This paper is Part I of two articles to be published in sequence under the same principal heading. The subheading is somewhat different for these two parts, and they are very complementary.
Educators are the co-founders of our future
We are living in extremely disruptive times. Our world, our systems, and our foundations for working and living are out of balance, ready both to implode and explode. We teeter on the edge of collapse of all-encompassing transformation, which calls all leaders to face challenging choices. Do we view these challenges as opportunities or threats? Are we capable of launching the inward exploration, the “heroes’ journey” that is required to change ourselves and then to lead change with others and in our organisations? Do we have the courage to confront the ills and traumas embedded in our previously constructed systems that are now even more fully inflamed by the unleashed forces that are giving us the energy and fuel to truly metamorphose through the chaos of our times?
What often drives change is a vision of tomorrow that pulls us through the chaos and pain of transformation. However, we as leaders of institutions and organisations have not yet figured out our tomorrow. We may see the impact of today’s changes and our day-after-tomorrows unfolding. Yet, what is our tomorrow? What tomorrow — what paradigms, reality, outlook, systems, and capabilities of tomorrow — will help us create a tomorrow that is fully worthy of human living, human working, human loving, and human flourishing?
This paper includes two interrelated parts that will be published in a sequence. In both parts, we build on previous articles published in this journal as well as in Kindai Management Review. Our aim is to continue the discussion and create a future that is worthy of living for people around the globe. All in all, we are proposing a new system to support both the disruptive transformation and the organic envisioning of a new world that celebrates humanity and all our innovations, whether they be technological, emotional/spiritual, or heart/brain based.
The logic for this series is the following. In Part 1, we present the actual and emerging context of our times, labelled the “Danger Zone.” This zone may be considered the void of creation, a place and time of turmoil, upheaval, and loss, which must be experienced and then crossed to reach a new tomorrow. If handled poorly, we may further exacerbate the inequalities, terror, and pain experienced by many across the globe — the end of the world as we know it. If handled well, we also may face the end of the world as we know it. Yet, could we also gain? What kind of world could we create if people lived from a place of wholeness? If today’s children, teens, Gen Zs, millennials, and leaders were educated, led, and freed to be even more uniquely human? We describe this Danger Zone as being upside down, out of balance, and ripe with potentiality.
We also offer a profound analysis of human uniqueness, within the greater context of the non-human trends we must grapple with in our current reality, including the fast-developing role of artificial intelligence (AI). We provide a perspective on creating a world and workplaces based on the balance of profit (arising from capitalism) and purpose (arising from values, meaning, trust, and heart intelligence). In addition, we offer an examination of human uniqueness on four different levels: “Me”, i.e., individuals; “We”, i.e., relationships, communities and society; “They”, i.e., human artifacts; and “It”, i.e., the environment and ecosystems necessary for us humans to survive and thrive.1
In Part 2 (our ensuing paper), we address the role of education (and identify the broad-based need for educators) needed to lead the change we need in our world. One thing is certain: education, as we envision and deploy it today, is outdated. It fails to prepare us and our next generations for the new world. Therefore, this is an urgent call to transform education and to develop a new core curriculum. The redefinition of education, as we will argue in this article, will become the foundation of an encompassing global educational transformation that must be implemented from preschool through secondary, tertiary, corporate, and life-long learning programmes. The identification of educators, as well, must expand as, together, we envision the capabilities, relationships, and interconnections needed for global, community, and individual transformation. All leaders must become educators and coaches of others. All individuals must become educators and coaches of self in order to accomplish the external and internal systemic changes we need in order to transform our reality.
Part 2 also offers a brief analysis of the transformation needed in the economic, sociocultural, business, work, and leadership aspects of organisations, so that the gestalt is more complete, effective, and impactful. Our future is still unfolding, co-created by all who step into the creation process. We view this article as an invitation to all readers to participate in the transformation process, so that we address both the immediate (acute) and chronic conditions we face in the quest to co-create positive transformation in our world today.
A turning point: will we allow the collapse of our civilisation? Or will we create total transformation?
We stand on the precipice of human and planetary survival and sustainability. Having moved past the binary poles of right or wrong decisions, leaders must clearly face the ramifications of decisions, unprecedented in scope and impact, that were made in the past and are currently destroying human lives and societies. Global threats like climate change, food security, availability of clean water, the COVID-19 pandemic, massive human migration, authoritarianism, polarisation, and even global war are driving entire societies apart, destroying the fabrics that have woven them together for centuries. These forces have caused people around the globe to suffer from extraordinary levels of anxiety, stress, depression, and hopelessness, whether the source of their pain is conscious, unconscious, or existential. Though daunting, many institutions and leaders are rising to the occasion, working individually and in collaboration to meet the lofty ambitions described in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For these to be achieved, however, we need still-greater levels of commitment and collaboration at every level of our world: system, institutional, trans-institutional, community, family, and individual.
