The Impact of Technology
A MENTAL Revolution
Trend Paper by Jeppe Kleyngeld
How to succeed in an age of exponential technologies? This text was originally prepared as presentation for economics students at the Association of Economics Students Nijmegen (EVS), the Netherlands. The goal of author/presenter Jeppe Kleyngeld - in daily life editor at several Dutch journals and websites in business economics (FinancieelManagement.nl, CFO.nl, AccountantWeek.nl) was to give students an overview of current technological trends and its possible implications on the economy, job market and society at large. This Trend Paper has the same purpose. (Parts of) this publication may be reproduced for educational purposes with written consent from the author. Requests may be send to: email@example.com
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Introduction Imagine for a minute that in 30 years, we - humankind - have succeeded in creating super intelligence. A single AI-brain that the inventors have called Sophia, meaning wisdom in Greek. At the moment AI is still narrowly focused. It is extremely good in specific tasks like playing chess or comparing photos, but does not yet have broad intelligence. It is not even close to passing a Turing-test which would mean it would possess human like intelligence. For Sophia, passing a Turing test is a piece of silicon. With her super brain, she can process information a million times faster than humans can. So pretty soon, Sophia is much more intelligent than all the humans on the planet combined. Off course, intelligence has a different meaning for machines than for living beings. Sophia may have all the answers, but she doesnâ€™t really know anything. Who would be in charge of this super intelligence? Luckily, she isnâ€™t the property of some tech-giant like Google, IBM or - god forbid - Facebook- who would probably use it only for their own benefit. With super AI, a tech company would soon be market leader in any industry, and thus become fearfully powerful. No, we future humans are very fortunate: Sophia is the property of the world united. The best computer-scientists from all over the planet have collaborated to create this technological marvel. She is therefore governed by a committee consisting of 2.000 representatives from all the countries of the world. And these representatives could ask Sophia questions. Question about the biggest problems of mankind: How can we solve poverty, war, unemployment and inequality? How can we save the environment? And after we have solved these urgent problems, how can we colonize space? Sophia would answer: First give me all the data of the world. It would then take her about a week to absorb all the data from the planet: the entire Wikipedia. Government reports. Entire libraries. Key economic data from every country and every company. She would learn our entire history and everything there is to know about science, healthcare, history, technology and economics. And then she would answer: This is what you should do. She will give us an entire blueprint of how we should allocate and invest all our resources. Not just for every nation, but for the whole planet in unity. And she would project that - if every country participates - it would lead to incredible results. Every human and animal would see an enormous increase in wealth and wellbeing - and our environment would be saved. There would be no more war and no more avoidable suffering. How does this sound? A good scenario? I like to think so. There is also the other scenario where super AI is created, escapes from the laboratory using the internet, and then creates a virus or a nuclear factory and wipes out the entire human race in a single blow. But let us stay optimistic... Technology offers us the opportunity to create a sustainable economy with abundance for everybody. How to realize this idealistic future?
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A MENTAL Revolution Why MENTAL? To realize the potential of technological progress, we ourselves - as humans - must undergo a massive mental change. Our beliefs and attitudes will ultimately determine whether this technological revolution will be beneficial to mankind or destructive. The wrong way of thinking will lead to the wrong type of new economy. What good is technology without great minds to operate it? You give a quantum computer to a monkey, what will he do with it? Try to eat it? Throw with it perhaps… (not that I am saying monkey’s don’t have great minds, but in a different way). In hands of lesser human minds, technology can be disastrous. The atomic bomb was an extremely impressive technological invention; see how that turned out. In other words, the value is not in technology itself, but in our ability to use it in a way that benefits humanity as a whole. I have to start with a little disclaimer. Technology is often overhyped. Where are the flying cars that were promised to us decades ago? The same thing applies to the scenario of super intelligence. This may happen in decades, or in hundreds of years, or never. AI-experts don’t agree on this. So what will the impact of technology be? What almost everybody agrees on is this: the coming decades, the world will change way faster and far more radically than ever before in history. And technology is a key factor in this. It is not the only factor: the rise of emerging markets and the exponential growth of the world population are two others, but there is little doubt that technology will have enormous effects. This e-book consists of two parts: The first part deals with what is happening in technology right now and how this will impact the economy. Part 2 is about the mental model that we need to deal with all this change.
