Professional Specialization in Response to the Exponential Generation of Information

The human life-span delimits what an individual may pursue regarding skill, knowledge, and the experiences of this world.

Each day, volumes upon volumes of information are added to virtual and physical repositories around the world concerning the multiplying specialties and sub-specialties of any given profession, and to expect a single one to absorb this material is a blatant overestimation of an individual’s capacities (except an artificial intelligence).

At issue here is the inference that our entire existing and emerging social fabric depends on the cooperative sustainment of those who offer depth to the various disciplines of knowledge.

To impress the essence of this idea, take note of an individual (we will call her Charlie) that has committed her life to the understanding of, say, the human endocrine system.

The depth of this endocrinologist’s knowledge of hormones, their pathways, chemical properties, and so forth has surely afforded the society in which she dwells an indispensable foundation upon which other professionals of the medical variety may further perfect their arts.

Now, respecting the subsistence this bright but narrowly focused endocrinologist, it must be agreed here that because of the time-consuming focus in depth of knowledge of hormones, it is fairly possible that Charlie does not have the skills or knowledge required to maintain the interconnecting systems upon which her entire livelihood and thus pursuance of the finer points of endocrinology is potentiated.

She needs to eat, she needs to be able to commute to work, and she definitely needs the keen eye of a medical professional if an illness arises. If, instead of endocrinology, she decided to familiarize herself with self-sustained living, that is, cultivating her own food, shelter, water, transport, communication, textile, etc., her daily routine would offer little time that could be dedicated to extra-subsistent activities (like endocrinology).

Every single technological advancement exists as the result of someone, somewhere specializing in the field of knowledge requisite to its emergence. This specialization of profession (or class) has its beginnings in the seminal practices of agriculture and animal husbandry which provided the time necessary to explore new horizons.

All of this is to say, again, that as the our professions continue to specialize in response to the multiplication of information evinced in this digital century, every member of our society ineluctably becomes more dependent on the society. Interesting thought.


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