Beware. Under your radar, technology is changing work and life much faster than you think. Machines and software are becoming exponentially more intelligent and influential (even manipulative).  As they get smarter, they do more than make information more accessible, or manufacture tangible things, or do what used to be manual, dangerous, or analytical tasks faster and more efficiently than we can do them. Machines are moving into areas we have long believed are exclusively human!

Technology has always been an extension or amplification of human capabilities: what we could accomplish with our hands (hammer, cooking utensils), feet (wheels, cars), eyes (eyeglasses, tv, microscopes and telescopes), ears (radio, sonar), nose (CO2 detectors). But gradually, like the myth of the frog in the heating pot who doesn’t realize his predicament, computers have been moving into our cognitive domains: analyzing, creating, strategizing, synthesizing, and natural language communicating. Even having and reporting experiences! Machines and software are poised to mimic our prefrontal cortex and are taking aim at consciousness –domains we have always reserved for ourselves.

Futurists predict that, before 2045, computers will become more intelligent than our human brain – which still holds the title due to our 80 billion neurons and 100 trillion connections, and other human capacities.  Futurists call this cross-over point, the “singularity.” Whether or not computers will, like Pinocchio, spring to life, is an open question. But it is time to think about how we will respond to their expanding capabilities.  We can delegate our intelligence to machines – making them our masters.  Or, we can get smarter ourselves, develop our learning and processing power, co-evolve with technology, and ensure it serves us, not vice-versa.

Humans have many untapped capabilities, but it is also true that our technologies are our creations.  Technology is becoming smarter.  So, can and should we!

Our challenge is to cultivate advanced learning skills and mindsets that keep us in charge, but also draw on what technology can do and provide to augment us.  We’ll need to dramatically develop our own imagination, our agency, our ability to detect when a machine or someone is trying to control us, our ability to use more sophisticated and integrated information, and more.  We’ll need to have a deeper understanding of our own brain/body system and its amazing and often untapped capabilities. We’ll need to ensure that technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) enable us to become smarter, not dumber! We’ll need to refine our answers to the questions: What does it mean to be human? Who am I and what am I here for?

Think about it.  Are you co-evolving with technology? Who are YOU with technology?


Next up:  Reason #4 (of 5) to upgrade yourself as a learner: To help others learn

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