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1. Whatâ€™s Going On? It is a very exciting time to be alive. Everything will be different. Technology has had an enormous impact on the world before. Think of the Industrial Revolution; the ability of humans to use steam power meant we were no longer dependent on just our muscle power. So, we moved to the area of mass production. This revolution changed the world more than all previous revolutions. But compared to what is happening now, its impact is peanuts, according to the authors of The Second Machine Age. The first technological revolution was a physical one. This time it is a cognitive revolution. Machines will help us think and make decisions. And ultimately transform the world beyond recognition.
Computers are already outperforming humans in many tasks in various industries. The fast food industry can now buy hamburger machines that can produce 360 hamburgers an hour, including bun, lettuce, onions, cheese and ketchup.
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In the media industry, companies can buy software that can produce news-articles on sports and financial markets. In the financial sector, algorithms already make most of the trades nowadays, not humans. AI is getting better at games as well. It started with chess. Then followed the spectacular victory of IBMâ€™s Watson in the gameshow Jeopardy. After that, DeepMindâ€™s Go-playing AI learned superhuman skills by playing itself over and over. Finally, an algorithm developed by Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania defeated the world champion poker. Yes, AI is the best bluffer of the planet.
Engineers from that same university are now working on a robotic soccer team. They aim to make their team world champion by 2050. Due to the exponential nature of technology, I think they might get there a whole lot sooner.
AI has also written the first movie script and composed classical music that experts can no longer distinguish from music made by human composers. So creativity is not uniquely human anymore. Smart machines will continue to learn new skills. And eventually they will be better in almost every conceivable field. The Impact of Technology: A MENTAL Revolution_________________________________4
Because of this trend, every industry will be severely disrupted. Most companies will not survive this revolution. The latest estimate by McKinsey is that two out of three companies will not adopt fast enough and go bankrupt. This is not very speculative, it is happening already. Just look at the banks and the massive layoffs there. That is just the beginning. The main driver behind this trend is Mooreâ€™s Law. This law was established in 1965 by Gordon Moore (founder of chipmaker Intel). The law predicted a doubling in computer power roughly every two years while the cost of chips go down simultaneously. Now 50 years later, this law is still in effect although a little slower. The implication of this law is often underestimated. A doubling every 18 months means that the numbers at first are overseeable, from 2 to 4 to 8 to 16 to 32 to 64 and so on, but pretty soon the numbers become really bizarre. First millions, than billions, than trillions, and finally a number that we canâ€™t even pronounce. The result is that in 2012 you could buy an iPhone 5 that was 1270 times faster than the computer that put the first spacecraft on the moon in 1969. And it also had 250.000 times more processing memory and two million times more data storage. Right now, we have entered exponential territory.
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What this means is that we are entering an age of radical innovation. Companies can buy spectacular technologies for a very small investment and they can use these technologies to create new innovations. So we can expect specular inventions to arrive in the coming years and decades. Think of chips in the brain that enable the blind to see. Machines that can be controlled by our thoughts. Devices that can translate our speech in any language of the world. And even brain scanners that can record our thoughts and dreams. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Letâ€™s have a quick look at the exponential technologies we will be encountering (soon).
Blockchain is mostly known for Bitcoin, but that is just one application. Blockchain is a technology that will change the way trust in the society is organized. Currently, if you do business with anybody, you need a trusted third party, like a lawyer, banker, broker or an accountant. Exactly the experts no one trusts anymore after countless scandals. Blockchain is programmed trust. All you need is a smart contract, and when both parties sign it, it goes into the blockchain and trust is assured. Blockchain is a revolution that will change the way businesses and individuals do business. As for bitcoin, right now, it is way too volatile to become a reliable currency, but it can still happen. I would not rule out the idea. It just might take a very long time to become more stable. Decades. And when it does, it could completely change our system of money.
