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Can a Nation Lose Its Cognitive Surplus Due to Aging?

December 20, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 96

The other day, I was sitting in Starbucks talking to a retiree about various industries, nations, economies, and the challenges we all face in the global inter-connected world. Although he had plenty of business experience, and had made quite a name for himself, as well as a few bucks, his mind just wasn't what it was. He had difficulty reasoning through various concepts, challenges, or deriving simple solutions.

In fact, I'd say he just wasn't as sharp as he once was, still for 75-years old, he could hold his own with anyone of his age I suppose. Still, next to a 35-45 year old entrepreneur, executive, or mover and shaker, well, he's just not able. Now then, since this is more than common, I'd like to discuss this, specifically; what it means to our aging society for a moment. We know that nations with very young average age have challenges and problems as the population is naïve, but highly productive.

If a nation has an average age of 18-25 that nation will have a challenge with civil unrest if things don't go smoothly, for instance dealing with an economic crisis. On the other side of the scale a substantial aging population with little if any productivity, say an average age of 70-75 means lots of costs, and slow minds. Just not able to make things happen as they once did you see?

There was a rather alarming article in Physorg (dot) com Online News on December 19, 2011 titled; "Brain function - A new way to measure the burden of aging across nations" which stated:

"Cognitive function may be a better indicator of the impact of aging on an economy than age-distribution, with chronological age imposing less of a social and economic burden if the population is "functionally" younger, according to a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences," and " an indicator of cognitive ability - memory recall - is better in countries where education, nutrition, and health standards are generally higher. Aging populations are of concern as there is a greater cost to society in terms of aged care, age related disease, and reduced capacity to contribute to society."

There is a gentleman who presented at the TED Conferences last year named; Clay Shirky. He had a talk titled: How cognitive surplus will change the world. He explains that the cognitive surplus, thanks to increased productivity, good economic factors, decent standard of living, and computers has allowed for "massive amounts" of left-over brain power, which helps advance a society, nation, culture, and even uplift the entire Third World as well.

However, when that cognitive advantage is no longer, then what I ask? Well, what say you? Please consider all this and think on it.

Lance Winslow has launched a new provocative series of eBooks on Innovation for America. Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank; http://www.worldthinktank.net

Source: EzineArticles
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