Disrupt or Be Disrupted

Either join the disruptors or prepare to be disrupted.

Disruptive technology is a tiresome cliche, as every Twitter/ AirBnB/ Uber/ Skype/etc. wannabe start-up declares itself disruptive. That the vast majority of self-congratulatory start-ups are over-hyped and derivative should not distract us from the larger reality that some technologies do in fact disrupt how things are done.

Fossil-fueled mechanization, for example, turned an overwhelmingly rural farming society into a highly urbanized services-dominated economy.

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Digital file-sharing turned the $14 billion music industry into a $7 billion industry.

And now driverless vehicles are poised to disrupt the taxi and trucking sectors in ways few predicted.

The core idea of Disrupt or be Disrupted is that every sector and industry that avoids being disrupted just becomes a fatter target for disruption.

Higher education is a prime example. The industry has successfully staved off disruption by maintaining a lock on credentialing/accreditation–the famous signaling value of a college diploma, which verifies nothing about what the student learned or knows.

40 Alternatives to Col... James Altucher Best Price: $5.34 Buy New $4.95 (as of 02:30 EDT - Details) Now that student loan debt is $1.3 trillion and the administrative bloat of higher education can no longer be obscured, the industry is becoming a fatter, juicier target for massive technological disruption by the day.

As I outlined in my book The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy, it is not that difficult to lower costs by 90% and improve the actual education process.

Employers should receive more than an increasingly worthless signal–they should be offered an accreditation of each individual’s actual skills and knowledge. This is self-evident, but impossible in the current cartel-state arrangement.

The Changing World of Work 4: The “Signal” Value of Credentials Is Eroding

Healthcare is another sector with bloated costs and protected fiefdoms that is ripe for fundamental disruption. Reductions of 50% or more that lead to better overall health do not require whizbang science fiction advances; simply eliminating the paperwork and cartels and making patients responsible for their care and the costs of their treatments would be enough to unleash a disruptive revolution.

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