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Death of a Notion, Human or Machine

I have witnessed the death of broadcast television. Long ago television was a credible form of journalism simply reporting the news and not making it. We have moved far beyond the antiquated ideology in this century of enlightenment. We now have cable, internet, streaming, webcasts, competing for our attention. It has been decided in some astute marketing executive that in order to make our access to advertisements briefly interrupted by programming more fulfilling we need to have 4K high definition television. No more high definition car commercials telling us that tens of thousands of dollars is a reasonable price for a vehicle designed to last seven years.

Please do not misunderstand, I am a dutiful consumer so I made the switch, the box, the paper thin television, the intuitive remote control, the works, I got them. But instead of moving forward to a utopian world of high definition I seemed to have shuffled backward to a kaleidoscope universe. Clicking through stacks upon stacks of choices like some artificial “un-intelligence” flipping through the pages of distraction.

Like it or not, these technologies are changing the entire human to machine dynamic. Machines can become more human like, but humans can’t become machines. The normal life cycle of workers has been to consume a lifetime worth of preparation in the first few years of life and for the rest of the time draw down on that depositary. This traditional model is fast becoming irrelevant in an age of technological omnipotence. To avoid becoming irrelevant it has become necessary for humans to focus on learning new skills in new arenas. This is creating a massive need for retooling of existing human workers.

Humans must also train their minds to remain focused in a society which is constantly getting bombarded with information at a frantic pace. The two basic human starting points of physical and mental capacity are slowly being taken away by machines and artificial intelligence. Things that have given comfort and stability for generations are changing and that is driving how we work and the work environment.

The Myth of Depth – Mark Tansey

It is convenient to believe that we are the masters of our technology. However, in today’s world, there are algorithms and technologies telling us what to read, what to eat, what to wear, what to do. The massive changes to our society dictate that humans must adjust rapidly and continually until the human/machine co-evolutionary relationships stabilize. With previous technology, man has had decades, generations, or a lifetimes to adjust but now we have less and less time. We are co-evolving with these technologies and sometimes it's hard to say if we are the masters or the slaves.

The key must be in our thinking. Leaders and workers must learn, master, connect, and pivot. Learning enables staying relevant. It is learning by doing and not learning by reading. Reading about artificial intelligence until you think it is understood provides only an abstract view. To really learn about AI it needs to be dabbled in, messed around with, and chopped up and reassembled to understand and shape individual intuition.

People must master themselves. They need to identify themselves and know their spiritual, emotional and physical centre. This involves mastery of the art of telling their own story and the art of changing that story as times and environments evolve. Initial learning is in the head but acting on that knowledge sometimes requires that the head get out of the way and allow intuition, heart, and sometimes body to take charge.

The next skill in remaining relevant is the mastery of relationships. This is really about learning inclusive empathy. This does not come simply from words but involves the time and energy to create a transparent, secure, comfortable, and interactive relationship. A person’s ability to think clearly about learning and mastery of themselves, their abilities, and relationships result in a connective state. Knowing yourself allows you to know others.

Finally, the ability to pivot embodies the idea and recognition that things will change. To be valued and viable workers must lean into the change and not resist it. It involves the process of embracing change by making it work for you, by continually updating and learning skills, and telling the new story every time something changes.

The negative dynamics of technology are only present because humans have not learned to live with technology and still retain control of our own story. To do this people have to evolve and allow social systems to sync with new technologies just as they have with technologies since the dawn of mankind.

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