What is most terrifying is to realise that the underlying foundation of many of the destructive forces is human beings themselves. Although human beings are capable of being both sinners and saints, three negative motivational drivers inherent in human nature have prevailed: 2
- Greed for power, money or dominance over others, which eventually leads to corruption and abuses of power
- Fear of losing acquired wealth, status, or an entitled or privileged position in society (e.g., racial superiority)
- Fundamentalism and hatred of all that is different or strange or that doesn’t fit into accepted norms or images
All three drivers stem from two interrelated economic principles: the illusion of infinite growth and the belief that more is better. These drivers fuel a vicious cycle that is propelled by interlocking disruptive forces and the rising levels of stress, anxiety, and angst that is a defining feature of the human condition. We believe that leaders across systems and disciplines need to pay immediate attention to breaking this circle (within their institutions, organisations, and individual decisions) to change the disastrous outcome towards which we are rushing headlong.
These widespread and unchecked negative emotions and realities, however, are causing people to lose trust in their institutions and the political and economic leadership of their societies. Such a loss of trust within societies is dangerous. They may precipitate a greater meltdown of core human values and a general state of human indifference and the decay of social structures that have evolved through generations of civilisation. They have given rise to totalitarian leaders who promise simple solutions to complex problems, using ideology, religion, and control of mass thought and media to subvert democracy, freedom, safety, and true security. Often, people without a strong sense of purpose or inner self-esteem can be easily seduced by authoritarian personalities because they have lost sight of their own moral compass. This cycle legitimises autocracy and may lead to anarchy. The cycle represents a dying of the old systems that are no longer working, that really have never worked. And it offers a tipping point, a choice point, arising from the recognition that out of death and decay comes transformation that may be energised by the beliefs, practices, and actions of people and communities across the globe. We are at the crossroads of two intersecting paths: the continued spreading hopelessness, despair, and a lack of meaning throughout the population; or the rebirth and flourishing of the “higher” human being, capable of addressing the opposing forces of continuity and change.
We should always bear in mind that most people tend to notice, perceive, and even believe information when it confirms their opinions and worldview, even when the information is contradictory and the facts do not make sense. Neural research can explain this. Part of our brain, the amygdala, is wired to see familiar patterns that have developed throughout our lives. These patterns help us to more quickly discern activities occurring in the world around us and to make decisions that keep us safe. These patterns also underlie our biases and judgments we hold in our perceptions of current reality. Stress, anxiety, depression, and hopelessness actually only strengthen the amygdala’s control over our reactions. Depleting emotions and “negative” feelings keep us locked into patterns that have been built in our nervous systems throughout our lives and keep us from being able to access the parts of our brain (higher cortex, etc.) that we can use to be flexible, to make values-based decisions, and to choose a new direction in the moment. It is therefore not a surprise that our biases “rule us,” orienting us to accept information that is consistent with our worldview. Science tells us these cycles can be changed by accessing heart-based tools and heart intelligence. Being conscious of our beliefs and biases can also help us to better screen and absorb information in a more critical manner. Unfortunately, many people have fallen prey to false prophets marketing fear and “dogmatic truth,” even if it is evident (to others) that this information contradicts the facts. The exchange of “truth” for a “promise of safety” seems to have settled more and more around the globe, which has also led to polarisation, scapegoating, and the “cancelling” of people, communities, and societies as well as any ideas different from one’s own.
People can be influenced by, and succumb to, other insidious traps. We can observe a growing number of people following abstruse and fanciful conspiracy theories, often fuelled by social media. Others place nearly unlimited trust and belief in technology, making it appear like a new form of “religion.” Technology is an ever-changing “god”, as the demand for growth, fueled by incremental, disruptive, architectural, and radical innovation (both evolutionary and revolutionary) shakes up our industries, institutions, communities, and individual lives. The advance of the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (robotics, AI, AR, VR, big data, IoT, blockchain, crypto, and the like) has produced a developing scenario in which the service of humanity seems too often eclipsed by the momentum of technology. The Fifth Industrial Revolution, however, if responsibly and ethically developed, may allow human beings and technology to dance together, metaphorically speaking, proactively building a connection between technology and purpose and inclusivity.
We can envision neither the path going forward nor the final outcome of our decisions. Do we choose to create value and serve humanity or do we continue to make short-term decisions based on negative human drivers and further perpetuate economic, political, and social turbulences and increased human, animal, and planetary stress?
In this paper, we choose to move from the “either-or” strategies and decisions of the past to the “both-and” strategies, decisions, and creative solutions that we need to effectively lead today and tomorrow by exploring the role of education in the transformation process. With this our declared endgame, let’s begin by describing more clearly the Danger Zone in which we are living and operating.