3D-printing will change the world of production and logistics. Right now, most products are mass produced because otherwise the costs run too high. With 3D-printers, you can create unique products without additional costs. The speed of manufacturing will increase The Impact of Technology: A MENTAL Revolution_________________________________6
dramatically. For designers, 3D-printing means more jobs. In manufacturing and in construction - where 3D-printers can be used to construct houses - it will most likely mean less employment. The effect on strict economic indicators like GDP will most likely be bad. The great ports might lose half their business if not more. Same goes for logistic companies. But when we consider the environment and congestion, the effects might be very positive.
Autonomous cars are already far better drivers than humans despite one casualty earlier in 2018. Its development will have huge impact on the job market. Think of all the jobs that involve driving. Car ownership will start to decrease, first slowly and then super-fast. Why would you want to own a car, if you have an app that can get you an autonomous car any time, any place? Well, some people still like driving. If you do, I have some bad news for you. Humans cause more than a million traffic deaths per year - 85.000 in Europe. Selfdriving cars can do better. Much better. Driving will eventually be outbanned just like smoking. It will probably become a kind of risky sport, which you can do only in special areas. The impact on the job market of this transition will be huge.
Robotics & Automation
Amazon opened a store recently where buying feels like stealing. You walk in, fill up your shopping cart and you walk out without paying. There’s no need; they know who you are and what you bought. Don’t worry, they WILL charge your creditcard. This is just the beginning of massive automation. The whole world will be automated and robotized. Smart machines and robots will continue to take over most of the simple, repetitive tasks from humans. By 2050, we won’t have to do a lot anymore. With our voices we can command devices all around us The Impact of Technology: A MENTAL Revolution_________________________________7
to carry out our manual tasks. Also, virtual and augmented reality will look so real, that we’ll have a hard time deciding what in our environment is really there or just a digital projection. That means that we can basically visit any event in the world from our own living room. Off course, sometimes we will want the real thing, but the possibilities to attend happenings will increase by a trillion percent.
Big Data Analytics
Big Data, I think, is in the short term the biggest business and career opportunity for business/economy students entering the job market. They often say that Big Data is like the new oil. And this is true in a sense because it is the fuel for companies to gain insights and create customer value. Every large company is working on big data, because they know that if they don’t find the hidden insights first, their competitors will. In this phase, many companies are still struggling to find insights, so they need smart young people that are data-savvy. If you are a mathematical genius - a quant - than the companies will want to hire you as a data analyst. But if you’re not really into mathematics and statistics and more interested in finance and entrepreneurship, than big data is also an opportunity. For example, if you have good communication skills you can be the translator between what the company needs and what the data scientist can find. And if you are an entrepreneur, you can use data to create new business models. Big Data is perhaps not the right term, because it is not about the size, but about what you can do with it. Smart Data might therefore be a better name. Smart Data can be used for a number of things. It can be used to make better informed decision, to improve processes this is called process mining - and it can be used to create customer value. In the coming years / decades we are going to connect the whole world. There will be connections between cities, forests, cars, computers, refrigerators, hearts and brains. This is known as the internet of everything. And it is happening fast. We will all be part of a gigantic network, uploading data and basing all our decisions on what ‘IT’ prescribes. This network will offer us incredible possibilities. Technology no longer has any limitations. It is our own creativity that will be the limit. The Impact of Technology: A MENTAL Revolution_________________________________8
Biotechnology & Bioengineering
Biotechnology, along with artificial intelligence which we already discussed in the introduction, is the technology that will probably have the biggest impact on society. We are going to upgrade ourselves through genetic engineering, through nanotechnology - little robots in our body that can find mutations - and brain computer interfaces. Right now, the first blind people got chips in their brains that can help them to see. At the moment not so much, but this is increasing. And while we are already fixing their eyesight, why not add microscopic vision and hyperzoom lens? Genetic engineering is making massive progress. The ability to edit DNA like it is computer code, a technique known as CRISPR, is now a reality. The first child with three parents is already born. An embryo contained a heritable disease, which scientists replaced with a piece of DNA from a third parent that did not contain the disease. In this case, this was a good thing off course, but now Pandoraâ€™s box is wide open. Why not make your child the most beautiful and intelligent combination that is possible with your DNA? We now have the God-like ability to take over evolution from nature. Natural