Ever feel overwhelmed with the speed of innovation and advancement all around us? You are not alone, and I believe for a reason: In my view, we are currently approaching a huge challenge at 100 miles per hour and no seatbelt on. A challenge that might easily be one of the toughest tests on the speed of human evolution that we have experienced so far: The race between the ongoing development of our capabilities and qualities as human beings, and the intense exponential evolution of technological possibilities.
No matter if you’re a baby boomer, Gen X’er, Millennial or even younger, we live in a world that follows none of the rules we grew up with, no matter what generational tags we’re being labeled with. The new reality of exponential growth in technology disrupts and reshapes new industries every day, and the strides we need to be making as societies in the ways we live, work, think and create are becoming exponentially bigger with it.
But what about the speed at which we are evolving ourselves, as human beings? It feels a little like the famous race between the hare and the tortoise – only that this time the hare might stride right past it at full speed, never to be seen again. Don’t get me wrong. By no means do I feel like I have a firm grip on any of these developments myself. Frankly, I don’t think anyone does. Dreamers and big thinkers like Elon Musk or Richard Branson have been proven to turn bold visions into realities, but as fast as they changed the pace of the world, new thinkers and leaders will take all of this to levels we currently can’t even imagine.
While this might sound scary for some, it is a reality that is irreversible and needs to be met and coupled with an overarching societal approach that triggers the right outcomes. The power that this development holds to change our lives as humans is not to be underestimated. It can easily change the evolution of the human race and the fate of our environment as a whole. Or end it all. For good.
We as humans and societies cannot turn a blind eye to any of these developments much longer, pretending that everything will fall into place by itself. Yet, it seems like we want nothing more, because shockingly, we haven’t been doing very well in face of technological development so far.
Instead of using these new and exciting developments to work on enabling humans to become the best possible version of themselves, we have abused it to turn big parts of our Western societies into victims of ever-streaming newsfeeds, marketing initiatives and the mainstream media. It seems to me that individuals have never been as robotic, conformist and passive as they are today, and while the internet has created an abundance of possibility and potential, our daily habits and lives are governed by a few big companies that have aggregated all the influencer-power amongst few information channels.
The commodities and the ease that technology has brought into our lives had us shut down a lot of our own thinking and contemplation about purpose and a well-lived human life, and in effect, human morals and values seem to be on the decline as fast as never before.
Now, here comes the truly worrisome part, the moment where this all comes together and the tornado hits the volcano: What happens to humanity when we enter the age of the hypothesis commonly called the ‘singularity’? For those of you not familiar with it: It describes a reality where the invention of an artificial intelligence that is more intelligent than us humans will abruptly trigger uncontrollable technological growth through machine self-improvement and create an explosion of hyperintelligent and ever self-improving technology, changing the nature of our planet and human civilization as we know it.
Sounds scary? Well. That’s because it is. The likelihood of this leading to the extinction of the human race has not only found its way into many contemporary movies but has also been discussed by figures as prominent as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk – with not such pretty potential outcomes. While the opinions about when this will happen differ, most of the experts that believe in this hypothesis agree that it will likely happen within the 21st century. Bingo. This means many of us will live to see it. And one thing is clear: We are not ready for this as humans with the current setup that we find ourselves in. And I don’t think I need to begin contrasting the state of our economic and financial systems, governments and the ability of our political leaders to foster positive change into the right direction.
But I believe there’s hope.
The big philosophical question that this development raises is one so fundamental that all the great departments of human knowledge have been struggling with it since the beginning of human consciousness. Science, psychology, philosophy, religion – all of them are trying to tackle the issue from various different angles but are all asking the same question: Who are we? What is a human being? And what are we here for?
One of the developments that have been fascinating for me in the last few years is the speed by which these different schools of knowledge and wisdom are now racing towards common agreement – a wonderful read in this regard being “The Tao of Physics“. Science and religion used to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, the overlap between the wisdom of ancient Eastern religions like Zen Buddhism and the latest findings of quantum physics and neuroscience is astonishing to say the least. Innovative psychological and medical approaches are interlacing with ancient knowledge and practices, and the newest research around both our gut and our heart being equally as intelligent, powerful and influential to the human existence as our brain shows that we have only started to understand the full meaning of what it means to be human.
What we do understand already is that our view on who we are, what we could be and how interconnected our reality is has been tainted by false assumptions, and no matter the scientific or spiritual disciplines we look at, they’re all pointing in the same direction.
If we want to take the next step in our evolution into a new reality where technology can be complimentary to human beings, serve a clear purpose in repairing and enhancing the reality that we’re so fundamentally interconnected with, and where being human is taken to a whole other level and definition, we need to start looking at the fundamental tools, triggers and catalyzers that can help us translate these new findings and realities into a movement. And I believe this starts by understanding two basic facts.
- Most of the skills and traits that we used to believe make for productive and successful human beings will be taken over by machines. Rational intelligence and calculated decision-making are already executed much more efficiently by AI. We need to rethink the qualities and skills that are uniquely human, like creativity, collaborative innovation and inter-human connection, and start implementing these in our educational systems. We need to move from self-consciousness to super-consciousness in understanding our interconnectedness and purpose within our greater environment.
- All of the last 200 years of improving productivity, technology and prosperity have not led to more happiness or a more integrated form of living – on the contrary. We have never been lonelier and unhappier as human beings as we are today. Purpose, service and interconnectivity have been shown to boost happiness and longevity, yet most people feel a void in these areas. We need to rethink and redesign our economic and financial systems to create the right incentives and boost a more fulfilled and integrated human population.
How do we 10x our development as a human species? I believe that it’s not through our governments or education systems. It’s not through mainstream media that is led and managed through corporate interests. It is through revolutionizing an area that most of us spend the majority of our waking hours in, that is highly sensitive to changes in perception and decision making, and that provides a platform to interact with diverse people, ideas and influences: our workplaces.
By addressing the future reality and its implications on our businesses, we don’t only make sure that we are ready for what is coming and equip our business to survive the massive changes that are about to take place (or are doing so already), we can also play a vital role in changing the way that humanity acts, works and lives, in providing greater purpose and endeavors to believe in, and in preparing all of us to turn the technological singularity from a threat into the huge chance that it might be to change the world for the better.
All of these topics sound too great to tackle, but no single person or company will have to shoulder the whole burden. It is little things that we can all tweak in the way we design learning and the employee experience, in how we integrate our corporate purpose in a way that is meaningful and inspiring for our employees and business partners to become the best versions of themselves, in the education of our leaders on their path of being able to meet the demands of the future, and in facilitating a platform for collaboration and meaningful and highly productive work.
As I will continue to study, contemplate and look into what we should be doing from an HR strategy perspective to foster these changes, I would like to invite all of you to join me in the discussion on how to take this next step, and to start to define the way that you are aiming to become a ‘humanity plus’ company that plays its part in creating a future that lets our societies thrive – locally as well as around the globe.
Thank you for your interest and participation! I am grateful for your support, partnership and engagement. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to my newsletter and join the discussion!