Reshared post from Wayne Radinsky

" We all know that, for example, the iPad is assembled from lots of high tech suppliers. The piece below thinks about that in terms of the knowledge required to build an iPad. That knowledge is more than a single company can handle and it must be spread among a number of companies.

In the early days, life was simple. We did important things like make spears and arrowheads. The amount of knowledge needed to make these items, however, was small enough that a single person could master their production. There was no need for a large division of labor and new knowledge was extremely precious. If you got new knowledge, you did not want to share it. After all, in a world where most knowledge can fit in someone's head, stealing ideas is easy, and appropriating the value of the ideas you generate is hard.

At some point, however, the amount of knowledge required to make things began to exceed the cognitive limit of a single human being. Things could only be done in teams, and sharing information among team members was required to build these complex items. Organizations were born as our social skills began to compensate for our limited cognitive skills. Society, however, kept on accruing more and more knowledge, and the cognitive limit of organizations, just like that of the spearmaker, was ultimately reached.

Today … most products are combinations of knowledge and intellectual property that resides in different organizations. Our world is less and less about the single pieces of intellectual property and more and more about the networks that help connect these pieces. The total stock of information used in these ecosystems exceeds the capacity of single organizations because doubling the size of huge organizations does not double the capacity of that organization to hold knowledge and put it into productive use."
h/t +Russ Abbott, +mike iavelli

Wayne Radinsky originally shared this post:

The cognitive limit of individuals and organizations, and the economic value of keeping secrets — or not. The article says nothing about the cognitive limit of future AI…

MIT Media Lab: The Cognitive Limit of Organizations

This is a slide that I got from Cesar Hidalgo. He used this slide to explain a concept that I think is key to the way we think about how the Media Lab is evolving. The vertical axis of this slide repr…

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