The Danger Zone: “Either-Or” or “Both-And” Alternative Outcomes
Let’s set the stage by reviewing a precept of economics. Traditional economic theory is based on the notion of trade-offs. Trade-offs are the foundation for understanding opportunity costs, which describe the balancing of factors involved in decisions that involves time, resources, factors of production, and knowledge, which are unattainable all at the same time. For example, a person gives up the opportunity to buy product B because he/she wants to buy product A, as in the standard economic example of guns for butter. Trade-offs are part of the traditional mindset and worldview of business; we must give up profits for purpose, short term for long term, people for technology. Trade-offs set up an “either-or” decision matrix and have led to a Danger Zone that we believe entails the risk of the partial or total collapse of our civilisation.
Moving across the Danger Zone is critical for the survival of people, societies, and the plan. We believe there are alternative pathways leading to different landing zones in our shared future.
Whatever path we take, everything indicates that we are coming closer to a mega-disruption, which may lead towards a “back to the start” journey for humanity, a near extinction, or even a total collapse in humanity and civilisation. If we are lucky, we may co-create a deep transformation process that leads to both Transhumanism and the shift from Meta-Mind towards Ω-Mind and Encompassing Metamorphosis, creating a completely new world. Most importantly, we are still in the co-creative process of transformation! We still have the opportunity, capacity, and capability to access to our higher-human selves and intelligence to choose the pathway and direction with which future humanity may unfold.
Human Uniqueness and Collaborative Intelligence Revisited
Before we examine how transforming education is necessary for us in order to transform our future, we need to review the concept of “human uniqueness.” Human beings, in many ways, are a unique species that is grounded in nature and the natural, living reality. We have physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional qualities. We are also part of the earth, Gaia, which may simply be seen as a vast self-regulating organism. Human beings are also highly complex biological machines (i.e., living entities that are able to procreate and multiply). We have highly developed levels of consciousness and self-consciousness along with a subconscious that drives our decisions in sometimes mysterious ways. We are capable of introducing a new level of complexity into our already complex world — the capacity to exert purposeful and meaningful change within ourselves and into the fields, relationships, and systems around us. The free will born of consciousness allows people to imagine and to create things which were not there before.
Unlike machines, another aspect of being human is our fundamental identity as relationship creatures, whether they are unilaterally, mutually, and/or multilaterally defined (see Exhibit 1). We have a relationship with our self, which gives us an inner context to our life, an identity within a complete and complex “metaverse” of our self. We also have relationships with other people (e.g., friends, partners, children, families, communities, etc.). In so doing, we are both part of these relationships as well as separate from, and with, them. We are also part of larger communities and societies, again, simultaneously being a member of them while still standing separate within them. Human beings are thus complex creatures with the capacity to be part of an inner metaverse, a collective intelligence, a collaborative intelligence, and an outer context (or greater metaverse).
As human beings, then, how do we create purposeful and meaningful change? We believe that this process must begin with education. Education is the main driver for securing social and cultural continuity and developing unique, mature personalities. Instead of focusing solely on “artificial intelligence” as a stand-alone strategy, we need to begin thinking about artificially enabled and highly performing, purposeful actions. Remember that all the so-called “smart” and “intelligent” machines are based on algorithms; and all algorithms are developed by human beings who often cannot separate their perceptions from their own deeply seated biases and experiences, all embedded in their neurological systems. Consequently, AI systems perform by mimicking human behaviour described, defined, and directed by human beings.
Collaborative intelligence, as described in previous papers, is developed when the individual and collective intelligence of human beings is combined with artificial intelligence. It is developed through mass collaboration, exponentially growing when humans and smart AI-based machines work together, which allows it to deliver the best results by leveraging the most appropriate abilities of both sides. When human intelligence and AI is able to leverage collaborative intelligence, combine the collective intelligence of the crowd (through massive crowdsourcing) with the computational power of machines (including IoT, cloud, and virtual reality) in all forms and on a massive scale, we can reach the Meta-Mind. You can think of the Meta-Mind as a joint venture of enhanced human mind and highly smart, advanced AI, the place of “Singularity.”7
Given the human propensity to be in relationships and our constant desire to learn and grow — and when the Meta-Mind lives and acts in our current and not-yet-foreseen multiple realities and hybrid realities — we can envision “superminds” gathering in Supermind Academies, Meta-Mind Academies, and Global Meta-Mind Academies. We would then be able to create a Meta-Mind Society that is dominated by Meta-Minds. There, the Superminds and the highly developed machines are fully connected to the outside world, forging “Symbionts.”8 In the Meta-Mind Society, AI-based machines will lead the further development of technology algorithms, tools and systems that are needed for its full development. This may change once the development of AI and AI-based machines is capable of operating completely independently and autonomously from human support and intervention.
