more important, point here is that the body of knowledge that we (the average human) are unaware of is vast. In other words, there is way more that we don't know that we can possibly imagine.

Click on image to access the video

JPMorgan Chase has hired a Singapore-based quantum-computing expert to be the bank’s global head for quantum communications and cryptography, according to a memo obtained by CNBC.

Charles Lim, an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore, will be focused on exploring next generation computing technology in secure communications, according to the memo from Marco Pistoia, who runs the bank’s global technology applied research group.

Lim is a “recognized worldwide leader” in the area of quantum-powered communications networks, according to Pistoia.

[CNBC, 7.28.22]

Major Implications

On a practical level, this has profound (possibly devastating) implications for decision-makers who are responsible for making long-range, investment-intensive decisions. Take transit planning, for example. If today's transit planners are unaware (or skeptical) of the disruptive technologies that are on the cusp of becoming a reality — such as artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, machine learning, battery technology, and more — one can easily see how these very smart and well-intentioned people could make some very poor decisions when it comes to long-range transit investments. That's just one example. Every field — including education and healthcare — and virtually every business in the world, is in the same boat.

Disruptive Technologies Research

Click on image to download “Big Ideas 2022” report

Key Takeaways

  1. We all need to understand and acknowledge that there is a lot more that we don't know (than we can imagine, or are willing to accept)

  2. This lack of awareness or knowledge can (will) have huge implications in our personal and business lives

  3. The pace of innovation, especially in the way of disruptive technologies, is accelerating at warp speeds right now

  4. If one is responsible for making long-range (investment-intensive) decisions, this lack of insight can lead to catastrophic decisions (for future generations)

  5. Public and private organizations need to collaborate with subject-matter experts who understand disruptive technologies and their potential impacts. Consulting firms like Accenture, BCG, McKinsey and PwC can all help with this.

  6. Decision-makers need to develop a sense of urgency about this. Disruptive technologies are advancing at warp speeds right now, and they are converging! This is multidimensional and multidisciplinary in nature.

  7. All of this makes the probability of making bad decisions much higher than most of us realize.

This post is intended to be a conversation starter. Please share it with your friends and colleagues and discuss the points above. Challenge yourself, expand your learning areas and, most of all, question your assumptions.

I'll sum it up with one of my all-time favorite quotes:

"It's not what you don't know that can hurt you, it's what you know that just ain't so." ~ Satchel Paige (attributed)

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