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A Social Fut

The FutureCould business become nothing more than a social object?

technotropolisFor the next 5 minutes Im going to have to ask you to open up your minds and imaginations and try to think forward 40 years Lets think the unthinkable and see if it becomes thinkable

What if businesses became nothing more than a social object that social networks would be used simply to coordinate all the activities that businesses used to do but dont just take my word for it.

. or.a place people went to or thing they did more for the purpose of connecting socially than doing business


Nanotechnology will destroy the present social and economic system because it will become pointless

James BurkeRadio 4 PM, August 2013

technotropolisStrong words from James Burke last month on Radio 4 of all places. Who remembers him?

Lets just reel back a bit for a quick step back in time to put things into perspective


James Burke guru, sage, seer

technotropolisamous BBC reporter on Tomorrows World key technology show - and chief presenter for the BBCs coverage of the first moon landing in 69.

in 1973 to make predictions for what life would be like in 20 years time so 1993. You have to remember that back in 1973 the only computers around filled floors, there were very few. There was no internet, no email, no mobile phones.. Technology was seen as big and brooding


Burkes predictions includedStorage of personal information in databanks would be accepted at least by the young

People would realise that the sharing of information would help organise society better

Computer aided learning systems would provide children with their own plug in super teacher

300,000 computer terminals would be in use by the year 2000 providing forecasts on the effects of management decision making

technotropolis146 Million computers in fact!So when he said last month


Nanotechnology will destroy the present social and economic system because it will become pointless

James BurkeRadio 4 PM, August 2014

technotropolisSo when he said on the show that in 40 years time. we thought it worth investigating at least to see how this could happen


The Personal Nanofactory

technotropolisHe is saying that in 40 years time we could all own personal nanofactories which could reproduce stuff on a molecular level virtually anything for virtually nothingAir, water, dirt and acetylene gas (for carbon) manufacture virtually everything from gold, a bottle of Chardonnay, food, our utilities, or even a house become entirely autonomous.

Actually, perhaps this isnt quite so far out there as it sounds. Take the current trends of everything being smaller cheaper and networked - like 3d printing and internet of things and push this out over 40 years

Earth / Air / Fire / Water

(And with the increased refinement of solar power as a key source of energy? James doesnt actually mention this). Richard Feinman actually predicted this 50 years ago.6

Its already started

technotropolisAnd then consider this working assembler from University of Manchester which works at a molecular level theyre planning to modify to build penicillin. Loads of other examples..

Whats the endgame?

Systems already in existence which already allow you to manipulate atoms to build molecules which allow you to build stuff. This working assembler was unveiled at the University of Manchester by Professor David Leigh. He has plans to modify the machine to make it capable of producing penicillin. It's not yet building homes and is yet - but it is perhaps a step in the right direction.

So whats the end game?7

Radical Abundance the Endgame?

technotropolisEric Drexler It means what it says on the tin It is almost unthinkable but lets make it thinkable

Lets focus just on business


The Domino Effect

technotropolisProduction at home or locally on demand knock out large scale manufacturingTransport no goods to be moved around the transport industry would be under threatConsumer facing businesses selling goods would be under threat Sales what for? If no goods to flogBusiness support services would dwindleFinance - a lot of the current financial system is based on betting on firms

Taking this all into account

Production at home or very local, on demand rather than pushTransport & Delivery far less need to move produced goods anywhere, so the huge logistics industry is under pressureConsumers can make stuff very locally, so consumer facing businesses selling goods are under threat. Social technology increasingly looks like it can home create many services. Employees dont need to commute, dont need coffees and paninisSales & Marketing No goods to flog, social advice will expose the best optionsBusiness Support Services If the main firms dwindle, what happens to all those firms set up to support these firms?Finance a lot of the current financial system is based on betting on firms, on defraying risks of producing into uncertain demand, of credit against poor payment

If we could produce everything we needed all manufacturing as we know it would become redundant. What would we still need?Land to live on (but all agricultural land wouldnt be needed drought and famine a thing of the past)Physical help with building products we create with our nanofactories9

Cities? Why bother?

technotropolisEvery major technology shift has made huge impacts to the way we live.

Cities only created for people to come together to trade goods workers to live close to factories

But it would mean that we may be able to return to a time more reminiscent of the medieval period when we lived in smaller communities so well still have physical contact. Contact at distance could easily be covered by 3D holography made possible with nanotechnology.

How would we interact with others? Burke believes we will give up living in overpopulated cities as the economies of scale that make these important, will simply disappear according to him they only grew during the 18th Century so that workers could live close to factories. No more economies of scale. Wed disagree with that to a certain degree history shows that humans do like to congregate we are social animals.


Governments? What for?

technotropolisBurke pushes the boundaries and thinks that there would be no need for governments or nations.

Governments are there to protect you and redistribute wealth in society No need for social institutions as all based on scarcity of things money, food, medication, property all produced by ourselves.

Weve spent the last 150,000 talkative years dealing with the problem of scarcity, every institution, every value system, every aspect of our lives has been dictated by the need to share out what there wasnt enough of for everybody


The Future

Creativedigest.co.uk Will business become a social object?

technotropolisSo when I say -- social networks would be there to coordinate all the activities businesses USED to do perhaps this thought has become more thinkable than unthinkable in the last 5 minutes!

On that note lets get down to some serious real world social business and hand over to ou rillustrious panel starting with Will McInnes of Nixon McInnes

. Why would we work? What would be the point of creating a business as we know it if everyone had everything they needed?

We would still need help with basic things though like helping build the products that we make (like parts of a house or a car). We would need help from each other we are social animals and enjoy sharing experiences and generally helping each other.

Are we really talking about a system based on social objects?

*Social objects are objects around which social networks form. Parties, places, people etc.

*social capital is the expected collective or economic benefits derived from the preferential treatment and cooperation between individuals and groups.

We already have a glimpse of how technologies have shifted our lifestyle from having to work in an office to being able to work from home but to not have to work at all? It needs a strong imagination 12