I was born in the 21st century. How does my future look?
On October 11th and 12th, thanks to a sponsorship from Google, I was able to attend the inaugural SingularityU Canada Summit in Toronto. As a student living in the 21st century, many of these emerging technologies play great relevance to my life, both now and in the future. Understanding the possibilities and even experiencing them firsthand are, and will be, important in changing my mindset when facing the future.
What do I mean by changing my mindset?
Well, imagine a pond in which there is one lilypad. You visit the pond each day, but observe that the pond has some curious properties — number one, that the number of lilypads in the pond doubles each day, and number two, that the lilypads stopped doubling as soon as the entire pond was covered. If there the entire pond was first fully covered on the 24th day, on which day was the pond half covered? Don’t think about it, just answer.
“You are displaying the linear nature of the human brain.”
If you answered day 12, as many do, you are displaying the linear nature of the human brain. The correct answer would be 23, as the doubling of the lilypads means that it would have been 50% full the day before it was 100% full. This is called exponential growth.
Both you and I live in a world with exponential growth. What that means is that technology is developing at a pace similar to that of your peculiar pond — technological potential is doubling each year, in accordance to Moore’s Law. Moore’s Law is an observation made by Gordon Moore: the number of transistors that we can fit in one integrated circuit doubles every 12–18 months.
Think about that. We, as humans, have a linear mindset in an exponential world. The technology we created is moving far more quickly than we humans are! As such, there are a few things we need to do.
“We, as humans, have a linear mindset in an exponential world.”
- Acknowledge that you are thinking linearly, and that the world is exponential. This is incredibly important, as it plays into the way you run your business, lead your team, spend your money, and much more. The sci-fi world is much closer than you think.
- Start unlearning. Adaptability is key when it comes to living in an exponential world; much of what you thought was current is no longer relevant, whether you heard about that technology 20 years ago or 5 years ago. Your adaptability quotient (AQ) is more relevant than your intelligence quotient (IQ) in this day and age — fortunately, it is coachable.
- Start investing in newer technologies, or at least learning about them. Understanding the world around you is important, and most definitely life-changing. After all, nobody wants to be that person sending messages by carrier pigeon while everyone else is using email!
- Trust your technology. Many people have seen movies in which an artificially intelligent robot because sentient and decides to take over the world, while many others believe that AI and robots are more likely to make mistakes than a human. Neither are on the road to becoming true at the moment! AI also has the potential of making additional jobs, rather than taking them away.
- Step up to the challenge. We live in a world of abundance, where we produce about 33% more food than we need. Why, then, do we have people going to bed hungry each night? Because in a world of overabundance, we lack exponential leaders. As David Roberts said: “the greatest golfer in the world has never picked up a club.” Don’t wait for someone else to do it — you are just as capable!
- If you want a truly good idea, get someone outside of your field. It may not seem useful, but having different people with different perspectives pitch in to draft up a good idea is the best way to get the best idea.
“The greatest golfer in the world has never picked up a club.” ~David Roberts
These are just six things I learned at the summit. We also talked about a large variety of other things, such as self-driving cars, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) versus STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math), assumptions, cryptocurrency, democratization of information, and so much more.
So, now what? With all this newfound information and different points of view, what should I be doing or saying?
“The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.” ~Peter Diamandis
Well, for one, I will be taking more time to research and prototype possible technologies for the future. With more information than the world could ever need or want right inside my pocket, I have the capability of doing something truly disruptive. You are capable of it as well, as long as you put the effort in.
So, the question becomes: “Will you?”