selection becomes unnatural selection. We decide what creatures will roam the earth. The possibility is very real that the generation now growing up will have to make a choice to have a natural child or a designer baby. Related to biotechnology is the trend of longevity: trying to increase life expectancy and even trying to become immortal. Google has a company whose mission it is to overcome death. Is it biologically possible to live much longer? Probably; there is a type of jellyfish that can alter the state of its cells, so it is basically immortal unless it is eaten by a another fish or killed in some other way. Can we copy this ability? No idea, but in the near future the billionaires of this world are going to find out. I think to even attempt becoming immortal is morally very wrong. We humans have the obligation to die in order to make room for the next generation. As you can see, biotechnology has massive ethical implications, and so it is very important to decide how weâ€™re going to handle it. This is way too important to leave to just scientists and billionaires. Philosophers, politicians and medical doctors must join the discussion. And economists will have to become involved as well. If skills and abilities will be for sale in the near future, how do we prevent our race from splitting in two: Homo Sapiens and the superior Homo Deus? How can you have a fair labor market when the potential of humans can differ so dramatically? Compared to the superior Homo Deus, we will be like complete incompetents. We have the technology, but we donâ€™t have the playbook yet. How will we handle it?
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2. The MENTAL-model I hope that by now, you have an idea of the scope of what is coming. Because it is going so fast, we won’t have much time to adapt to it. That doesn’t mean we should rush. It means we should use our heads and think before we act. To try and get some control in this time of complexity, the MENTAL-model of technology might be useful. This model consists of six important themes that we have to pay attention to in order to succeed together in this era of exponential technologies.
Let’s run them by...
Meaning What is the goal of companies? Hint; it is not making money. Money is just an accounting system and a means to get things done. When somebody says that companies exist to make money, you can reply; you are a robot, because robots cannot understand meaning, and it is doubtful that they ever will. What we humans and other animals possess is consciousness: subjective experience. Why we have these subjective experiences is still very mysterious, but according to a growing number of leading scientists, it is not computable. Take Jarvis, Iron Man’s personal AI. He understands Tony Stark’s jokes and has dry British humor himself. But does he really The Impact of Technology: A MENTAL Revolution________________________________10
understand the jokes, or is he just cleverly combining phrases and expressions he finds in massive amounts of data? According to many AI-researchers, it is the later. Jarvis may be much more intelligent than Tony Stark, but he is not conscious. Therefore, he remains the assistant and Tony is the one who makes the decisions.
Understanding meaning in business and society remains exclusively the domain of humans, not machines. The risk of super intelligent AI is therefore not that it becomes conscious, but that its goals do not align with ours. So, we have to make sure that they do. Understanding meaning is crucial for companies that want to be successful in the coming future. Right now, most companies are stuck in the growth-trap: all that counts is shareholdervalue. We need a new paradigm. Growth and financial return are not all that is important. The companies that you will start or work for will need a triple skyline to replace the single bottom line. Besides financial return, you also need to have a positive impact on environment and society. Therefore, you need a distinctive purpose. How are you making the lives of people better? What gives your company the right to exist? There are many new economic models - like Economy for the Common Good - that are trying to get the triple skyline obligatory for all companies in the European Union. This might take a while, but eventually it will happen. So we have to start thinking far beyond money in business and economics.
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Equality A challenge technology is posing is that it can create more inequality, and inequality hurts both democracy and economy. Inequality is already rising. 42 billionaires now control as much wealth as the 3.7 billion who make up the poorest half of the worldâ€™s population. Especially in the United States, this is the worst time ever when it comes to inequality. That is not only because of technology. In America, big corporations control politics which leads to policies that make the rich richer and the rest of the country pourer. America is basically a plutocracy; a country ruled by the wealthy elite. Technology can make the situation even worse. Most routine tasks will be automated. And with the rise of artificial intelligence, knowledge work is no longer safe. Technology leads to higher productivity, but the lion-share of increased profits lands into the pockets of capital owners making them richer and richer. Martin Ford researched inequality for his book Rise of the Robots and looking at a large number of economic trends he concludes that if things donâ€™t change, we will witness a rapid increase in inequality and a much lower disposable income for the normal middle class worker. What does that mean for the economy? Robots donâ€™t consume. Ford think we are risking the worst recession the world has ever seen.
