The Curse of the Disciplines

Much of the creative potential in our world is either locked inside the minds of physicists and chemists who have been trained to think like scientists or in the minds of artists and architects who do not have the scientific knowledge to bring their ideas to fruition. This is the curse of the disciplinary society that has ingrained in our culture by the modern university. Specialization has taken place along arbitrary lines dictated by the academy’s self-serving status preservation motive and its status as guardian of late capitalism.

The silos of knowledge created by the arbitrary disciplines keep human & intellectual capital subservient to financial and physical capital even though technology breakthroughs in the last twenty years have ameliorated intellectual capital’s subsidiary status in reality. With these breakthroughs (and as we are on the verge of nearly a dozen more), the world can be disrupted and reshaped from one minute to the next based on the power of an idea and the willingness of small groups of people to execute on it. The academy, whose endowment funds, “endowed chairs,” research grants, and other financial wheel-greasing, has become the pawn of the status quo interests in business and politics who do not want to face competitive pressure from the market.

In the past, it was the banks and financial institutions alone that prevented new market entrants who could compete with established companies, but with the advent of venture capital and more importantly, the transformation of new businesses’ cost curve in the Information Age, these traditional barriers have become less and less effective. The modern university is now all that stands in the way of a tidal wave of innovation and market competition that will remake our world into a richer, more vibrant, freer place with greater equality in the distribution of wealth, more opportunity, and higher levels of income mobility than have ever been seen in human history.

But to get there, we need to rethink the entire way we organize our learning process to avoid the kinds of tunnel vision that permeate every layer of what passes for our most innovative research today.

Rather than training physicists, we need to find people who are passionate about building structurally sound skyscrapers that have 1-inch walls and then help them acquire the knowledge to create the new materials necessary to make that a reality.

We must break down every barrier between the disciplines by raising up a new generation of innovators who do not even see that there were barriers before, who have not been corrupted by the arbitrary divisions that have been passed down to us by the academy and the standard-bearers of late capitalism. The kinds of specialists who arise from this new approach will be specialized in solving particular, real problems faced by people in the world.

Big Data, Robotics, 3D Printing, Nano-materials, artificial intelligence, alternative transactions, and much more are putting a new reality at our fingertips, one devoid of many of the physical limitations that currently hold us back. But we must be prepared to harness these exponential technologies rapidly and efficiently.

Project Exosphere is a problem-solving syndicate, a renegade alternative to traditional university education creating just this kind of community and environment to cultivate the next generation of innovator-entrepreneurs. As we launch in Chile later this year, we will share our progress and ask for your help in challenging the most ingrained assumptions in our society.