While 55% agreed with the statement that the future for the hyperconnected will generally bepositive, many who chose that view noted that it is more their hope than their best guess, and anumber of people said the true outcome will be a combination of both scenarios. The researchresult here is really probably more like a 50-50 outcome than the 55-42 split recorded through
survey takers’ votes. Respondents were asked to select the posit
ive or the negative, with nomiddle-ground choice, in order to encourage a spirited and deeply considered writtenelaboration about the potential future of hyperconnected people.We did not offer a third alternative
that young people’s brains would not b
e wired differently
but some of the respondents made that argument in their elaborations. They often noted that
people’s patterns of thinking will likely change, though the actual mechanisms of brain function
will not change.Survey participants did offer strong, consistent predictions about the most desired life skills foryoung people in 2020. Among those they listed are: public problem-solving through cooperativework (sometimes referred to as
solutions); the ability to search effectively forinformation online and to be able to discern the quality and veracity of the information onefinds and then communicate these findings well (referred to as
); synthesizing(being able to bring together details from many sources); being strategically future-minded; the
ability to concentrate; and the ability to distinguish between the “noise” and the message in the
ever-growing sea of information.Here is a sampling of their predictions and arguments:
The environment itself will be full of data that can be retrieved almost effortlessly, and itwill be arrayed in ways to help people
young and old
navigate their lives. Quick-twitch younger technology users will do well mastering these datastreams.
brains are being rewired to adapt to the new information-processing skillsthey will need to survive in this environment.
“Memories are becoming hyperlinks to information triggered by keywords and URLs.We are becoming ‘persistent paleontologists’ of our own external memories, as our
brains are storing the keywords to get back to those memories and not the fullmemories themselves,
, CEO of Geoloqi.
There is evidence now that “supertaskers” can handle several complicated tasks well,
noted communications expert
. And some survey respondents noted that itis not necessarily only young adults who do this well.
Young people accustomed to a diet of quick-fix information nuggets will be less likely toundertake deep, critical analysis of issues and challenging information. Shallow choices,an expectation of instant gratification, and a lack of patience are likely to be commonresults, especially for those who do not have the motivation or training that will helpthem master this new environment. One possible outcome is stagnation in innovation.
Another possibility, though, is that evolving social structures will
create a new “divisionof labor”
that rewards those who make swift, correct decisions as they exploit newinformation streams
rewards the specialists who retain the skills of focused, deep