Daily Trade Ideas & Trends
20 May 2020
Doc's Daily Commentary
Mind Of Mav
The Map Is Not the Territory – Our Digital Future
“I used to think that cyberspace was fifty years away. What I thought was fifty years away, was only ten years away. And what I thought was ten years away… it was already here. I just wasn’t aware of it yet” — Bruce Sterling
We can’t truly know the future. It’s not possible. But we can study human nature, world history, and interesting facts of life to gain an understanding of how the world works. Through this understanding, we can make educated predictions of what will come next.
Here are 8 interesting ideas, theories, and cognitive bias’ that will help shape our digital future.
#1. Normalcy Bias
A systemic judgment where people underestimate the odds of a looming disaster or an event that may have negative consequences. Most people are afflicted by Normalcy Bias. In fact, nearly 70% of people are impacted by it. This bias manifests in many ways but most importantly, it causes a majority of people to believe life will stay the same. Like nothing will change.
The leadup to the pandemic was a great example of Normalcy Bias. Most people didn’t believe that the world would be so profoundly impacted by COVID-19.
But the world does change.
Another example of this bias relates to our increasingly digital world. Our actions and interactions with one another now are online more than ever. This isn’t going to stop. Rather, it’s going to accelerate and our lives will change as a result of it.
That’s not to say that there won’t be physical interactions in the future. On the contrary, physical contact is essential from an evolutionary standpoint.
But there will be an overwhelming shift towards digital contact. Smartphones and mobile networks created the backbone of this change. Social media, immersive games, and on-demand grocery delivery are other trends paving the way towards a digital future.
The majority of people may ultimately earn their incomes through digital work.
This gradual and inevitable change spells disaster for the individuals that don’t adapt their skills and expertise accordingly. This includes nation-states and the educational curriculum requirements they impose on their constituents.
Normalcy Bias is ignoring the convergence of digital technology and assuming life will proceed as it always has.
When you lie about what you want because you’re afraid of the social backlash associated with your wants.
President Trump’s first election is a great example of this phenomenon on display. Polling data and “public opinions” of his candidacy were often negative. “No one” wanted him as President.
This formed a false narrative and ultimately led to a shock for many people when Trump was elected.
It teaches us that people lie in order to project their conformance to their social group’s accepted preferences. We lie because we are afraid of damaging relationships when our preferences are known. In private we say one thing. In public, we say another.
Why does this matter?
Because in a digitized future where you can remain anonymous, preference falsification might not exist. There is no fear of social persecution if your life is anonymous within the digital economy.
As a consequence, the preferences we establish as communities within the digital economy will be closer to the societal consensus opinion. A more true form of discourse will take place in digital settings that protect anonymity.
#3. The Map Is Not the Territory
“The map of reality is not reality. Even the best maps are imperfect. That’s because they are reductions of what they represent. If a map were to represent the territory with perfect fidelity, it would no longer be a reduction and thus would no longer be useful to us” — Farnam Street
As the digital economy goes mainstream it will be important to understand that we aren’t creating exact replicas of our non-digital world. And we never will.
Instead of trying to force an exact copy, we will use symbols and scaled-down replicas to represent our real world in virtual settings. Even if we could create exact replicas, what would be the true purpose?
VR represents an opportunity to create alternate realities. Parallel universes that increasingly intersect with the real world through Mixed Reality technologies. By understanding that the map is not the same as the territory, digital creators gain freedom and license to create new experiences that are different from our own.
#4. Cumulative advantage
Gaining an early advantage or disadvantage matters. Early wins compound over time creating an outsized advantage for the early adopters (think Bitcoin).
Cumulative advantage is sometimes referred to as the Matthew Effect, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
If you assume that life is becoming more digital (not less) and that ultimately a disproportionate amount of our time and wealth with be spent “online”, then fortune favors the digital-first movers.
Early influencers, digital advocates, and businesses that are positioning themselves for the future stand to gain a runaway compound advantage over everyone else that catches on later.
#5. The 90–9–1 Rule of Social Media
90% of digital users browse content, 9% contribute a small amount, and 1% of users contribute the majority of content.
