Techno-Social Learning 2023

There’s a new techno-twist brewing for Peter Senge’s learning organizations and Albert Bandura’s social learning. Last month, researchers at Duke University Medical Center and Safra International Institute for Neuroscience of Natal successfully created an electronic link between the brains of two rats, one in Raleigh, NC, the other in Sao Paulo, Brazil, through which the rats “collaborated telepathically to solve problems across continents.”

In the experiment, “The electrical brain activity picked up by electrodes in the brain of the first rat, the ‘encoder,’ was fed into the brain of the second animal, the ‘decoder’…[researchers] saw that when the decoder rat committed an error, the encoder basically changed both its brain function and behavior to make it easier for its partner to get it right…” Click here to read the full story.

Apply Moore’s Law to this breakthrough and, ethical/political considerations aside, one could easily imagine a radically new, creepy-cool learning paradigm for individuals and organizations within 10-15 years. Prognosticator-extraordinaire Ray Kurzweil has long posited that the development of brain-computer interfaces which allow both upload and download of our knowledge is inevitable in the very near future (2035 or sooner). 

While the full implementation of any of these technologies on a large scale will not likely occur in the next five years, one can reasonably suppose that many of the precursor technologies will be commercially available sooner rather than later. These include many new interface options that greatly facilitate the interaction between humans and computers (e.g. Brain-Computer Interface Project, IBM’s Human Computer Interaction Projects, Mind-Controlled Artificial Arm, to name just a few). These innovations alone can fundamentally change the way we create, share and learn knowledge…and they are right around the corner.

As we in the world of associations plan for our future, we should do so based not on what was or what is, but what we can predict with a high degree of certainty what will be. And in that not too distant future, we may all experience an evolution from learning “organizations” to learning “organisms.”

Techno-Social Learning…coming soon to a human near you…”Resistance is Futile!” [The Borg]