How to respond to this threat? First, we should recognize that it is probably not justified that only capital owners profit from technological progress. It is our collective labor, tax money, and investment money from retirement funds that went into the research and development of technological innovation. The development of the internet was paid for by governments. Therefore, the whole society should profit. If we all agree on that, I have three suggestions on what we could do. The first one is still politics. We have to fight inequality through policies. If capital owners The Impact of Technology: A MENTAL Revolution________________________________12
profit too much, policies have to correct that. For example by changing the tax system to lower taxes on income and higher taxes on capital (not on investments in innovation!) and consumption with high environmental impact. Luckily in Europe, we still have politics and business pretty separate, so we have this possibility. In the USA itâ€™s going to be more difficult. Technology leads to winner takes all scenarios. How many search engines do you know? The most searched word on Bing is still Google. Technology will know many losers, people who did not adapt well to this new era. Tax the few winners to help the many many losers sounds like a fair deal for society. We also need policies to take on the Frightening Five: Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon. Technology leads to monopolies because of the winner takes all effect. What to do about these tech giants getting too powerful?
Technology leads to winner takes all effects Big Data Guru Viktor Mayer-Schonberger recently proposed the Progressive Data Sharing Mandate. Companies that achieve a certain market share should be obligated to share more data to others. The bigger you get, the more data you have to share. That way start-ups and other companies can use this data to create new business models. We need a competitive market. Right now, we are way too dependent on the tech giants. We give them our data for free and they get rich, while we get funny cat videos. The second solution is taking basic income as a very serious option for the future. Many tech CEOs, like Elon Musk, also thinks we will need this. It makes sense. All you have to do it is implement is in the right way as a negative income tax. As soon as you fall below a certain income, you immediately gets this covered without any exception. Every citizen gets it. No questions asked. There is evidence that a system of negative income tax leads to: - More entrepreneurship; - Better functioning free markets; The Impact of Technology: A MENTAL Revolution________________________________13
More wealth creation; Higher well being; Less government bureaucracy.
The third solution for battling inequality is helping the right companies succeed through your spending. Spending is the same as voting. If you think a company doesn’t deserve to exist because they only think about making profits, but to don’t do nothing for society in return, than don’t spend your money there. No company can exist without customers, so we still have that power to oblige companies to do the right thing.
In a world that is getting more and more artificial, we risk losing our connection with nature which is fatal. As we all know by now, the contemporary world is economically, socially, and ecologically unsustainable. We have to redesign the economy in natural cycles. The question is not ‘if’, but ‘how fast’? How fast can we do it? Currently, we are wasting an incredible amount of resources. For example, did you know that a car uses 99% of its energy to move itself and only one percent on moving passengers and driver? Such numbers are scandalous in a world approaching the depletion of its natural resources, and to which the Chinese are adding 14.000 cars every day. Nature does a much better job; it runs on solar and wind power, and produces zero waste. Nature is therefore a source of inspiration to redesign the economy in its image. All our inventions have already appeared in nature in a much more elegant form and at a lot lower cost for the planet. Therefore, every one of us individuals and every company we work for has a challenge: to reduce waste to zero the coming decades. The problem, it seems, it that although we are concerned for the environment, we don’t want to change our consumption patterns too much. We are still driving, flying and eating meat. Most companies have only one concern, and that is making enough revenue and profit. So, although technology can help us save the The Impact of Technology: A MENTAL Revolution________________________________14
environment, will it happen on time? Where are we headed? A technological utopia or dystopian nightmare? Nobody knows the future, but we can do some scenario planning, a useful tool that get some grip on a future of uncertainty. Let’s look at four scenarios for the future: A. Humans will change their behavior and save the planet. B. Technological progress will save us. C. We will be too late with our technological progress to avert disaster, and the planet will suffer great damage. D. The human race won’t survive for another century. I don’t think any one of these scenarios will come true entirely, but probably a combination of A, B and C. Not D hopefully. We will solve our crises, but probably not before we see a lot of disasters happening to the planet and its life. That means we have to mentally prepare for this. How will we respond if we get a million refugees from Sri Lanka because their country has become inhabitable? Will we reorganize our society to fit them all in or kill them before they ever reach our shores? If we are prepared for these disaster scenarios, we will respond the wisest.
