Of course you know this is the Age of Technology. If you are of the older generations, you view this new age with trepditation. If you’ve grown up in the virtual world, you probably take it for granted.
Either way, you will need to know and understand the role technology will play in your future.
The Threats and the Consequences
Let’s begin by looking at this device in the palm of our hands. The manufacturer calls mine a “smart” phone, but I know my phone isn’t smart. It’s a portal to a wealth of knowledge and information, communication and games, truths and lies, poetry or pornography, depending on how I use it.
The threats of misuse are enormous. Parents worry that it could lead their children into the hands of sexual predators. Or, it could lead them to instant self-learning just one Google away.
Some of us worry, and with good reason, that the most recent generations have grown up in a virtual world, totally disconnected from the reality that they will eventually have to face. The so-called virtual world does not make the real world go away.
I wonder if these young people know that ice cream comes from cows and I’m pretty sure they don’t know what kind of cows produce milk or that cow dung accounts for more air pollution in the real world than all the internal combustion engines combined!
The virtual world is a simulated world, no more real than the avatar created by the user to explore a world unfolding in the way the user wishes it to be.
I worry that my grandchildren are growing up isolated from inter-human communication to such an extent that they can’t speak clearly. I hear their clones at cash registers everywhere I go. My grandchildren are pretty good with their thumbs, fumbling out texts and tweets, but I can’t get them to use email so I can communicate more detailed thoughts. Sharing articles is a bust. Read a book? Even mine? You gotta be kidding!
The real world doesn’t turn on sound bites.
If you’re one of us “olds,” I’m sure you got a big kick out of my last few paragraphs, but adults . . . young and old . . . are the cause of even greater concern. We misunderstand and misuse technology to an even greater extent.
I won’t repeat the things I’ve already written in my earlier essays on civics and the media, but you know what I’m thinking. We are aiding and abetting the dark side of technology by succumbing to it, just as we are aiding and abetting the greed of unrestrained capitalists.
Looking for the Opportunities in Technology
Worse, some of us olds are letting our fear of technology dictate the course of our lives. We are caving into the threats posed by the power of technology, rather than looking to uncover the equally powerful opportunities it may offer.
For example, we are terrified by the fear that robots and artificial intelligence will lead to a jobless world. It appears that’s all we can see and it is self-defeating. Our only response to robots is to wage a senseless war against them!
I’ve had at least one robot in my home for most of my adult life. It’s called a dishwasher. Before there was a dishwasher, homemakers had to wash the dishes by hand. Running water in the sink made it a little easier than our foremothers who had to carry water from the well.
But when hand washing was no longer required, the homemaker still had a job. Time was freed up a little to be used for other, less menial, more creative tasks. When homemakers eventually became wage earners, the dishwasher helped make that possible.
I’m the homemaker at my house and last Christmas my daughter gave me a robot that vacuums my floors. Fantastic! It shortens my cleaning day and I have time left to get back to the development of my online project.
Here’s the point I’ve been leading to:
Why would we want to fight to preserve jobs that are vastly undervalued and poorly compensated? Would it not be better to prepare ourselves for the day when we are no longer slave labor and, instead, we have the opportunity to rise to a higher calling?
“But,” you ask, “what will we do without these jobs?”
Let’s go back to my kitchen. See my dishwasher? Now let’s go to my office (the bedroom). See my draft essay on the screen? I am using the time saved from drudgery to pursue greater goals. That’s what you’ll do.
“But without a job, what can I do?”
Good question. And the answer is the very essence of this course. As robots bring efficiency, business grows and you will grow with it.You are going grow and elevate yourself from drudge to asset in a new business model and a new economy that will depend on humans as assets, not liabilities.
Leave Slave Labor to the Robots
When those jobs are gone, perhaps we will stop using people like “robots” and start treating people as “human capital. And compensate them for what they’re worth.
My thoughts go back 20 years to the time when I was telling Fortune 500 companies that their most valuable assets were not in the bank, but in their people. That wasn’t a PR pitch. We were entering the second phase of the Age of Technology when data was failing and it was time to understand that the Information Age was brief and passing. We were now in the Knowledge Age. It wasn’t the data that had the value; it was what their people could do with the data if they were given a chance.
The threat of replacing people with robots and artificial intelligence was not as great at that time, but if I were advising Fortune 500 companies today I would be telling them the same thing. You can create all the replicas of human beings you want, but they will only be able to do what they’ve been programmed to do, even if that means reprogramming themselves as they run into more data.
It’s still just data. It’s not thinking. It’s data management. In an automated world there is no room for thinking outside the box where human innovation is king.
The robot scare is just an extension of industry’s continual quest to make us think that we are replaceable, interchangeable, unreliable and of little value.
I’ve mentioned the alternative strategies of knowledge management before, but it’s worth repeating and connecting with our goal to ready ourselves for a world without menial jobs and with an increased need for knowledge workers.
Rising from Slave to Human Capital
This is a good time to unveil a little more about our plan because we are reaching the end of the Red Zone and heading onto the Yellow Zone where we will build our personal goals, objectives and strategies around a new way of thinking and a new business model that will change the way economics works.
We will have lots of computing power, robots and artificial intelligence in our plan. It will not only free us up for a higher calling; it will help us multiply our opportunities beyond the limits that have been set for us and that we have set for ourselves for centuries.
Until now, we have been hired hands because we needed the assets of an employer to enable us to do our jobs.
Those assets include tangible assets like money, property and equipment. And intangible assets like name recognition, reputation, access to markets and customers. And fellow employees. You haven’t had direct access to these things and so you’ve always had to rely on an employer to provide them in order for you to be able to do your job.
But the technology that threatens you is also the technology that can free you and open the way for growth and greater prosperity.
Once again I’ll use myself as an example. Early in my career I needed a university in order to be a professor. The university had everything I needed including the classroom, the reputation and the students. But the number of students were limited and so what I had to offer was limited to the number of seats in the classroom. And my career was limited to a couple of academic promotions. The best I could be would have been a full professor with a doctorate degree and a salary controlled by the state.
In the Age of Technology, my reach is unlimited and I can do it myself. I don’t need a classroom with limited seating and I can attract as many students as I can handle; hundreds, maybe thousands, even tens of thousands! I can create other classrooms and populate them with more professors and students who will learn how to do the same. Pretty soon I’ve got my own university!
Okay, I’m getting a little crazy.
Technology Will Help You Grow
But you get my point. Regardless of what you love about the work you do, technology will help you extend your reach beyond your wildest dreams. And if there’s nothing you love about your work, you have the opportunity to start over. Do what you love!
Please move on to
Of, By and For the People