This Meta-Mind Society requires a new level of collaborative intelligence that we cannot even imagine today. Furthermore, we have not yet developed the capability to collaborate on such an any-to-any scale. We also need new forms of organisations, new structures, such as digital, virtual, and meta-platforms, core processes, and advancements in new technologies such as neuroscience, bioinformatics, and cyber-reality for this to occur.
The overarching purpose of this vision of the future is to create value for all the elements, or stakeholders, involved in its implementation. For this to happen, we need a shared purpose, shared ethics, shared values, a Global Collective Regulatory Board, and individual human beings operating from their highest-human self as often as possible. We have great work to do to create a world in which this is possible, valued, and rewarded. Unfortunately, too many political and business leaders today are rather “top-heavy” in their orientation, mindset, and power. Many are more concerned with their rewards, achievement, and earnings than the needs of the people they lead or the institutions with which they collaborate and partner. Too often, C-level and senior executive meetings are focused on power games, solving problems, or fixing legacy systems rather than taking concrete actions to create value throughout the organisation and its stakeholders, whether they are human- or machine-based. It usually takes a crisis or conflict to shake an executive team from its comfort zone and seek true change.
A Necessity: Leaving the Comfort Zone
Why does a crisis or conflict elicit change? How do they motivate people at all levels of institutions and from all backgrounds to move from their comfort zones and actually change?
Research tells us that people resist change. A popular adage says that people would rather die than change. Why might this be true? Over the course of their lives, people become comfortable with behaviours, rules, guiding principles, and values. Their use makes it easier to live and to make decisions, requires less thinking and more built-in, automatic responses. This set of routines builds a box around us, four walls that allow us to be more productive and more efficient as we meet each passing moment without having to weigh or test alternative responses to everything going on around us. These four walls also inhibit our ability to think about, explore, be curious about, or even see something that is new. As long as we continue to receive favourable responses to our behaviours, most people believe they have no reason to change. This becomes one’s comfort zone, one’s baseline operating system, which works simply because it works over a sustained period of time. Additionally, we want to feel good about ourselves. We have all learned effective techniques for retaining a positive self-image. If what we have done has worked in the past, we will continue these behaviours. This desire helps us discredit disconfirming data from the external world, and we are faced with a difficult choice: to reject or to accept its message. Accepting something new may be painful, as we are faced with changing our positive self-image, stepping out of our comfort zone, experimenting, learning something new, changing our behaviour, and accepting our new self-image.
The opposite way of being in the world over time is to live and work with a learning mindset. Those with a learning mindset hold an attitude that predisposes them to seek out challenge, to be open to new experiences. They are curious, motivated with a constant and intentional need to learn and to grow. In fact, they believe they can and will learn through the experience.
Research also shows that leaders with a learning mindset and an intention of gaining something positive from an experience actually experience more growth and development than leaders who don’t hold this attitude.
Now, enter change in the external world in the form of a crisis or conflict. Or a wholly new disruptive force, like the powerful, even unimagined, onset of artificial intelligence into our comfort zone of leading, running an organisation, interacting with others, building our workplace, and even learning. There are a variety of ways to accept or reject this invitation to transform. Leaders with a learning mindset, seeking to imagine, reimagine, or envision a new tomorrow, have learned to learn, to dream, and to address the fear and stress that naturally occurs with profound invitations to change and then to work to transform others. The transformation process requires courage, reflection, a deep sense of caring and compassion for others, and the willingness to explore and speak one’s truth while moving into collaboration with others.
Let’s further explore the comfort zone and its principal drivers and challenges in light of the risks and potentiality — the possibility of creating a “utopian” or “catastrophic” future — offered with the advancement of artificial intelligence in our world and work (see Exhibit 2).
Imagine a leader who is an inventor, innovator, entrepreneur — a dreamer of making a difference, leading change, and creating a future worth living, ripe with courage, curiosity, and strong feelings of passion and commitment to create a dream. Her life has multiple aspects, include her working life (in which she performs daily tasks, seeks results, and drives her career) and her personal life (in which family, friends, personal values, spiritual routines, and emotional well-being are valued and sought). In order to create a purpose-driven sense of meaning in her full life, her goals include bringing purpose and well-being into all parts of her life, cultivating a sense of relation, connection, compassion, and care into work, and clear-sighted goals and mindset into her personal life. She is very concerned about the future generations of her family, wanting to move beyond hoping for a positive world to strategically leading the creation of one. She actively seeks to look within so that she develops herself to be capable of envisioning a positive future and thriving future generations as well as out into the community, seeking to address the key issues glaring in society’s reality.
To make a dream come true, she recognises that capabilities for creativity, resourcefulness, entrepreneurship, and perseverance are required. Additionally, she knows that any kind of change, much less transformation, will move her outside her comfort zone, that place and space in which she feels good, positive, and valuable. She will need to move into a zone of discomfort as part of the process of creating a new comfort zone. Awakened with curiosity, inspired by hope, seeking to alleviate pain (her own and the world’s), dissatisfied with the status quo, external forces of change, disruption, and dark possibilities of current reality, she feels she simply must act to do her part to create a better, more positive world for future generations.
