Some 10 years ago, I made a prediction about the future of the human mind; I foretold that in the near future, the “power and wealth that is now defined by capital will then be defined by the power of the mind – fitness of the mind.” the article was titled; REDEFINING THE WORD `POVERTY`. Now 10 years later, early signs of what I talked about are beginning to appear. Although we are still in a transition phase, things are beginning to shape up or should I say shakeup. New technologies and new knowledge are creating a revolution by not only changing the world but also changing the rules of the game. The old way of doing things is becoming obsolete.
In this new world, dogmatic mindset and inutile knowledge will be synonymous with poverty, but if you play by the new rules then you can expect to be rewarded. The new rules according to Thomas L. Friedman, the author of, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations (Penguin, 2017), demand that you must adapt to a lifelong learning lifestyle. For example, to keep hold of a job “you have to know more, you have to update what you know more often, and you have to do more creative things with it.” Compared to the pre-internet world, this change is nothing short of a major paradigm shift.
More importantly, this shift is accelerating and the change is causing significant disruption in most areas of life. We have seen the acceleration in technology. Ever since the launch of internet and smartphones, the pace of progress and innovation has certainly accelerated, “what we are experiencing today is shorter and shorter innovation cycles and less and less time to learn to adapt.” The human mind does not evolve as fast as technology is evolving. The challenge we face is that the “reshaping is happening faster than we have yet been able to reshape ourselves, our leadership, our institutions, our societies, and our ethical choices.” Hence, “there is a mismatch between the change in the pace of change and our ability to develop the learning systems, training systems, management systems, social safety nets, and government regulations that would enable citizens to get the most out of these accelerations and cushion their worst impacts.”
What Is Meant By The Term Acceleration?
The book’s main theme focuses on Moore’s Law. Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel, observed that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year. He predicted that this trend will continue into the foreseeable future. This theory subsequently became Moore's Law. Thomas L. Friedman says that technological innovations and inventions are accelerating in accordance with Moore’s Law. Thus, we as species “have no choice but to learn to adapt to this new pace of change.” The problem we face is that we are already playing catch-up!
If we continue to be complacent, we may soon find ourselves sleepwalking into some sort of dystopia. My definition of dystopia is when everyone you know is trying to escape from reality. Future, uncertainty and anxiety go hand in hand. Uncertainty does not mean we let fear take control of our future. Social changes are intended to be disruptive, not feared.
The Revolutions Are Always Disruptive
We are witnessing revolutionary changes in many sectors. Just as the industrial revolution brought changes a few centuries ago, new technology is disrupting the old way of doing things. Over the last 10 years, e-commerce has seen major changes, so have taxi businesses and now data. Once the driverless cars become the norm we should witness more changes. Unequivocally, “The gap between science fiction and science is getting really narrow now, because as soon as someone has that idea and articulates it, it can be manifested in a very short period of time.”
Anything we can create – we will create, is the norm when it comes to inventions. “We are now able to digitize four senses – sight, sound, touch, and hearing – and are working on the fifth: smell.” If “the twentieth century was all about getting you to love the things we make. And the twenty-first is all about how to make the things you love.” We should expect some sublime advances in the technology sector soon. But on the other side, we will soon also see artificial intelligence (AI) or robots doing most of the jobs which humans had been doing in the past.
Will We Be Competing With The (AI) For Jobs?
Many institutes and researchers are racing to create the first fully functional AI robots. A lot of money is being poured into artificial cognition research, results are slowly appearing. Will the robots take all our jobs? Should we be afraid of the machines? Friedman’s answer is that “The robots are not destined to take all the jobs. That happens only if we let them – if we don’t accelerate innovation in the labor/education/start-up realms, if we don’t reimagine the whole conveyor belt from primary education to work to lifelong learning.”
