by Menno Scheers, Club of Amsterdam
The Club of Amsterdam organised a conference about ‘the future of the European Knowledge Society’ on January 28, 2004. This report will give you a brief summary of the topics and the discussion between the panel and the participants of the Club of Amsterdam. The participants of the event filled out a questionnaire; you can find the results in the report. Wanda van Kerkvoorden (CEO, SOLV New Business Advocaten) was the host of this evening.
Five speakers gave an introduction to stimulate the discussion. Wendy L. Schultz (Futurist, Oxford, UK) said that futurists support people to explore the future in order to make decisions. In case of the European Knowledge Society they would research what the design questions are for a knowledge society: What is it, who are involved in designing, what are the guiding values and what are the goals and the assumptions?
It’s difficult to say what kind of people will live in the knowledge society. At this moment we live for example in a print society with books. Digital media will change communication. Our concept of the knowledge society is print based. Hypertext and hypermedia will stimulate other ways of thinking. This will result in achieving non linear thinking. In 2048 the last linear thinker dies. We are raised to think from A to B to C. Children will be raised in thinking from A to multiple points. The cultural change will take a whole generation. The next generation needs to be involved in designing the knowledge society.
According to Paul Iske (Chief Knowledge Officer, ABN Amro Bank, Corporate Finance) we should try to make people more smart and organisations more intelligent. Most companies state that they don’t have problems with fully using the intellectual capital of their employees. Research in those organisations often tells the opposite. 66% of the participants said that their organisation / company is exploring the possibilities of knowledge management. 29% had the feeling that the knowledge they currently have is fully utilised in their current position. All participants at the conference thought that companies and organisations should develop better possibilities for life long learning.
Knowledge is a reusable and surpassable experience according to René Gude (Managing Director, The International School for Philosophy). Even monkeys have a presentation of past, present and future. Humans have speech. The knowledge society started when apes started to walk and talk and became humans. Europe should create strong cities. People should be aware that they live in a globalised world. We should think like Athens (wealth of knowledge on a small geographical scale) and act like Romans (wealth of bureaucratic organisation and exploitation on a large geographical scale).
Frans Nauta (CEO, Stichting Nederland Kennisland, Secretary, Dutch Innovation Platform) said that The Netherlands is not doing very well in developing the knowledge economy. The Netherlands didn’t develop new multinational companies in the new economy like Finland and Ireland. The Netherlands should focus on several sectors and try to become leading in those sectors. 81% of the visitors thought that knowledge based innovation would be one of the main priorities of their organisation / company in the future. 76% thought that the Dutch and European government should make a bigger effort to stimulate knowledge development.
All people should profit from the knowledge society according to Thomas Thijssen (Chief Learning Officer, Club of Amsterdam). A lot of attention is given to the knowledge economy and its knowledge workers. But will non workers profit from the knowledge society as well? Will for example more babies survive? We need to share the work that needs to be done applying all our talents. We have to develop a full engagement society. 66% thought that the shift to a knowledge society would really change their lives.