There is pressure and even fear in such a model with its imploding energies and drivers. Any change leader knows that he or she (and all the people with whom they connect) are critical stakeholders in creating the future. He or she feels the impetus to envision the new, to rally their stakeholders to create a new tomorrow, calling forth courage to hold to a dream and then use innovation, entrepreneurial skills, and gathered resources to make it happen. As Martin Luther King said, “Tomorrow is today!” The push to speed up and the risk of being too late to address the huge and challenging problems inherent in crossing the Danger Zone can be inspiring, yet also stress-producing. Fear, stress, dissatisfaction, and hopelessness can overwhelm or even paralyse any change leader. What is needed for all leaders is the resources and capabilities to operate their inner lives while supporting external stakeholders to be fully capable of moving into the abyss, through the danger zone and into their new comfort zone with ease.
What are the keys to success for a leader of change as she anticipates our future world and creates the pathway to get there? Being capable of intelligent collaboration and partnership, where information integration, visualisation, and new modes of sincere and co-creative collaboration will improve business performance beyond our wildest expectations. Reimagining vision and potential, where organisations step away from their past successes and even the systems, rules, and stories that gave them their successes in order to co-create from the perspective of “what is possible?” rather than “what should we do?” Using the foundations of social entrepreneurship as a first light in the dark of anticipatory change. And transforming the foundations of education in a world that is teetering between survival and metamorphosis.
The Metaverse: Its Potential Transformation of our Economy, Society, Work, and Education System
Some futurists and pundits are envisioning and describing our future world as a “metaverse”. This term was originally coined by Neal Stephenson (1992) to describe a future world comprised of a network of 3D virtual worlds in which people can interact, do business, and forge social connections through virtual avatars. The metaverse draws on numerous technologies already in play, including machine learning, blockchain, virtual reality platforms, gaming, 3D graphics, digital currencies, sensors, and VR-enabled headsets. Given how COVID-19 has isolated people and encouraged remote and hybrid work experiences, the metaverse could reshape how we work in four major ways: new immersive forms of team collaboration; the emergence of new digital, AI-enabled colleagues; the acceleration of learning and skills acquisition through virtualisation and gamified technologies; and the eventual emergence of a metaverse economy with completely new enterprises and work roles.9
The metaverse may bring new opportunities for segmentation, supplementing direct-to-consumer (D2C) and business-to-business (B2B) strategies with direct-to-avatar (D2A) approaches. Estimated market sizes may reach as much as $800 billion or $1 trillion in size by 2024, and leverage the current expenditures on gaming platforms for virtual goods, as well as block chain and bitcoin innovations. Commerce may unlock the development of value chains and commerce chains in virtual-to-virtual as well as physical-to-virtual and virtual-to-physical formats.
Within this world, communications, propelled by digital transformation, may lead us to develop an advanced web platform that will promote the sharing of information, data, and intelligence between the machine-to-machine (M2M), human-to-machine (H2M), machine-to-human (M2H) and human-to-human (H2H) interfaces.
Although the development of a direct interface between human brain and machines has yet to be developed, advances in virtual reality, holograms, 3D technologies, and AI could give us the potential to remotely network a vast array of human brains through machines. These advancements would, of course, impact the production and R&D processes, accelerate “future of work” changes, and increase our demand to metamorphose the education system (see Exhibit 3).
Work is already being transformed by “future of work” forces, such as increasing contract work, digitalisation and virtualisation, lifelong learning, diminishing global talent, and others. In addition to these trends, we believe that we are also witnessing a dramatic transformation in the meaning and purpose of work. Given the level of challenges we face as we step into the Danger Zone, the activities and values of both work and life will be integrated as, together, we use entrepreneurship for social innovation, developing solutions that allow us to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals that address all aspects of sustainability, including climate, water, air, human dignity, and social equality. Such a future represents a call to action by all countries (poor, rich, and middle-income) to promote prosperity, respect life, and protect the plan. They also recognise that strategies need to both end poverty and promote economic growth, while addressing social needs such as education, health, job opportunities, and social protection, and tackling climate change and environmental protection. The need to create solutions in our physical reality, digital reality, augmented or virtual reality, in any convenient place and time, is vast.
Finally, work and education may become more joyful and fun! Gamification inspires creativity and imagination and supports physical and virtual “building” of products and services. In the metaverse, we may all become builders.
