All posts by Robert Harris

About Robert Harris

I have been an innovator and entrepreneur my whole adult life since I graduated with a PhD in physics and joined a startup a firm in La Jolla, California (SAI) over 30 years ago as an employee-owner member of the founding team. This company grew tremendously, eventually going public, and in 2013 split into two $billion+ publicly traded firms: SAIC and Leidos. I left my first and only job ever at SAI after ten years with vested stock and started up a number of firms based on innovative ideas that had been bubbling in my mind: I founded and operated three companies in the 1980s in technology, communications and education, respectively; I helped three other firms I get off the ground and go public in the 1990s in IT, engineering, and product development, respectively. All of these opportunities and more were driven by paradigm shifts large and small. Starting in 1990, I began to conduct research to understand paradigm shifts broadly and deeply through my firm Paradigm Research International, LLC. My business since then has been using ongoing PRI research findings, plus my many years of hands-on experience, to advise client organizations large and small on how these shifts are or will affect them, and how they can respond to the threats and opportunities they pose.

Hope For The Future

©Robert Harris, PhD

After the past two worst nightmare years ever from the Covid pandemic, my best hope for humanity going into 2022 is for us to focus the awesome power of our human imagination to find new and better ways of loving life and each other.

“Conflict” has always been at the heart of “living” because without conflict, there would be no “change” of any kind: good, bad, or ugly; no reason for living! We desperately need each other because we are all different and curious to some degree of what others think and do. Hello! The “collective death” caused by isolating individuals physically from one other is the worst we can do to others. This is what Covid did to all of us.

So how have we collectively responded to this isolation? We blame and fight each other as a collective roar of disappointment with our isolation. We have met the enemy and it is us! In the last two years world civilization has seemly regressed back to humanity’s beginnings fighting just to survive.

Fighting to the death is so millions of years ago! Leave “fighting” to professional sports for pleasuring the reptilian parts of our brains.

Maybe humanity just arrived at a critical tipping point when Covid-19 hit our frictionless world riddled with new global instabilities triggered by changing times and technologies?  Imagine we are poised at the tipping point of witnessing and living through a historic transition from the Industrial Age to a new epoch.

I believe this new era is already visible, and maybe we are half way there. It is easy to imagine that the underlying explosion of rising conflict all around the world is similar to the way the artistic Renaissance (14th century) era merged with the scientific Enlightenment era (16th century) to challenge society norms of the times.

Civilization has had a good 250 year run of the mechanical Industrial Revolution leading up to the next tipping point of change. We have learned the Industrial Age’s good, bad and ugly impacts; now it is ready for a major overall.

I have been fortunate to make a good and interesting life for 80 years living in the future during the present time of this exciting era according to the famous dictum of SyFy writer (Neuromancer 1984), William Gibson: “The future is already here. It’s just unevenly distributed.

I am calling this new epoch the Smart-Magination-Revolution (SMR) of the Frictionless Age.

I write about the three main things I have learned during my 80 years of “living in the future:”

(1) Mechanical knowledge alone is useful and predictable, but is ultimately boring;

(2) Artistic knowledge alone is pleasing and unpredictable, but is always exciting;

(3) Practice improves both Mechanical and Artistic knowledge, but there exists a natural blend between the two for each person that is perfectly satisfying.

This post starts a new series of essays on my Life, Work, and Meaning blogs in the new Frictionless Age.