Could, Faith, Be Wrong ?

thoughts on the future of humanity…

image via: Google images from YouTube official trailer video, iRobot…

“Kodak hired a futurist to predict the future of film. She got it right — then got fired” — The Economist on futurist, Faith Popcorn.

Now, Faith, predicts “The future of humanity is robotic” — me, I wonder.

To me, the difference between predicting the future of film, and predicting the future of humanity are two completely different things. You can glean from watching the video that the process implied, personal interviews and databases, may be missing a few elements. Similar to a hammer seeing nothing but nails, processes are not malleable to every situation, nor are they dependable to render valuable insights in each and every query. Humans are not currently known for critical thinking.[1]

“Too many facts, too little conceptualizing, too much memorizing, and too little thinking.” — Paul Hurd

The following assertions: the world’s population is growing not shrinking[2]; the idea that people over profit is a growing concern and concept in enterprise design, formulation and operation[3]; the growing global gap in wealth inequality[4]; the rising cost of technology manufacture[5]; the dwindling public trust in government and enterprise[6]; and the increasing awareness of the dire need to address climate issues[7], separately point to very critical issues. But, what if these issues are actually working in concert, as a collection of connected phenomena, which might render a different, not-so-robotic future?

That question, coupled with the idea that people are waking up on a global scale, no longer satisfied with the status quo, no longer tolerant of being dictated to is a powerful counter argument. A rising of a new breed of people, as we saw in the Arab Spring of 2010, that are armed with new technologies that bring both mass and force to their voices in a way that creates change.

Connected Phenomena:

We must recognize that rising population drives two concerns, sustainability in terms of regional and global resources, and personal viability, people being contributing members of society. When humans can not get what they need, then the begin to devise ways of taking what they need to sustain themselves. As, Levitt & Dubner, pointed out in Freakonomics, the reduction of crime in U.S. cities was likely the result of Roe vs. Wade, a legal decision and not better crime fighting. Simply the idea that less unwanted children equals less crime. Ding! We need to apply this kind of thinking to the possibility that in a highly robotized society, where growing human populations have less and less to do, that we might be inviting a big problem worthy of forward looking policy now.

Another idea, that people will just shift to other, more essential skills and requsite jobs is not well thought through either. First, humans do not shift easily, and their ability to do so relies on a multifaceted puzzle. Second, this also assumes that the past trend of technological job growth will continue, which seems unlikely in a world where robots are already capable of designing and building new robots. Third, the concept that there is a growing need for increased social skills and collaboration[8] between humans incorrectly assumes that such collaboration will be socially positive. When vast groups of humans have less to do, and their activity is governed by robots, who is to say that what they will come up with is a social plus?

We must also not forget that the current and next wave of enterprise leaders are concerned. They are concerned for the planet and they are concerned for their global brother and sisters. They are concerned enough to both think past the moment, and take effective, decisive action when it comes to putting purpose before profit. Yes, there are people working on all types of things that may indeed be counter productive to the future of humanity, but it also might possibly be media’s romance. In effect making a mountain out of a mole hill. We need to be less concerned with the cool idea of artificial intelligence and much more concerned with the criticality of forwarding real human intelligence.

The growing wealth gap is another big stumbling block. The increasing dearth of wealth amongst a growing percentage of the population limits the market. Who is going to buy robotics in any quantity that justifies production? The 1%? Not likely. The military? That hasn’t worked well. In the short span of the 21st Century we have seen America’s current debt balloon. This was driven by the unprecedented cost of technology and the misguided logic that like WWi and WWii, war would continue to drive broad economic gains in the economy. Wrong. A downed $100MM jet fighter today is a different percentage of the overall economic equation than a $51K p51 Mustang was in 1940.

People’s dwindling trust in government and the increasing realization that as societies we really need to address much more than climate adds to the soup. People are tired of greedy self interest in politics, they are waking up, beginning to see through the thin vail and getting into action.

When you put all these things together, I for one, do not see the future of humanity being robotics. It can’t be, for that is not humanity. Instead, I see a future in which more people learn, and act out Being human.

Notes:

[1] Harvard, the State of Critical Thinking.

[2] Population Media Center ( populationmedia.org )

[3] People Over Profit ( peopleoverprofit.com )

[4] Global Wealth Inequality via: ( therules.org )

[5] EETimes and MIT on the rising cost of technology.

[6] Pew Research and Edelman on trust.

[7] United Nations Messenger of Peace, Leonardo DiCaprio on climate.

[8] HBR, Technology & Social Skills — Deming, Social Skills & Labor

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If you, your business, or a business you have invested in is stuck, and you can admit it, we should talk.

I would be honored to hear from you! — David

My background is business. My history as a strategist includes: three successful exits, two successful turn arounds, lots of failures and the adoption of an $800MM county bond measure.

My education has been appropriation by desire. I never graduated from college, but I believe in and practice continuous learning. I study and apply the disciplines of biology, linguistics, human behavior, effective action and a variety of other subjects in my work with business leaders.

I help companies get unstuck. I consult with and facilitate the mobilization of business owners, executives and management teams in the areas of strategy, implementation, innovation, human dynamics and coordination waste.

The foundation for my own success and the thinking behind much of what I practice, teach, talk about and write comes from the works of Dr. Fernando Flores and his colleague Chauncey Bell.

*All views expressed are my own, and should not be interpreted as being shared or endorsed by persons or companies mentioned.*

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