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The Third Millennium Project

We are not an Information Age Civilization.
We are an Industrial Age Civilization
using Information Age tools.

We want you to take a step back for a moment and think about the big picture. We want to talk to you about where society, business and government might be headed over the next ten or twenty years. What we are going to tell you may take a bit of thinking on your part. However, we are confident that it is worth your time to absorb it.

Carefully consider the following chart:

table of ages

When Mankind moved from hunting/gathering to agriculture, everything changed.
When Mankind moved from agriculture to industry, everything changed.
If we are in the Information Age....
   Why haven't any of our social institutions changed?

They are about to. Very soon, the Industrialized World will undergo a profound transformation. It will take about 10 to 15 years, start to finish. We understand that this is an astonishing statement, but once you understand the forces at work we know from experience that you will agree.

Civilization moves from one Age to the next in a manner that is described by the mathematics of catastrophe. In other words, the evolutionary forces at work take place over very long periods of time, but all the change happens very rapidly.

Consider Ancient Egypt. Around 3500 BC, the Nile valley only had a few farming villages on it banks. Agricultural villages had been around for about 6,000 years. Over that time the villages became a little larger. More varieties of grains and livestock were domesticated. Pottery was invented. But, really, not much had happened. In essence, Mankind was still a hunting/gathering civilization using Agricultural Age tools. Then, around 3250 BC, suddenly there were great Pyramids and an advanced bronze age civilization!

The Industrial Revolution is said to have started between 1730 and 1760, however the Industrial Age technologies really started in 1455 with the invention of the printing press. For the next few centuries not much changed. Then between 1776 and about 1820, in America and Europe, there was a sudden transformation. Monarchies were replaced with representative democracies. Between 1790 and 1800 stock markets formed and with them large industrial corporations. People left the farms in droves and moved into the cities to work in factories. Extended families turned into nuclear families.

We are just now entering such a period in our history. The parallels are remarkable. Future historians will say that the Information Age began around 1980 with the introduction of the personal computer and cable television. They will say that not much happened for a couple of decades, then between 2000 and 2015 EVERYTHING CHANGED! As amazing as this statement might sound to us, it will seem perfectly normal and natural to future historians. Its precisely how all the other great changes in history happened.

There is an important concept to understand about catastrophe events. They are frequently triggered by a single trend. Often, the triggering event doesn't look very significant at the time. In the case of the Industrial Age it was the invention of the flying shuttle, a device that made large scale, semi-automated looms feasible. The flying shuttle didn't CAUSE the change. It wasn't directly responsible for representative democracies, corporate economies and large industrial cities. Rather it triggered a number of other trends that, in aggregate, caused the Industrial Age Civilization to come into existence.

What is the triggering event this time? You are looking at it. Its the Internet. The Internet is currently going through a couple of critical transformations. One, it is beginning to be Broadband based. Two, it is becoming what scientists call a neural net. When these two phenomena reach a critical level, most likely within the next five years, they will trigger a sequence of events that will cause everything to change. Rapidly.

This may seem unlikely to you. However, remember the flying shuttle. There are dozens of trends that will be set in motion by these changes in the internet. In aggregate, they will place an intolerable strain on Industrial Age social institutions and will lead to a profound reorganization.

The future is like a jigsaw puzzle. You can't tell much about the total picture by looking at one piece. But once you put a number of pieces together the picture begins to emerge. The same is true here. Each trend, by itself, doesn't look very significant. But as they all begin to fit together, the picture of the future begins to emerge - a picture very, very different from today.

You now have a choice to make. If your interest in the future is a practical one, you can subscribe to our free Newsletter, The Third Millennium Newsletter. It focuses on business trends and opportunities. If your interest is primarily scientific, you can join the Third Millennium Discussion Group. Here we will be discussing memic analysis, catastrophe events and the emerging global Information Age Civilization. You, of course, can join both.

Thank you for your time,

Michael Ferguson
The American Polymathic Institute


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