Personalization is the watchword of the 21st century.

Across society more and more people are recognizing the value of human individuality, and coming to expect systems that are responsive to it. This recognition manifests in everything from the way we engage in commerce and entertainment, to the way we want to be treated as patients, students, and employees. It is even changing how we define success: For most people, it is more about personal fulfillment than how you compare to others in wealth, status, and power.

The realization that individuality matters helps explain the profound dissatisfaction we feel with our current systems. We want something more personal, but our industrial systems were built on the assumption of average and the process of standardization -- both, by definition, erase individuality. In a real sense, we are frustrated with our systems, not because they are broken, but because we expect them to do something they were never designed to do: be responsive to human individuality.

Fortunately, scientists and entrepreneurs have been laying the groundwork for a future where personalization defines our systems. Researchers are moving beyond average, leveraging a new science that has generated an unprecedented understanding of individuality. Innovators are moving beyond standardization, harnessing the mechanisms of personalization to change how we learn, work, and live. These advancements, coupled with a public appetite for change, have thrust us into an Age of Personalization; and while we may not fully appreciate the implications and consequences of this shift, the reality is that we are never going back.