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State of Innovation: The Global Brain Comes Online

We are witnessing the rise of the global brain, when a buzzing hive of knowledge, connectivity, technology and access unites the human and the machine, the physical and the digital, in previously unimaginable ways.

Scientific discovery, information sharing and sheer ingenuity are giving us the ability to hack our human brains to learn, do, be more. At the same time, we can model human intelligence into machines to help us gain insights, increase speed and know more.

And we are gaining unprecedented access to the brightest minds in the world, connected to each other and with exponential speed to knowledge and insight – if you know how to harness it.


Consider the potential of a connected, global brain by connecting the dots of these trends:

  • Ubiquitous data. Sensors are being embedded into seemingly everything, creating a stream of data to track, analyze and predict.
  • Understanding how the brain works as well as we do the body. Efforts are accelerating to connect brain imaging and chemistry and electricity and data with open access from neuroscience.
  • Ideas from anywhere. Anyone with access to the internet can connect with people whose ideas and insights are not limited by their education or location.
  • New kinds of jobs driven by new skills, from data analytics to programming software and making things.
  • Unlikely combos and mash ups of technologies, businesses and brains as access becomes cheaper and better.

What might this mean?

Unlock value and make money in new ways. Trillions of dollars may be available through industrial productivity, efficiency, and enhanced human performance.

Tech companies reverse roles. Hardware and advanced materials companies like GE are extending the impact of their brilliant machines with software. Meanwhile digital-first companies like Google and Amazon expand from bits to atoms through robots, drones and wearables.

Expertise of three billion (and counting) people online can be yours. As we found in our partnerships with the engineering collaborators at GrabCAD and open data scientists at Kaggle, experts in most subjects are outside of your company. Considering ideas from anywhere forces you to know what you are good at and what needs to be protected – and it’s not everything!

Build new skillsets, particularly in data science. I like to say, if you don’t like data, you won’t like the future. Many new jobs will require us to be equally adept at hardware and software. We’re changing how we make things via digitization of factories, supply chains and brainpower. A new motto: Wield (welding guns) and write (code).

Partnerships are in your future. The democratization of technology is enabling a growing new generation of entrepreneurs who need partners to help them scale. And large companies and governments always need speed to ideas and market.

My mission as a marketer is to consider these changing trends, tides and technologies not for their shiny newness, but for the impact they will have as our behaviors change and we adapt. Being a marketer means being a behaviorist.

So sure, there’s some bad behavior to be considered in the mash up of machines and people. But as the global brain comes online, it means that we’re all going to get a lot smarter. And a lot more human.

Beth Comstock is Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer for GE.  This piece first appeared on LinkedIn.

State of Innovation: The Global Brain Comes Online was originally published on Ideas Lab

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