Time The themes we discussed so far are for the collective good. This one is for students and how they can succeed in their careers. The letter ‘T’ first stood for talent first, but I changed that to time. You see, talent is overrated. It helps off course, but by itself it is not enough to become successful. It’s about what you do with it. Time is probably the most important resource you have, because you can use it to develop skills. We don’t know if there will be enough jobs left after robots and AI will be employed everywhere. But if you develop special skills in a profession that you feel passionate about, you will have a much better chance of staying employed or starting a successful business yourself. Angela Duckworth researched success for her influential book ‘Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverance. After ten years of research, she came up with a formula that is the most likely to lead you to success. The Impact of Technology: A MENTAL Revolution________________________________15
The formula is as follows: Talent X Effort = Skill Skill X Effort = Achievement Notice that effort counts twice. It is crucial that you discover your real passion, because it will then be easy to devote time to it to practice. For every skills you practice, you will create new neural pathways in your brains and make existing ones stronger. Should you focus on learning one skill? No, because you are no match against specialized algorithms. You should learn many skills, and especially human skills are very important, like: communication, listening, empathy, leadership, conflict resolution, et cetera. These are not computable.
What you also need is perseverance. When things go wrong donâ€™t give up. Every mistake or disappointment is an opportunity to learn. To become really good at something, you will have to practice 10.000 hours. That is about eight years of full time practice. So you better find something you really like doing, and it's even better when there is a market for it.
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Abundance is a book by space entrepreneur Peter Diamandis. The economy used to be about managing scarcity. In this age, it is about managing abundance. Everything that is digitized becomes abundant. For example, we used to have devices for everything. Now we just have a smartphone with photo camera, video camera, compass, flash light, internet browser, videogames console, video-editor, music player, iBook reader, navigation device, alarm clock, and god knows how many apps. That is abundance.
But not everything can be digitized, can it? What about food, houses or energy? Well, that is only partly true. You see, energy can become abundant as well. There is over five thousand times more solar energy falling on the earth's surface than we can use in a year. It is not an issue of scarcity, itâ€™s an issue of accessibility. Once we can capture that energy and store it in batteries, energy can become completely free. The Impact of Technology: A MENTAL Revolution________________________________17
What to do with all this energy? Well, save the environment for one thing. But another idea is this. In Africa there is a water shortage. There are already machines that can turn saltwater into fresh drinking water. The only problem is that at the moment, this costs a great amount of energy. But if we have abundant energy, we can create as much fresh water as we like. We can turn desserts into entire green oases. By the way, which country owns 75 percent of the worldâ€™s solar production? China. That country is smart because the people can think long term. This is a major opportunity. The West can learn a lot from China. What about abundance in food? Nanotechnology can manipulate things at the molecular level and turn any molecule into something completely else. Turning shit into a delicious hamburger is theoretically possible. But this is still pretty theoretical. A more practical solution for now is vertical farming. It takes 150 skyscrapers to feed the entire city of New York. How many farmland do you think it costs? How many acres of Amazon rainforest we have to destroy to feed an entire city like New York? A very scary, large amount. Conclusion; scarcity is often the problem of accessibility. Through the eyes of technology, we can get the resources we need. Abundance is a mindset that weâ€™re not used to. It is a new way of thinking for the century to come. Peter Diamandis is currently involved in Planetary Resources, a private company in asteroid mining. His mission is to fly spacecrafts to asteroids near earth and mine their resources, like precious metals. Some asteroids contain more gold than the entire gold supply on earth, so one successful mission into space and he would completely disrupt the entire financial system. Ten years ago even, this would have sounded like a crazy idea, but now it doesnâ€™t seem impossible at all.
