Modeling Knowledge Society

Modeling Knowledge Society

Lech W. Zacher (Kozminski University, Poland)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch708

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Human history shows that knowledge was always crucial for the functioning of individuals, societies, organizations and institutions. From the ancient times, there were intellectual temptations to use knowledge as a basis of societal (also state) functioning. Philosophers and scientists throughout history, from Plato to Bacon, and from Marx and Weber to contemporary creators of technology in Silicon Valley are good examples of such temptation—some just in thinking and futurizing; others in practical activities, such as design, management, and production.

The idea of progress and the Enlightenment rationality become still a great hope stimulating discourse on the scientific and technological future. A scientific and technological revolution (term coined by J. D. Bernal in. 1939 – Bernal, 1939) was trumpeted in the second part of the Twentieth Century. It was based on production of new knowledge, as well as its rather prompt diffusion and practical applications, such as nuclear power, new materials and info-communication technologies. Production of knowledge was greatly stimulated by governments (armament race, space exploration, Cold War) and increasingly by businesses enjoying governments’ orders and other support, such as tax reductions, risk sharing, etc.

Postwar economic reconstruction and growing markets were also helpful; many streams of innovations appeared as its result – mostly in the advanced industrial countries; the postcolonial Third World was still delayed, dependent and brain-drained. These knowledge and technology streams were also named revolutions, e.g., the information revolution, biotechnological revolution and nanotechnological revolution (the last one just in the beginning stage). Knowledge, especially technical, dominated economy, and new labels were invented such as information economy, New Economy, digital economy, high tech economy, wikinomics and macrowikonomics (see e.g., Tapscott, 1998, Tapscott & Williams, 2010). All types of economies with such labels can be called knowledge-based or simply knowledge economies.

Changes in economic activities, their fields, structures, organization, technologies, needed competencies and knowledge are a product of advanced societies (de facto of their technological and managerial elites) and have a great performative influence on societies, not only on their elites, political ones included. So the production – seen as an emergence – of technological change and its feedback create a new level – cognitive and practical – of a society. Knowledge is needed to generate change and a new knowledge is added to the social fabric out of this change. Stock of resources and human and social-cultural potentialities together with strategies, policies, with creativity and innovativeness, with imagination and visioning make societies knowledge leaders. So, these factors may constitute a general model of change. However it seems evident that its use and imitation in various countries will be rather bounded by many diverse factors and contexts. So, in modeling knowledge societies in the real world (virtual one as well), one should consider varieties and differences in their history, potentials, economic and political systems, strategies and policies, cultural and educational abilities of people, aspirations, patterns of behavior and so forth. In such, it is needless to prove that knowledge gaps and divides are possible and existing.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Intelligent Ambiance: A new highly technologized and electronized surrounding of human life nowadays. Such surrounding based predominantly on ICTs creates new possibilities for virtually all kinds of human activities.

Knowledge Society: Advanced societies reaching a stage of development predominantly based on production and utilization of knowledge.

Knowledge Production: A result of predominantly scientific activity – from philosophy to information science. Knowledge is a source of reliable information on reality and provides skills to use it. Knowledge can be not only scientific but also social and cultural. Science, education and learning (institutions, practices, policies) as well as their contexts determine the knowledge production.

Knowledge Management: Organizations, not only economic ones, which use knowledge as a main resource of their innovativeness and activities. Knowledge management broadly understood includes knowledge production, acquisition, transfer, application and diffusion.

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