Data. Alive?

Patrick Scannell

Patrick Scannell

Abstract: Technology advances, including an unprecedented explosion of human data, information and knowledge, are accumulating and accelerating at a rate so fast than perhaps not even the world's top experts can appreciate.  This is driven by well understood exponential factors such as Moore's Law, but becomes algorithmic when compounded by advances driven by increasingly networked systems (Metcalfe's Law), leaps in software architectures (Nathan's Laws), a continued doubling of human knowledge and data 'Fuller's Law', and revolutions in computing architectures (Bell's Law). These advances are so fast, disparate, complex, and unprecedented that few have been able to step back and look at the opportunities and challenges represented by the emergent properties of this current environment. What does this mean for the human condition?  How does the act of being "alive" change in the face of these dynamics - not in 50 years, 20, or 10, but now? How can asking this question draw our focus towards and begin to shape more optimal strategies for creating, interacting, or thinking about the data around us today?  This talk will expound on these drivers and questions.

Biography: Patrick Scannell has had a 25 year career developing and commercializing innovative technologies. He has led major transformative projects in a variety of tech categories, from the early days of the Internet, to mobile phones, personal computers, Internet of Things, the cable industry, smart cars, and smart grid, as well as next generation platforms like augmented reality and stuff he can’t even talk about. He is comfortable and works regularly in a variety of ecosystems, from VC-backed tech startups up through and including Fortune 100 C-suite and national defense /government environments.

Over the last 5 years, Pat has spent the majority of his time looking at the cumulative effects of technology on the human condition, and on human cognition specifically.  He has drafted three books, targeted at publication through Oxford University Press, that examine the co-evolution of cognition and 'technology' over the arc of human evolution. The first, The History of Thought, Book 1, co-authored with Chet Sherwood, Chair of Anthropology at George Washington University, looks at the evolution of cognition in pre-human species, from 63 million years ago to ~8 million years ago.  The second, The History of Thought, Book 2, co-authored with Tim Taylor, University of Vienna, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Prehistory, examines the co-evolution of technology and cognition among human species, from 8 million years ago to present. The third book in the series, The Future of Thought, examines the dynamics in present and near-future state of human cognition, as a result of the changing technological environment in which humans' live.

Video: Pat Scannell and Bob Cook-Deegan give their opening keynotes with discussants interrogating deeper questioning. Length 2 hours 6 min.

Video: Pat Scannell and Bob Cook-Deegan give their opening keynotes with discussants interrogating deeper questioning. Length 2 hours 6 min.