“Cerridwen is the shape-shifting Celtic goddess of knowledge, transformation and rebirth. The Awen, cauldron of poetic inspiration, is one of her main symbols. In one part of the Mabinogion, which is the cycle of myths found in Welsh legend, Cerridwen brews up a potion in her magical cauldron to give to her son Afagddu (Morfran). She puts young Gwion in charge of guarding the cauldron, but three drops of the brew fall upon his finger, blessing him with the knowledge held within. Cerridwen pursues Gwion through a cycle of seasons until, in the form of a hen, she swallows Gwion, disguised as an ear of corn. Nine months later, she gives birth to Taliesen, the greatest of all the Welsh poets.”
“Witchcraft to the ignorant, … simple science to the learned.” Is how Leigh Brackett, a science fiction writer, puts it in a 1942 story “The Sorcerer of Rhiannon.” Indeed, what's brewing in today’s cauldron of changes could easily have made Cerridwen green with envy. After all, we know very well that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke (1962).
We live in an age of great technological change. Affordable access to ever greater processing speed and storage capacity is readily available through the cloud. The marginal costs of producing information goods in our networked society are rapidly falling. So here is an interesting question to ponder: what are some of the hardest problems of our times that can be solved with advanced financial technologies that work like magic?
- Heimans, Jeremy and Timms, Henry (2014, December). Understanding New Power. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2014/12/understanding-new-power
- Piketty, Thomas (2014). Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Belknap Press.
- Rifkin, Jeremy (2014). The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism. Palgrave Macmillan. Talk at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-iDUcETjvo