Let’s Imagine a Story: Ina as a Future Supermind
Ina is an introverted person. Quiet and shy as a child, she has always been highly imaginative and full of both curiosity about the environment and a passion for the enigma, the unknown of the universe. From the outside, she appears to live in her own world. As a child, she preferred spending hours with animals instead of other children, filled with empathy towards all living creatures. As a teenager, she was labelled “difficult,” because she was a loner, very focused on her own inner world while appearing to be closed off to interactions with people and situations around her. In school, she was attracted to subjects in the history of science and history of the arts, which she pursued in higher education. She also participated in the first human uniqueness-based “core curriculum.” She was an outstanding student in the “Future Lab,” through which she learned how to develop and deploy her imagination and future-oriented mindset. She became involved in planning for the metamorphosis of education, consciously concerned with the importance of maintaining the humanity of human beings through the development of human-unique capabilities and shared core values.
She finished her studies right when the Meta-Mind Society was launched. To Ina’s surprise, she was invited to join the Meta-Mind Academy as well as become a member of the Supermind group “Supermind for Future Design.” Ina’s sources of superior uniqueness are her empathy and her imagination with a particularly developed ability to envision the future. Given her interest in the future design of science, she became a member of the Education Certification team in the disciplines of historiography (the study of historical writing) and history of science. Ina was invited to become a member of a Supermind team oriented toward exploring the feasibility of dream projects, such as: Fusion Mind and Ω-Mind; the nano-production factory; time and space engineering; time travel; new energy sources; light speed and beyond; cosmic travel to exoplanets; and the world beyond the elementary particles. She will be invited to become a Symbiont further down the road.
Conclusions for Part One
Is a world of Superminds, Super Academies, and a possible Singularity far-fetched? Does it feel frightening? Overwhelming? Exciting? Do you long for a stroll in nature, deeply breathing in the clean air and feeling the touch of wind on your skin… or does it perhaps inspire you to step onto the technology-future train with your entrepreneurial spirit and identified core life values?
Here is what we know. The transformation of work and business has been a continual process since the beginning of known history. Technology has continually aided productivity benefits, transformed society, and improved the human condition from the Stone Age period to today. Technology, today, is transforming our world faster than ever, propelling us into great increases in efficiency and opportunity while also exacerbating dangerous side effects: a hyper-speed reality, information overload, extremely high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, and an ever-growing addiction to our screens. For example, the latest research shows us that the rise of cryptocurrencies, aided by AI and blockchain, is moving currency creation from the national to individual levels. Mining bitcoins using blockchain technology, designed to rely on a vast decentralised network of computers, requires a huge level of computing power, and therefore energy use. The mining of bitcoins in the UK alone uses a similar amount of energy to the entire nation of the Netherlands, with two-thirds of the required energy sourced through fossil fuels, causing a huge negative impact on climate change.
We also know that education, too, has shifted over time to support changes in society and technology. Though encumbered by bureaucracy and inflexible systems, we also recognise its supreme importance in improving the lives, work, and dignity of people around the world.
To some, the Metaverse is the future that has already begun. Still others think it a fad, even a pipe dream of the imagination that will never come to pass. To others, it seems like a nightmare being unleashed upon humanity. Clearly, however, we are in a transformation process, one that demands that we face the Danger Zone squarely, standing on the brink of total catastrophe or a great potentiality to step more deeply into questions of humanity and the humane — and to challenge each other to answer the very difficult questions about the relationship between the attributes of human uniqueness and the opportunities and threats offered by the cyber age.
We may soon see the first multi-hybrid, integrated models of business and work based on human labour, intelligent machines, and virtual activities performed by humans and supported by virtual entities. Collaborative intelligence and cyber-entities are beginning to appear in many aspects of daily life and work. An encompassing metamorphosis is emerging, tipping society, politics, education, science technology, economy, business, and work
What we also know is that the future has not yet been created. As we read the tea leaves of change in our tea cups of reality, we see the world careening out of its historical comfort zone over the next twenty to thirty years. We clearly see the precipice on which we stand, teetering on the edge of catastrophe and utopia, as we face the looming Danger Zone. We have no choice but to solve the wicked problems that threaten our survivability while walking through the competing economic, political, and sociocultural turbulences and related anxiety and stress levels.
What gives hope is a growing level of awareness of a universal consciousness in worldviews and science. This consciousness is flooding our minds and hearts with new ideas and approaches in almost all the sciences, allowing new technologies to blossom and to bring more spiritual awareness of our lives and work. Simultaneously, we also see that the life objective of many individuals around the globe is shifting towards their individual and collective search for life’s meaning and the prioritisation of life values. This search is universal, part of the individual life design, which flows as a core element of lifetime education and honouring the dignity and contributions of people at all stages of life. Furthermore, human beings are social creatures. For social life to be beneficial to all its members, key principles such as mutual respect and tolerance are needed as they allow for the expression and acceptance of diversity of social and political forms.