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Learning Finally, to succeed as a business and a professional, learning and agility - the ability to adapt to change - are crucial. In earlier times when change went relatively slow, most workers just had to have one specialization. If they learned a few skills very well, they could last an entire career. Not anymore. Workers from the generation now entering the labor market will have to learn new skills throughout their entire careers. We all have to prepare for a lifetime of learning. The biggest mistake we can make is thinking we understand the world. We don’t. We are suckers, and that’s okay. We have to acknowledge this in every decision we make. Today I make this decision based on the information I have, but tomorrow I might learn something new that will lead me to another decision. We should not get stuck in a certain way of thinking, because then we’ll get dogma’s and we won’t progress anymore. Same thing for companies, in the past an annual budget cycle worked relatively well. The Management Team went to an expensive hotel once a year to talk about strategy and decide where to put their company’s resources in. And what return they could reasonably expect. This practice doesn’t work anymore, because the outside world changes constantly. Tomorrow a digital competitor could appear out of the blue and start disrupting your business, so you have to be ready to adopt to these changes immediately. Don’t invest in big assets, that you can only use for one purpose. Agility means that you have options and can move at great speed. What companies need is a culture of learning. Smaller companies are better at this, so growing too big can be a serious disadvantage. Splitting up in smaller units might then become your best strategic choice.
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Conclusion In conclusion, the impact of technology clearly has two sides. If we want it to be beneficial, we have to have discussions about it all the time. Because the benefits won’t arrive completely by themselves. We need to develop our minds. Philosopher of religion Alan Watts already said it more than fifty years ago: “We have stronger means than changing the physical universe than ever before. How are we going to use it? There is a Chinese proverb that if the wrong man uses the right means, the right means work in the wrong way. Let us assume that our technological knowledge is the right means. What kind of people are gonna use this knowledge? Are they gonna be people who hate nature and feel alienated from it, or people who love the physical world and feel that the physical world is their own personal body? By extension, the entire physical universe is simply an extension from one owns physical body. The general attitude of the technologists who are exploring space is represented in the term ‘the conquest of space’. They are building enormous shell like objects to go into the sky. And this is downright ridiculous, because who is going to get anywhere in a rocket? It takes a terrible long time to even get to the moon. And it’s gonna take longer than anybody can live to get out of the solar system, just to begin with. A proper way to study space is not with rockets, but radio astronomy. Become more sensitive. Develop subtler senses, that is radio astronomy. And everything will come to you. Be more open. Be more receptive. And eventually you will develop an instrument that will examine a piece of rock on Mars with greater care than you could if you were holding it in your own hand.” So there’s what we need to do: opening our minds. This is also how Sophia succeeded - the super intelligent AI from the opening of this book. By thinking as broadly as possible, integrating all knowledge. Thinking incredibly narrowly, like we have done in the past century, is a major risk. We should not only think about profit alone, but also about the environment and society as a whole. We should not be focused on growth alone, but on value creation for everybody. Not only on competing, but on collaborating also. In short, we should focus on the whole picture and don’t ignore parts anymore like we did before. What needs to succeed is the entire ecosystem: employees, suppliers, customers, contractors, the community and the environment. Overall, I am optimistic. We have the opportunity to create a planet that is more unified than ever and can bring more wealth and happiness for everybody. The impact of technology can become a very positive story as long as we keep using our heads and don’t turn into a bunch of zombies. Value is not found in technology itself, but in our ability to use it smartly. If we do that, I think we can move into the next phase of evolution. I think we can do it. So, let’s do it.
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This text was originally prepared as presentation for economics students at the Association of Economics Students Nijmegen (EVS), the Nether...
Published on Jul 24, 2018
This text was originally prepared as presentation for economics students at the Association of Economics Students Nijmegen (EVS), the Nether...