In this age of hyper-competition, and hyper-connectivity the Internet constitutes a powerful tool for inventing radical new business models and leveraging the reach of ever-exponentiating technology. But as brain scientist and entrepreneur Jeff Stibel explains in his New York Times Bestseller Breakpoint: Why the Web will Implode, Search will be Obsolete, and Everything Else you Need to Know about Technology is in Your Brain and his previous book Wired for Thought: How the Brain Is Shaping the Future of the Internet, how one must first understand the true nature of networks and their limits.
The Internet is more than just a series of interconnected computer networks: it’s the first real replication of the human brain outside the human body. To leverage its virtual power, one must be able to harness the most important lessons of the natural world’s and our own biology. Stibel takes us to the root of this conundrum.
Why the Internet will implode, search will be obsolete, and other truths from the intersection of the brain, biology and technology
We are living in a world in which cows send texts to farmers when they’re in heat and the most valuable real estate in New York City houses computers, not people. Robots are delivering cups of coffee and some of humanity’s greatest works are created by crowds.
We are in the midst of a networking revolution—set to transform the way we access the world’s information and the way we connect with one another. Studying biological systems is perhaps the best way to understand such networks, and nature has a lesson for us if we care to listen: bigger is rarely better in the long run. The deadliest creature is the mosquito, not the lion. It is the quality of a network that is important for survival, not the size, and all networks—the human brain, Facebook, Google, even the internet itself—eventually reach a breakpoint and collapse.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that reaching a breakpoint can be a step forward, allowing a network to substitute quality for quantity.
In Breakpoint, Stibel takes audiences to the intersection of the brain, biology, and technology. He shows how exceptional companies are using their understanding of the internet’s brain-like powers to create a competitive advantage by building more effective websites, utilizing cloud computing, engaging social media, monetizing effectively, and leveraging a collective consciousness. Indeed, the result of these technologies is a more tightly connected world with capabilities far beyond the sum of our individual minds. Breakpoint offers a fresh and exciting perspective about the future of technology and its effects on all of us.
The Internet is a Brain:
Predicting the future of technology and business from the inside out
In his multimedia lecture, Stibel demonstrates how networks (professional, social and otherwise) have changed and what that implies for how people connect and form communities; What the Internet-and online business opportunities-will look like in the future; What the next stage of artificial intelligence will be and what opportunities it will present for businesses.
Addressing the forward-looking interactive aspects and potential predictive power of the Internet – which is evolving to mimic the brain’s own abilities – Stibel asserts that a more personalized Internet will emerge. As Internet applications get to know the real “you,” the Internet will begin to tailor its opinions which will enable very personalized reviews and information, and it will be able to quickly match demographic, psychographic, and behavioral information. And, as the Internet advances farther in this direction, the Internet will get better at interpreting subjective thoughts and opinions, and it will get better and better at making predictions and this will enable businesses to do a better job serving their customers.
Stibel also presents varied examples of how exceptional companies are using their understanding of the Internet’s brain-like powers to create competitive advantage – such as building more effective Web sites, predicting consumer behavior, leveraging social media, and creating a collective consciousness.
Even in such personal areas as healthcare, the Internet will be able to help medical companies like WebMD evolve to become a more interactive service, while significantly bringing down the cost of insurance. The user’s experience will be more like being in a doctor’s office where the patient is being asked a series of symptomatic questions and offered medical advice. People will have their own virtual doctors who will come to know them and their medical histories as well as their real doctors do.
Ultimately, Stibel predicts that the evolution of the Internet will fuel a new era of productivity where software advances will outpace the growth we previously saw in hardware; where intelligence will emerge not from brute force but from educated guesses — remember that the brain is a slow computer so we did not gain intelligence from sheer size or speed. What makes us smart is that are brains are slow, and speculative in many respects. When the Internet can no longer count on productivity gains from brute force or sheer peed, it will turn to other measures and that will surely come from mimicking the power of the brain.
Jeffrey M. Stibel is a brain scientist and entrepreneur who has helped build numerous public and private companies. Currently Chairman and CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp, Stibel was President of Web.com, a public company that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses on the Web. He is also Chairman of BrainGate, a brain implant company that allows people to use their thoughts to control electrical devices. He serves on the boards of a number of private and public companies, as well as academic boards for Brown and Tufts University. Stibel studied for his PhD at Brown University, where he was the recipient of the Brain and Behavior Fellowship, and studied business at MIT’s Sloan School of Business.