This gives an artificial impression of what ideas are popular or mainstream and plays into preference falsification narratives.
Internet culture refers to 90% of read-only individuals as lurkers. But as our lives become more digital, this rule may ultimately break.
The digital universe is gravitating towards a model of User-Generated Content. We are in a transition from the current form of internet to an immersive digital one. In this digital universe, the content will overwhelmingly come from users creating increasingly complex and powerful content, powered by No-Code worldbuilding software.
As this phenomenon becomes mainstream and accessible to the masses we can expect to see more individuals participating in content creation.
A phenomenon that occurs in nature where one species plays a significant role in creating or protecting an ecosystem. The loss of this species would pull down the ecosystem with it. The loss of honey bees is a great example. If honey bee populations die off, it “potentially affects the structure and functioning of pollination networks in natural ecosystems”.
But foundational and keystone species are not limited to living things.
The digital economy is experiencing massive growth from converging technologies and a societal push towards a digital life.
For a digital economy to achieve mainstream adoption, the immersive hardware must be affordable and accessible to the global community. Hardware and supporting equipment will be the “make or break” elements of the fully immersive ecosystem forming within the digital economy.
#7. Luxury Paradox
“The more expensive something is the less likely you are to use it, so the relationship between price and utility is an inverted U. Ferraris sit in garages; Hondas get driven” — Morgan Housel
It’s essential that equipment is developed to support extreme immersion but it’s critical that the equipment is affordable. If not, then the Luxury Paradox will take effect. Digital economy elements, like blockchain wallets, will exist on the periphery and won’t experience widespread adoption.
As the digital economy technology ecosystem grows, it’s important to monitor which operators are working to reduce hardware costs and generate mainstream adoption. The early movers will achieve a cumulative advantage while the operators that fail to do so will achieve a disadvantage.
#8. Emergence Theory
Life teaches us that complex systems emerge when many seemingly unconnected raw materials are combined together. The convergence of key technologies has created a foundation for the emergence of the complex system known as the digital economy.
Think of the digital economy as a never-ending, digital parallel universe that connects to our physical world. It’s information that is just out of reach of our physical bodies and can be accessed and interacted with using different technologies.
It’s a digital reality created through the social networking of devices, it’s often a shared reality but can be a small or individual construct.
It emerges when smartphones and mobile networks allow for uploading, downloading, and sharing new and unprecedented amounts of information within the networked cyberspace.
It emerges when complex cameras and constant internet access created tools that allowed for the digital economy to be superimposed onto the physical world. This is called Augmented Reality (AR).
It emerges when IoT and mobile network infrastructure receive significant investment and will grow over the next decade. These technologies will create a more robust ecosystem of devices that can create and interact with an increasingly immersive digital economy.
The digital economy is a complex system that is emerging and is built from a sum of the technological parts right under our noses.
- Normalcy bias impacts our decisions and preparations for the future. Change is inevitable but we can take steps to prepare for the future.
- It’s hard to overcome normalcy bias especially when we understand preference falsification. We are afraid of looking stupid in front of our social groups.
- The vision we craft for the future will not be an exact replica of what it becomes. Use forecasts of the future as guides and leave room for creative improvisation as needed. Sometimes you will need to let instinct guide your path forward with dead reckoning.
- First movers get an outsized piece of the future pie. Take chances, don’t be afraid to be first, and manage the consequences of being wrong.
- In a digital future, you won’t be able to afford to sit on the sidelines. Learn how to engage with digital communities now to establish a cumulative advantage. In the future, digital engagement is inevitable.
- Seek out foundational and keystone technologies to dominate the future digital ecosystem. Learn them and become an expert in them. Most of them won’t be foundational, but you only need one to develop a cumulative advantage.
- Be wary of confusing foundational technologies with the luxury paradox. Although luxury goods provide status, you want to achieve an advantage through massively adopted technology.
- Life teaches us is that change is inevitable and wonderful things happen when technology converges. Sometimes we may think we have a grasp on how life works but we never truly have a full understanding of the interconnectedness at play. After all, the map is not the territory.
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