CXO

Peter Cochrane's Blog: Is the analogue-digital barrier breaking down?

Could the fragile membrane between digital and analogue one day fail?

...two key mechanisms at work. The mechanisms of markets appear to be machine-dominated and changes that occur within them are characteristically digital - fast and without warning - while production is predominantly tied to human consumption and is therefore characteristically analogue - slow and smooth with early precursors (see below).

The world trade and production volume index

The world trade and production volume index plotted over the past few years
(Image credit: Peter Cochrane)

The big difficulty is the smoothing caused by the aggregation of the changes occurring across all sectors - because these changes occur at different rates and with some degree of independence. Certainly, this is another arena where we need the help of our machines to model and untangle what is really happening.

And now for the real thing. Today people with, say, pacemakers, respiratory stimulators and Alzheimer's correctors are mostly offline, but future advances will make them more networked than not. And then there are those with cyber-prosthetics directly connected to their nervous system, plus other electronic implants that will eventually be subject to the same networked phenomenon.

More dramatic still, researchers using digital equipment and modelling in genomic research, with the modifications they create introduced into living humans, will also be subject to the same phenomenon. I'm sure you get the picture.

This is the realm where we will see new effects resulting from the full breakdown of the membrane of isolation and mutations passing in both directions - analogue to digital and vice versa. Today we are just at the beginning, but I can see the possibility for creating chimeras in both worlds. The big question is, as always, whether the benefits will outweigh the risks. So far they have.

About

Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, futurist and consultant. He is the former CTO and head of research at BT, with a career in telecoms and IT spanning more than 40 years.

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