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The impact of disruptive technology – A conversation with Google’s Eric Schmidt

This article was first published on 11 May 2013.

McKinsey do a great job of developing and assembling thought provoking material and they’re usually ahead of the curve.  I think it’s interesting that they’re now dedicating some of their intellectual horsepower to exploring what’s happening with disruptive technology and what it ultimately means for economies, industries and businesses.

Eric Schmidt is always worth following when he says something about the future of technology for a couple of reasons:

  • As CEO of Google he has unrivaled visibility of the cutting edge of a range of technologies.  
  • Google itself doesn’t appear to be particularly interested in the idea of technology for technology’s sake.  Their focus  appears to be very much on the application of technology in ways that are productive, revolutionary and, almost by definition, disruptive.

A couple of points worth specifically drawing out:

  • It’s worth noting that one of the first thing that Schmidt focuses on in the video is the idea of biology going digital.  He reinforces observations I’ve made in previous posts about synthetic biology and its potential to disrupt a wide range of industries.
  • He also notes toward the end of the video that the “the race that’s not being followed in the media is the race between humans and automation.  He goes on to say that “this race is run every day and it’s a very tough race.”  The suggestion that we’re actually in a race is of itself a scary proposition but it’s made all the more scary by the fact that we (and that absolutely includes leaders in the world of government and commerce) are so blind to it.

This clip only goes for a couple of minutes but it provides a great way of getting acquainted with a thumbnail sketch of the disruptive technologies that will shape the world in the years ahead.

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