This all leads us to raise a critical question worthy of deep exploration: will technology and all it offers work to serve society and humanity, or will it be a dire weapon of destruction that even more quickly robs us of our humanity and lives?
As leaders of organisations and institutions and members of families and communities across the globe, we must answer this question. We urgently need to prepare interim solutions and work to co-create a future world that is worthy of living and working, one that offers dignity to all people, creatures, environments, and nature across the planet. This is a challenge we raise to governments, business, educational leaders, and to all human beings. For us to answer this question, we need courage, collaboration, a set of shared values, a new educational framework, and great trust operating throughout all our systems.
We do not wish to use technology to escape reality but to embrace life, employing it with great care and shared values, so that we are able to augment reality with virtual content, experiences, knowledge, and connections that can make life and work more fun, productive, and fulfilling. The technologies of the cyber age offer an opportunity to help people experience a greater connection to loved ones and to human beings around the globe. Although education is not the universal panacea, we know that it is a valuable and essential part of the solution for preparing us for the future of work. Our educational paradigm and curriculum both need to advance to support our exploration of deep-rooted questions about humanity and the humane. Its transformation to include lifelong learning, the honouring of life in all its phases and stages, and to develop what is uniquely human are the gifts of this coming age. Such an education system will also allow us to step into new careers and jobs, expand our talent and those of every human being on the planet, reduce inequality and inequity, and more consciously and responsibly co-create our shared future. If we are not prepared as a global society to work in the future, we face tremendous risk and loss: the loss of jobs and uncontrollable unemployment; the loss of consumers and taxpayers, leading to non-functioning societies; and even the loss of empowered societies, capable of continuity and change. This situation may lead to a growing polarisation of people and greater inequity and inequality that may crack society and lead to social unrest.
We need global regulation by leaders who operate from a place of heart (including connection, community, collaboration, and service) rather than ego and rapacious greed. Such a world will build bridges across the many boundaries and borders that separate us and empower the journey we must face, leading us through, and into, the Danger Zone and into an unforeseen utopia.
We believe that the guiding force through the chaos and complexity must be fuelled by trust, heart intelligence, and core values that supplement the brilliance of head intelligence and knowledge-intensive innovations. These capabilities will help us untangle the knotted cords of unfettered growth and greed that create the illusion of infinite growth, and the bureaucracy that roots us in traditional systems and paradigms that no longer operate effectively. They will help us build collaborative intelligence between human beings and machines, led by human beings, with machines positively serving society. The one word to lead us through the transformation: the African word “ubuntu,” which means, “I am because we are.” “Humanity towards others.”
So, What Can We Do?
Manage the transformation… or it will manage and control us.
We could wait for governments and the corporations to save us from the consequences of the global key issues, threats, and disasters. We could take to the streets, demonstrating for others to undertake heroic action. We could complain, get angry or desperate, resigned to an uncontrollable outcome. We can also choose power in our own lives, take one small step for humankind at a time; change our diet or consumption patterns; reduce our own carbon footprint; avoid littering; choose new packaging alternatives over plastic; take care of the environment; love our children and our community members.
These are all useful and terribly necessary steps. And we need more. We believe that we can use the power of technology and create community networks or foundations that allow us to leverage the power of focused solidarity. Foundations could be used to finance cyber-cooperatives— local, regional, national, international, or global in expanse. Each cyber-cooperative could tackle a wicked problem of greatest concern and meaning to its members: the preservation of nature and the environment; organic food; climate change; human dignity; inequity of employment and education; women’s rights; or peace.
Let us use the twin engines of human-unique capabilities and advanced technology intelligence to launch solutions that capture the beauty and wildly-imaginative aspects of being human beings.
Note: This is the end of Part 1 of our paper. In the ensuing issue of this journal, Part 2 will discuss the metamorphosis of the education paradigm and curriculum and present a further call to action to leaders of change.
About the Authors
Dr Mario Raich is a Swiss futurist, book author and global management consultant. He was a senior executive in several global financial organisations, and Invited Professor to some leading business schools like ESADE (Barcelona). He is the co-founder and Chairman of e-Merit Academy (www.emeritacademy.com), and Managing Director for Innovation Services at Frei+Raich Ltd in Zurich. In addition, he is a member of the advisory board of the Global Future of Work Foundation in Barcelona. Currently he is researching the impact of cyber-reality and artificial intelligence on society, education, business and work.
Dr Kristine Marin Kawamura is currently a Clinical Full Professor of Management, Drucker School of Management, Claremont Graduate University (California, USA). She is also the CEO and founder of Yoomi Consulting Group, Inc., a leadership success and transformation consulting company. Her research as well as overall purpose is focused on transforming leadership, organisations, societies, and individual lives with Care – a core resource for creating extraordinary collaboration, authenticity, resilience, and engagement in organisations and unlocking new levels of human, technological, and societal impact.
