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The Shift Age

Date: 02-09-13
Host: John B. Wells
Guests: David Houle

Futurist David Houle joined John B. Wells to discuss what he calls the Shift Age - a pivotal point in human history in which change happens so quickly that it's become the norm. Houle said at the beginning of this century he sensed humanity was leaving the Information Age and entering into an era defined by increasingly rapid change. Many changes are happening so fast, such as those related to technology, that it is challenging some people's ability to think and assimilate data, he revealed. Houle pointed out that an estimated three to ten exabytes of information were created from the beginning of human history up to the year 2000. In 2010, humans produced four exabytes of information every three days, he noted. Individuals born into this age, a generation Houle labeled as 'digital natives,' actually have more synaptic activity than those from previous generations.

Everything is shifting as we enter this new global stage of human evolution, he continued. According to Houle, the Shift Age is defined by three fundamental forces. The first is what he called 'flow to global.' Most aspects of human society are going to be globalized, not just the economy, he predicted. The new era is also characterized by 'flow to the individual.' People have more power than ever before because of an explosion of choice, Houle explained. The final force speeding us along is the 'accelerated electronic connectedness of the planet.’ As an example, Houle referred to the 5.6 billion people on the planet that use cell phones. Because of these and similar devices, time, distance and location no longer limit human communication, he added. Houle expects what he called 'legacy thinking,' or ways things were viewed in the past, to fall away over the next several years. No one has to change, but if they don't, they must be willing to accept that things will pass them by, he cautioned.

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