If you would like to be considered truly great, never stop learning. This quote from Michelangelo at the youthful age of 87 proves just such a thing. It would have been understandable after all that he had created to rest on his accomplishments. Being truly great in any field takes a great deal of obsession. It becomes less of what you do and more a part of who you are. In this vein of thought I am close to being a great consumer of pizza, but I digress.
With the rapid pace of change in nearly every field, it would be foolish for anyone to think they know everything about…well…anything.
Buckminster Fuller created a scale known as the “Knowledge Doubling Curve” which as you might have guessed is how long it takes human knowledge to double. Here is what he discovered. Until 1900 the scope of human knowledge doubled every 100 years. Fast forward 45 years to the end of Word War II and knowledge doubled every 25 years or in a quarter of the time it took less than 50 years before. While that was impressive, here are the current numbers – as of 2013 knowledge doubled every 13 months! That is roughly 1/25th of the time it took in the 1950s. By the year 2020 it is estimated knowledge will double every 12…hours! In case your knowledge of math has not doubled recently, that is twice a day! By the time we wake up tomorrow the entire scope of human knowledge could be four times what is was when we went to sleep the night before!
If you are currently enrolled as a student, or trying to learn a new occupation this rate of change can sound scary. What it really represents is opportunity. With the internet people are sharing and connecting information faster and easier than ever. You could be reading this shortly after I wrote it and doing so halfway around the world. I live in a small town called West Allis in the United States, yet some of my most ardent followers come from India, Canada and various tropical islands I did not know existed, but are not on my travel list. With Artificial intelligence we are learning to predict and map human behavior in many different ways.
To some, this may sound intimidating and even a little ‘big brotherish’ but with knowledge comes responsibility. We can use this knowledge to serve and create or to enslave and destroy. That is why I encourage all of you reading this blog to learn as much as you can. Effort and knowledge are the two great equalizers. With today’s technology change is right around the corner and it is at the fingertips of every person with access to a local library.
Be like the great artist above. When your 87th birthday rolls around let us hear you proclaim, “I am still learning.”