Dr Simon L. Dolan is currently the President of the Global Future of Work Foundation. Former Future of Work Chair at ESADE Business School in Barcelona. Former professor at many North American business schools, such as Montreal, McGill, Boston and Colorado. He is a prolific author, with over 80 books on themes connected to managing people, culture reengineering, values, coaching and stress and resilience enhancement. He has also published over 150 papers in scientific journals. He is an internationally sought-after speaker. His full c.v. is at: http://www.simondolan.com
Dr Paweł Rowiński is ALLEA Board Member (Polish Academy of Sciences). He holds a degree in mathematics from the University of Warsaw, and doctoral and habilitation degrees in earth sciences with a specialisation in geophysics from the Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences. Among others, his research interests include mathematical methods in geophysics, geophysical flows, river hydrodynamics, and fluvial hydraulics. Paweł Rowiński has published more than 160 refereed scientific publications. He serves as associate editor for several prominent scientific journals and publications. In 2018, he was elected Vice Chair of the Europe Division Leadership Team of the International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research IAHR. Since May 2015, he has served as Vice President of the Polish Academy of Sciences (second term in office).
Mr Claudio Cisullo is a Swiss entrepreneur. During his entrepreneurial career, he founded and established over 26 companies in different business segments globally. He is a board member of several internationally renowned companies. He is the founder and owner of the family office, CC Trust Group AG and also the founder and Executive Chairman of Chain IQ Group AG, with headquarters in Zurich. Chain IQ is an independent, global service and consulting company providing strategic, tactical and operational procurement. (https://chainiq.com/)
- See: “Rethinking Future Higher Education”, Mario Raich, Simon L. Dolan, Paweł Rowiński, Claudio Cisullo, Courtney Abraham and Jan Klimek, The European Business Review, January-February 2019; “Managing by Traction (MbT). Reinventing Management in the Cyber-Age”, Mario Raich, Tomasz Krzeminski, Claudio Cisullo, Simon L. Dolan, and Bonnie A. Richley, The European Business Review, November-December 2020; “Human Uniqueness at the Dawn of Intelligent Machines”, Mario Raich, Dave Ulrich, Simon Dolan, Claudio Cisullo, The European Business Review, July-August 2021; and “The Art of Life Design”, Mario Raich, Jan Klimek, Simon Dolan, Claudio Cisullo. Kindai Management Review, September-October 2022, vol. 10.
- We talk more about these drivers in our books: Raich M., Dolan S.L. (2008) Beyond: Business & Society in Transformation. Palgrave-MacMillan; and Raich M., Eisler R., Dolan S.L. (2014) Cyberness; The Future Reinvented, Amazon.com
- See recent writings and more details in: https://www.shapingtomorrow.com/home/alert/8167288-Social-Futures; “Survival at stake”, https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/archive/survival-at-stake-836631; “What are the biggest threats to humanity?”, Simon Beard and Lauren Holt Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, 15 February 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-47030233; Francesco Basetti, “Environmental Migrants: Up to 1 Billion by 2050”, https://www.climateforesight.eu/migrations-inequalities/environmental-migrants-up-to-1-billion-by-2050/; Sir David Attenborough, “Climate change ‘our greatest threat'”; Matt McGrath, 3 December 2018; Luke Kemp, 19 February 2019, “Are we on the road to civilization collapse?”, http://www.bbc.com/future/columns/deep-civilisation; “Why catastrophes can change the course of humanity”, Seth Baum, 9 April 2019, https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190408-how-catastrophes-can-change-the-path-of-humanity
- “Why catastrophes can change the course of humanity”, Seth Baum, 9 April 2019, https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190408-how-catastrophes-can-change-the-path-of-humanity
- Mario Raich, Simon L. Dolan, Claudio Cisullo and Bonnie A. Richley (2019) “Beyond Collaborative Intelligence we can see a Meta-Mind Society Surfacing and we can Dream of a Ω-Mind”, The European Business Review, September.
- For more information on the concept, see our paper published in this journal: “Human Uniqueness at the Dawn of Intelligent Machines”, Mario Raich, Dave Ulrich, Simon Dolan, Claudio Cisullo, The European Business Review, July-August 2021
- Singularity may be defined as “a hypothetical moment in time when artificial intelligence and other technologies have become so advanced that humanity undergoes a dramatic and irreversible change.”
- The MIT Center for Collective Intelligence defines Superminds as “a group of individuals acting together in ways that seem intelligent”. Companies, governments, labour markets, scientific communities, the editors of Wikipedia, and the US economy are all superminds, because they all include groups of interacting individuals that – at least sometimes – seem intelligent. In other words, “supermind” is a short way of saying “collectively intelligent system”.
- Purdy, M. (5 April 2022). “How the Metaverse Could Change Work”. HBR. How the Metaverse Could Change Work (hbr.org), accessed 2 May 2022.