Written by Klaus Candussi

World of Understanding

About the risk of wave prediction.
And what capito has to do with it.

Who hasn’t tried that before: Sitting on the beach, looking out to sea, trying to figure out which of the many waves rolling in will be the next really big one? The one that is stronger, different from all the others, the one that is particularly effective? And if its effect is only that one has finally become wet on one’s own observation post.

What do waves have to do with change?

The image of a wave is often used in connection with change. After all, we all experience that changes and developments do not usually proceed according to plan or in a straight line.
Whether Nikolai Dmitrijewitsch Kondratjew (also: Kondratieff) liked to sit by the sea is not known. In any case, the economist from the central Russian village of Galuyevskaya was preoccupied with the very big waves, the long-term business cycles. His observations on their regularity were so interesting that today we like to talk about ‘Kondratjev cycles’ in connection with the ‘long waves of the economy’.

When I sit on the shore as a wave analyst, I regularly fail with my diagnosis and the forecast based on it. Apparently, too many factors affect the decision of how far the next wave will actually run up the beach to me. My consolation: Kondratjev first dealt with past waves, so it is easier to make a prognosis.
The steam engine, the railroad and electricity were the determining factors of the three waves that he observed during his lifetime and on which he based his theory of the ups and downs in the free-market capitalist economic system. Even if Schumpeter and others disagreed with the Russian in detail, those waves that were later shaped by petrochemistry or mass transport and by the development of electronics were and are apostrophized as the fourth and fifth ‘Kondratjev’. The regularity of the waves – they came and went at 50-year intervals – may have contributed to this. We all like simple, memorable calculations, and then it does not matter crucially if the more recent cycles do not adhere to them to the letter.
In fact, Kondratyev’s prediction was his undoing. For following his theory, he predicted a recovery of capitalism after the crisis-ridden 1920s, not considering that the ruling doctrine of Stalinism au contraire firmly assumed its demise. This cost him his job and later his life.

The next big wave brings the age of understanding

After the ages of mass production, new distribution and communication channels, mass consumption and mass traffic, we have arrived in the age of electronics, in the information society, a few decades ago.
All the information, all the knowledge in the world is available to all of us in all places and (almost) at all times. What is still to come?

Sure, what’s coming. The next wave. The sea and Kondratjew teach us that. And the Internet is,
And the Internet is already fifty years old, if you generously take its predecessors into account. So it’s high time for the next cycle.
So, in keeping with the vacation season, I look to the sea and predict the next wave. It will sweep away the information age and bring us the ‘age of understanding’. Artificial intelligence will be its basic technology. Don’t be sad, I say to the notoriously nostalgic and the hesitantly fearful of the future! Information is good, but only half the battle if I don’t understand it. Artificial intelligence already helps me today to understand texts written in Finnish. Tomorrow you can parley with me in Farsi and I will understand you in German. And in the middle of it all, capito, which not only makes me understand your words and sentences, but also their content automatically.
The age of understanding will be fine!

And if it comes differently? If the wave breaks before it reaches the shore and a completely different one surges up? When my wave prediction is total nonsense?
Then I’ll be glad that only my legs will get wet. It won’t cost me my head. Long live Kondratyev!

Klaus Candussi

Together with Walburga Fröhlich, Klaus Candussi founded atempo over 20 years ago. Today, as a manager, he dedicates himself to the business field of internationalization and thus drives forward the vision of a world in which all people can live, learn, and work with equal rights.

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