Hereafter you will find an Executive Summary of the White Book and the Table of Contents. Please contact us to receive the full White Paper.
The purpose of this White Paper is to sketch the future challenges and opportunities of “togetherness”, i.e., how we will collaborate (“symly”) in all spheres of life, how technologies must evolve in this sense to allow for Augmented Learning Collaboration (ALC), and shortly introduce SymPlace, the first deep-tech company aiming at developing a collaborative commons providing social and digital technologies for ALC.
The opportunities and challenges of / in an increasingly complex, rapidly changing world require unprecedented levels of collaboration. We increasingly realise that not only “work” is collaboration, but that nearly everything we do together in society - education, health, politics, public services, leisure, culture… - depends on collaboration and its quality.
The emergence of digital collaboration tools– email, texting, social media (Facebook, WhatsApp, TikTok…), communication groupware (Slack, Discord, Teams…), videoconferencing (Zoom, Teams…), electronic white boards (Miro, Mural, Klaxoon…), project management / productivity / team management / collaboration tools (ASANA, TRELLO, Notion…), event scheduling solutions (Calendly, Doodle, Eventbrite…), has deeply changed how we collaborate. They come in conjunction with social crises, notably CoViD, and trends such as the emergence of a changing balance between work and home, the generalisation of smartphones and the globalisation of communities. Our world is increasingly “horizontal”, “networked” and “collaborative”, often extending beyond the usual organisational boundaries.
However current approaches to cope with the challenges of complex collaborative undertakings are still deeply unsatisfactory. We continuously day in and out spoil group intelligence, slow down collaboration dynamics, waste precious resources (notably the time and energy of participants), encourage non-inclusive social practices and kill motivation by boredom and administrative overload. These difficulties are a serious obstacle to the success of complex collaborative tasks. Also, the multiplication of many different collaboration flows makes our daily life increasingly painful; the heavy cognitive overload creates individual stress and collective inefficiencies. In general, the processes for mobilising collective intelligence are often piecemeal and their logic more or less hardcoded in the tools, offering little adaptation possibilities. The fragmentation of tools, which communicate through rudimentary (application programming) interfaces, makes this even worse, as processes and information is scattered over different tools, and / or tools are awkwardly used beyond their functional scope to reduce this overhead.
This White Paper argues that Augmented Learning Collaboration (ALC), by explicitly addressing collaboration as a set of interconnected flows, and thus supporting collaboration over more or less extended time frames, will, in the future, radically transform how we collaborate, not only digitally, but in the real world, thus affecting all domains of society and the economy. At SymPlace we have coined the verb “to symly”, to convey this novel, richer form of “togetherness”; to open our minds to a new understanding, it seemed critical to avoid associations of ideas with existing terms (and, accessorily, create an association of ideas with our upcoming app).
Collaboration is “Augmented”, because ALC complements groups of humans by “armies” of digital virtual agents, so-called symBots, providing a broad range of services to make collaboration flows, so-called symFlos, much more intelligent, effective (“richer”), efficient, inclusive, and fun. Each user will benefit from a Virtual Private Assistant (VPA) helping the user to manage the entirety of her.his collaboration flows and hence better control, as a whole, her.his life and social relations.
Collaboration is “Learning”, because ALC reflects that, because of the complexity of collaboration per se, the success of collaborating individuals depends on their capability at developing proper individual collaboration habits (including their habits of “collaborating” with their former and future self), and the success of collaborating groups depends on the quality of their collective practices. In ALC this learning resides on the combination of the memory of the symFlo (the “selfSymFlo”), and of the form of templates of symFlos which correspond to the “genotype” of symBots. Different mechanisms of “mutation”, “selection” “cooperation” make emerge a living (and hence permanently changing) ecosystem. This ecosystem with time, becomes always more useful as if adapts to a growing range of situations and usages. Mutation takes notably the form metaSymFlos, i.e., symFlos about symFlos, which evaluate and improve them. Selection is catalysed by facilitating the search of adapted symFlo models for specific needs. Cooperation takes places by combining genotypes, i.e., combining symFlo templates, transposing (“crossing over”) practices from one domain to another . Organisations and communities can create their own ecosystems, thus accelerating their capabilities to collaborate. At the level of Humanity, this learning will open the possibility to learn across different spheres of life, cultures and organisations.
For companies, administrations, and associations, this will not only affect how teams coordinate, meet and exchange but also how they interact with other stakeholders; how companies and investors cooperate; how they win and service customers (for business) and / or beneficiaries of public service (for public administrations). For patients and health professionals it will deeply change how people take care of their health and address challenges to their health; how we carry out medical research, test and monitor drugs and watch out for epidemics. For students, trainees, teachers and coaches it will change how we learn and teach. For citizens and politicians, it will change how collective understanding of the situation at hand evolves; how ideas and propositions evolve; how decisions are taken; how laws are not only created, but also monitored, regularly evaluated and, if necessary, deactivated. “Identity”, as we understand it today, will evolve, because we will benefit from an “Extended Identity”, collecting everything that serve future trust-based collaboration.
SymPlace is the first deep technology company to develop digital and social ALC technologies, addressing challenges such as privacy-by-design, user experience and complexity. This will lead, over the next decade, to a new market of (at least) dozens of billions €, with products, services and business models which today are barely imaginable. The resulting collaborative commons / infrastructure and company will ultimately be owned by nobody and be governed by all users. This is essential in our eyes because our collective collaboration practices and individual collaboration habits impact all spheres of our lives and of our society. They carry implicitly our world views, our values and our norms. By making them evolve as a whole we change the world.
And that is everybody’s “business”, our common endeavour.
What is collaboration? What are “collaboration habits” and “collaboration practices”?. 6
The increasing societal complexity raises the bar for collaboration. 7
Digital technologies – we need to start coping with complexity. 7
Two illustrative examples. 8
SymFlos, symBots, VPAs (user, experience) and Extended Identity. 10
Collaborative undertakings as a whole: micro versus macro. 12
Collaboration and time: collaborate slow and fast 13
Configurable collective intelligence & no-code. 14
One flow combining structured and informal collaboration. 15
Deepening collaborative content 16
Embody individual habits and collective practices for collaboration. 18
Building common cultures of practice and developing a commons of collaborative practices. 19
The evolution of individual habits and collective practices, and societal transformations. 21
A general perspective on the change brought about by ALC.. 22
Transforming work and business. 23
Transforming personal relationships and leisure, and defragmenting life (transcending different spheres of collaboration) 24
Transforming education & training. 28
Transforming health & quality of life. 32
Transforming science, research and innovation. 33
Transforming media and publications. 35
Transforming governance, politics, and democracy. 37
A few final words on transforming society. 40
A next-generation digital collaboration infrastructure for societal impact, based on the Web 4.0, the precondition of ALC 42
The science behind ALC.. 42
SymPlace business model and the emergence of a MarketPlace, transforming many economies, and creating a new market 44
A company built through partnerships. 45
A profit-non-for-profit enterprise, at the service of Sym, owned by nobody and governed by all 45