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Parag Khanna: “Hybrid Age,” obviously, is this frontier of the Information Age.  And, you know, we’re not going to be in – just as historically we’ve moved every few centuries through a new era, with the Information Age, our sort of psychological view is sort of limited because we confine ourselves to thinking about IT, which is so often the case today.  But what about when technology clusters merge with each other?  You create things like biomechantronics and synthetic neurobiology and all these new fields because, in fact, scientific disciplines are merging with each other.  So the hybridification of those is a very important part of the “Hybrid Age.”  We are now a template for technology, both the physical incorporation or biological, but also the psychological.  And those are the twin pillars of the “Hybrid Age.”  

And it wasn’t intentional to have so many neologisms in this book, but one finds, naturally, in the beginning of each sort of era that this becomes necessary, and, in a way, the sum total of the new terminology in the book helps to shape it and to make the case in itself.  So whether it’s “Hybrid Age” or “geotechnology” or “technik” or “technology quotient” and these kinds of things, I think each of those helps to structure the argument.  

But "technik” is a German word going back, you know, a century or more in terms of when – as the philosophical discourse using this term arose.  It’s obviously not synonymous with just technology.  It’s actually about the values and the skillsets and the ability to harness and to manage that technology.  It’s the kind of social environment of technology or the ecosystem.  That’s what “technik” is.  We view technik and the corresponding technology quotient as our ability to harness and to integrate these technologies successfully, for better rather than for – or for good rather than for ill.  So there isn’t one particular skill, per se.  It’s an attribute.  

Now, for a nation to have good technik would mean that it is prepared for, or is preparing its population through education or skill development and training, for the economy.  So, for example, you know, we’ve, in America, been worried about outsourcing of jobs to India and other countries over the last decade.  But in fact suddenly, more jobs are lost to automation than to outsourcing.  So good technik would mean being prepared, actually, for the competition from technology for work.  

A company can have good technik as well.  Appreciating the fact that technology’s advancing towards producing alternative energies, and therefore you find that smart oil companies are actually the largest investors in green technology.  They’re exercising some pretty clever technik.  

And then individuals should have not just IQ or EQ, but TQ, Technology Quotient.  What are your technological skills, whether it’s your knowledge of gadgets or do you know how to program, but also very important social and economic things, like are you understanding the privacy policies of the social networks that you are joining.  As we know, that’s incredibly controversial, data privacy, and very sensitive.  So smart TQ means really understanding your exposure to being hacked in those vulnerabilities and managing that well.  

So there is many different things that could fall within having good technik or having high technology quotient.  And that might always be changing in fact. 

Directed / Produced by

Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd


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