Hybrid

Think Tank

Welcome to the Hybrid Age

What's the Big Idea?

Parag and Ayesha Khanna's new book Hybrid Reality: Thriving in the Emerging Human-Technology Civilization is bursting with big ideas, but the most fundamental concept is what the authors call 'the Hybrid Age.' The Khannas take their cue from Alvin and Heidi Toffler and their book Future Shock that was published at the dawn of the information age in 1970.

As the Khannas note, the Tofflers anticipated many trends and disruptive forces that are now "in full bloom": the crisis of industrialism, demise of the nuclear family, proliferation of private armies, information overload, and the centrality of cities in global governance, and the DIY revolution. Their most prescient insight, however, was the Tofflers' observation about the pace of change.

The Khannas note that every few centuries mankind makes certain advances that come to define a new era. While we are now living in the Information Age, we are on the verge of a rapid transition into a period that will see many different scientific disciplines such as biomechantronics and synthetic neurobiology merge with each other. The call this the “Hybrid Age.” Humans are now "a template for technology," Parag Khanna tells Big Think, "both the physical incorporation or biological, but also the psychological."

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What's the Significance?

According to Khanna, a new era requires a new vocabulary, and his book supplies many new terms, such as human-technology co-evolution, Technik and technology quotient (TQ). What is the significance of these terms?

Khanna defines Technik as "the values and the skill sets" that allow us to integrate technologies successfully."

So for a country to possess "good technik" that means it has prepared its population "through education or skill development and training, for the economy. An example of a company with good technik would be a smart oil company investing in green technology. 

For individuals, good technik means not only having a high IQ or EQ but TQ, or Technology Quotient. So ask yourself, what are your technology skills, your ability to use gadgets and adapt to new ones? Are you savvy about your privacy settings on the social networks that you belong to? Technik is, in fact, an ever-evolving set of skills, but if there is a principal one to possess, it is the ability to adapt. Then you are truly primed for success in the rapidly changing Hybrid Age. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan

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