progress

People Drive Progress And Disruption, Not Technology

How Do You Progress? Keep Moving Forward, No Matter What

Recently, we’ve been running several foresight exercises to consider the future of certain technologies more than ten years out, and I must say that it is a very interesting and, in my opinion, optimistic future that we are seeing. We are seeing a future where technology can do what it has not been able to do very easily over the last few years, and that is, make us better humans.

In the future, and I’ve talked about this at length in some of my discussions and previous posts on a “Seamless World,” we will be able to tell the systems around us to set goals for ourselves (and hopefully, those goals are to become better to ourselves and other humans) and then the world will be able to reconfigure itself to assist us with our goals.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, much of the way we are and the way we think are tied to the environment and the people we spend time with, in addition to our internal mindset. However, while we are in these environments, we may wish to change our behaviors (lose weight, get more fit, meet new people, sell more products), without expressly forcing a change in our environments.

We are soon approaching a future where we simply state a goal that we wish to reach to our nearest and most trusted virtual assistant, or chatbot, be it Amazon Echo, Google Home or Siri, and once we have confirmed that goal – the world conspires, or more accurately, guides us to the goals that we wish to attain.

For example, let’s say that I’d like to lose 20 pounds. I tell my assistant:

CK: ”Alexa, I’d like to lose 20 pounds.”

AA: “Great, over what period?”

CK: “Hmm, I’ll say 6 months.”

AA: “That’s doable. Please confirm that….”

CK: “Confirmed”

AA: “OK, I can help you with that.”

The command goes out to the seamless world to reconfigure everything around my life to help me to reach my goal. Every system that you deal with for that point on will automatically work to assist you in getting to that goal.

  • If you try to use Echo to order a pizza, it might argue with you, refuse, or order a salad instead without telling you. (This is possible today)
  • Your autonomous vehicle will drop you off two miles from your meeting early enough to get you there on time if you walked (This could work today if the destination address sent to your Uber were sent by your chatbot)
  • The elevators of the building that you walk into will not open. A second later, your phone buzzes, and there is a text there that tells you to “take the stairs” (OK, maybe not today, but tomorrow…)

In short, the entire world around you will finally be intelligent enough to guide you to your goals. Your environment will modify itself to help you reach your goals.

What’s interesting to me is that all of the technology to make this happen today is already here. The problem is not the technology. If you ask me, the technology to do almost anything is here today.

I firmly believe that technology can make all things possible and that it is people who decide which things are made possible and when they are to be made possible.

Personally, I would be the first adopter of systems like the above. I would love for the world to help me to be a better, more fit, healthier human. It’s better for me and everyone around me.

At the same time, plenty of detractors don’t want the world to help them. Maybe they have amazing willpower (they typically don’t), or they don’t need guidance (they typically do).

We could all stand to improve as humans.

The problem is not the technology. The technology is available for all of this to occur. The technology is available for us to build systems where we provide our chatbot with a directive, and then everything behind that directive, like the world around us will help us get to that goal.

But there are people standing in the way. What are those old jokes again?

  • Teacher: “School would be great if it weren’t for the students.”
  • Employee: “Work would be great if it weren’t for my co-workers.”
  • Jean-Paul Sartre: “Hell is other people.”

For every move forward progress-wise, there is an equal or stronger pushback. I call this the war between the ShouldWes (those who push back against technology before they even know that it is possible) and the DoIts (those who move forward regardless to push the envelope and progress forward)

For example, look at automation taking away jobs. We already have ShouldWes talking about things like Universal Basic Income being a requirement when jobs are lost due to automation instead of thinking about how to create jobs for humans, which is something the DoIts would do.

The reality is that we could have an amazing utopian future vision of the world today if it weren’t for the ShouldWes holding us back. It’s people who retard progress, and it’s people who make it happen.

The question is: how do we move forward into this better, more optimistic future? How do we convince the ShouldWes that we should move forward? Well, we can either spend a very long time attempting to convince the ShouldWes that we should, or we can take a page out of many previous innovators’ books, like Orville and Wilbur Wright, John Walson, Frank Whittle, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Travis Kalanick, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, and just do it.

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