Yes, we need to rethink our education system. Our education system was created over a century ago for the economy that existed then, now it is out of date. Without increasing spending on schools and educational institutes and thereby enabling individuals to explore their creative hidden potentials, we are unlikely to achieve victory over the AI, that is my argument. There is much fearmongering broadcasted about the artificial intelligence (AI) in the media. However, I am a strong believer in the potential of the human mind. I am confident that the human mind will always hold more power than AI! The AI is there to enhance and aid human life. What we need to remember is that creative destruction has always been part of human life. These disruptions to traditional industries are a source of fear for Luddites, for the creative minds it ought to be nothing more than a challenge.
The power of the human mind, the real power lies in the pursuit of knowledge. The future economies will demand knowledge-based workforce. The human capital will be, “talent, skills, tacit know-how, empathy, and creativity.” Our central challenge “is the issue of skills—not the issue of jobs per se.” History shows us that “technology can create demand for totally new jobs.” I completely and wholeheartedly agree that we “need more of the three Rs —reading, writing, and arithmetic—and more of the four Cs—creativity, collaboration, communication, and coding.” More than everything else, “the key to success will be self-motivation,” for learning should never stop.
The Thriving Future
Instead of embracing fear, we need to embrace the future; we need to take on the challenge as “most of the solutions to the big problems in the world will come from scientific progress.” As far as societies are concerned, Friedman argues, “those societies that are most open to flows of trade, information, finance, culture, or education, and those most willing to learn from them and contribute to them, are the ones most likely to thrive in the age of accelerations. Those that can’t will struggle.”
However, Friedman omitted to mention, what I feel is THE biggest problem that societies all over the world are struggling with; the debt/usury related poverty. I was hoping that Friedman would discuss the fate of the usury system in the age of acceleration. Perhaps the mainstream journalists are still forbidden from discussing taboo topics like usury. My prediction is that the usury system will become obsolete in the near future. It will be discarded as soon as the age of empires is over, perhaps within a decade or so.
Nevertheless, this is a timely book that is intended to awaken the reader to the potential risks, and how to avoid being ill-prepared for the inevitable and accelerating future dawning upon us. The book is highly engaging, insightful, thought-provoking and inspiring. Nearly every major related topic is covered. To fully appreciate this book, the readers need to be clear headed, lucid and open to new ideas. The book is aimed at the general reader as well as professionals.
The Mother Nature
The unprecedented changes taking place everywhere are affecting everyone and everything, including Mother Nature. Friedman dedicated a whole chapter to the issue of how we are affecting nature. He discusses “nine key planetary boundaries that we humans must make sure we do not breach …..as those boundaries could set in motion chain reactions that might flip the planet into a new state that could make it impossible to sustain modern civilization.” These boundaries include climate change, biodiversity, deforestation and biogeochemical flows.
Some argue that the greed of the multinational corporations has caused irreparable damage to much of Mother Nature. Friedman too believes that “we have reaped the rewards of technological progress without due concern for its unintended consequences.” “The system today appears to be in runaway mode,” and “Increased demand for goods has led to the use of ever-advanced and more invasive technology to extract natural resources that keep the economy growing.” The question is; when will our leaders realise that these natural resources are finite. Sooner or later we will run out of these natural resources.
Perhaps this is why the rich elite tries to control the flow of information and knowledge. I have discussed in the past, in restoring the mind, that in the near future, human population will be divided into two groups; those that are information-rich and those that are information-poor. Yes, knowledge is power! We must not allow ourselves to be stymied without adequate tools and skills due to lack of educational opportunities made available at the right time. We need to “increase our society’s ability to adapt.” What will be required is “strong fundamentals in writing, reading, coding, and math; creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration; grit, self-motivation, and lifelong learning habits.”
The human mind is very powerful; in this age of acceleration, we have a great chance to make use of the opportunities available to maximise our creative potential. As Friedman says, “we must rewire our societal tools and institutions so that they will enable us to keep pace.” Only by acknowledging that humanity has a new challenge and harnessing our creative abilities we can restore the mind.