Truth: The Final Frontier?

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We romanticize space, but our search for truth may yield far more wealth and prosperity in the end.

July 2017: “MIT Technology Review” announces first successful attempt to teleport an object through space time. For real. From a mountaintop in Tibet, Chinese scientists beam photons from quantum computer to a satellite 500 km up in space. Science accelerates, as does human potential.

July 2017: Short film spoofing our truth-challenged political climate goes viral. The movie is “Alternative Math.” First grader who’s failed his math test insists to his teacher that 2+2 = 22. Teacher holds her ground and says it’s “4.” Street protests, media frenzy and full-on Orwellian school board tribunal ensue. Teacher is fired for, ironically, suppression of free speech. Parody meets politics.

According to The Washington Post, President Trump has lied or made misleading statements over 10,000 times since taking office. Correcting for accusations of media bias, let’s chop that down to 2,500. Still a record without precedent in the modern era. The term “fake news” has been used by leaders of no less than 28 countries as an attack on views they don’t like. Facts are in retreat.

Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that the arc of history bends toward justice. But the path to truth at the moment seems equal parts progress and rip-tide — an insights revolution, yanked repeatedly sideways by the ever-more prevalent twin forces of tribalism and legitimate fear of being left behind by a globalizing world order. With protectionism driving up walls everywhere, the world looks less flat and more round once again.

Or not. I believe MLK. We are fragmented and democracy is messy, but knowledge shines too bright to turn back now.

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I also believe in Einstein. On a recent trip through New York City I came across a mural of the master himself.  “Life is like a bicycle,” Einstein once said, “you have to keep moving to stay in balance.” And there he was. Riding. And delighting in whatever new truth he had just uncovered.

It’s what we do. We are a species who wants to believe, but we also want to know.

Shortly after Kellyanne Conway’s use of the phrase, “Alternative facts,” sales of George Orwell’s “1984” spiked by 9,500% and required a second reprinting.

It’s also what supply chain leaders do. We deliver boxes. But our real value as central nervous system of the global economy is our role in delivering truth. We are industry’s signal in the noise. Integrity is our brand, and the world relies on us more than ever.

Keep questioning. Keep telling it like it is. Or in the words of Captain Kirk, go boldly. The world and history itself are sure to follow.

Steve Hochman, MVP, Distinguished Advisor, Gartner


Steve Hochman

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