People are predicting that technological forces will take jobs away from humans, extending the gap between the rich and the poor and change society as we know it forever. Flashing from the headlines, echoing from the desks of news anchors and bantered about at water coolers, the subject focuses on a possible future condition rather than looking at the current mechanics driving that potential future state.
The one constant is that the world is always changing. I am getting older with each letter that begins as a signal in my brain ending as a manifestation of ones-and-zeros on my computer screen. In fact, I’m not even the same person I was when I wrote the previous sentence. We are capable of change because we are ever-changing. According to ORNL, every atom in our body changes, or at least 98% of them do every year. It is our nature to change, so why do we resist it? Decisions and experiences become imprinted onto a biological circuit board as a rigid set of beliefs, which can be tough to convince of the potential residing in any new information.
If we really believe technology will replace a large part of the workforce, shouldn’t we look at how that workforce develops over time and how the individuals within that workforce learn? Are we learning things that will prepare us for the future we are predicting? Computers are pretty incredible. They (thanks to Alan Turing) cracked the communication code that led to victory for the Allied Forces, they allow me to manipulate sounds today that would have seemed impossible to Pierre Schaeffer, and they simulate biological sequences and scenarios that hope to find cures to terrible diseases. They also distract us to no end with gadgets, apps, platforms and messages that leave us questioning if we ever actually do anything meaningful with our time during the day. These distractions consume the time and energy we could be dedicating to developing the skills that make us different from machines.
What if we focused on what we do best and lean into that?
We craft beautifully moving poetry that cuts through the noise and captures our hearts. We write symphonies that wrap us with the vibration of sound that can transport us to other worlds. We can connect elements of physics, biology and nature to build and refine our understanding of the physical world. We generate the deepest questions while looking at the sky to confidently assert that our solar system doesn’t revolve around the Earth. Einstein’s initial spark came from wondering what it would be like to ride a wave of light. We are creative thinkers who move toward difficult things driven by our passion and curiosity. We get there by reading Plato not by watching the news. We feed this energy by patiently writing to understand ourselves. We move with things as we navigate our adventures with enough vigor to avoid a linear path through life. We make time for important things and remove things that spill the vibrancy of our energy stores. As hard as we work, we also spend time doing nothing. We sit in silent peace and listen to our nature. We slow down so we can speed up. We work on projects without the expectation for something in return. We ask great questions. We chase down answers only to generate more questions. We embrace the magic of crazy ideas. We believe in those things we cannot process with our senses. We help someone that needs it. We keep smiling and embrace the journey of small steps that lead to big things.
Find a piece of technology that can do all of that …