Unchartered Territories ahead: Role of Culture and Human value systems

September 22, 2017

Famous futurist Gerd Leonhard in his book, Technology Vs Humanity says:

“As AIs (Artificial Intelligence) gradually then suddenly become scientists, programmers, doctors, and journalists, meaningful work opportunities could become so scarce that very few of us would snag a job-as-we-know-it today. At the same time, most items on the lower steps of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs–such as food, water, and shelter–will become increasingly cheaper. Machines will be doing most of the hard work, making the provision of services such as transportation, banking, food, and media vastly cheaper. We may be heading towards the uncharted territory of economic abundance on the one hand, but the end of working for a living on the other. We will eventually need to separate money from occupation, and that shift will challenge some very central assumptions about how we define our own values and identities”.

He is not the only one to state that we would have jobless growth or we would have abundance of food but no jobs. Vivek Wadhwa, in his presentations and book ‘The Driver in the Driverless Car’ continues to state similar thing – we will have abundance of water and clean energy at very affordable prices even in the poorest parts of the world. But these developments would not create new jobs. We are heading towards jobless growth.

Almost every futurist has given predictions on these lines. And we don’t have to wait to long for these predictions to come true. We are already experiencing many of these things around us. Clean energy is getting available at lower prices, food productions all the over the world is touching record high, farming is happening in the dessert areas. Though few things are confined to developed parts of the world but with the exponential growth in technology and supply chain, we will see the gains of these abundance reaching every corner of the human population in less than 10 years.

The technology developments are reducing dependence on human power. The repetitive jobs are being consumed by machines and AI powered bots. When we call up most the service providers (AT&T, Comcast etc) most of the time we end up talking to AI powered software. Businesses are going to deploy more and more such software, algorithms and robots to carry out these jobs at 10X efficiency at 10 times lower cost of humans.

This also means that businesses would see huge growth in their profits. Rich will become richer and poor will become poor. The inequality will grow even further. Today 62 people in the world have wealth equal to bottom 3.5 billion people.! Just pause and digest this great discrepancy that exist today. Imagine what would happen in coming days !!

And then add a scenario that millions of people will not have jobs.

What will be social challenges? How will social structure look like, how will governance work? We don’t have answers to these questions. But one thing is pretty sure, that social fabric would be guided by the individual character, motivation and values. If we don’t have people with strong human values, with no foundation of cultural systems and strong sense of community, there would be anarchy. People would not know how to put their time to use. There would be full stomachs but empty minds. There would be material abundance but no meaning to life. People would have transcended today’s so-called definition of happiness as they would have achieved most of it – food, shelter, comfort – all material values. Now they would need more than that – which is ‘meaning’ or purpose of life. These full stomach-empty minds-souls would need to be channelized for the right purpose.

In such a situation, there would be a need to help people find meaning. Many researches have shown that people find the meaning to life from social acceptance, contribution to something more than ‘self’ and having a sense of belonging. People flock to social and cultural organisations to connect with one or some of these elements. People look for leaders and societies that can help them connect with ‘higher self. Thus, the work of social and spiritual organization becomes even more important. It would become even more important to institutionalize the system of inculcating these values.

-Sachin Dabir



‘You are as good as yesterday’

August 20, 2014

I came across this quote once again, after a long time.

“ IT industry is very strange, it doesn’t care what you did or what you were in the past, you are as good as yesterday”.

It is so true. Our industry is so fast moving that we can not continue the journey on our past laurels, we have to constantly keep doing better and better if we want to succeed. This is applicable in every field – coding, product designing, sales, marketing or back office work. Gone are the days when one would continue to be hero based on one master stroke delivered once upon a time. We have to push ourselves, we have to re-invent ourselves to move forward successfully. And this means we have to learn new things by keeping our minds open, by making conscious efforts.

I am totally connected and in sync with this thought.

And this is so true in our personal life as well, isn’t it? We need to constantly learn, absorb and grow if we want to be a better person. We can not afford to be a good person just once, we have to be better every time. And how can we do it without constantly improving when world, people, relationships around us are constantly evolving.

I feel life is a journey and only if we continue to learn do we get permission to go to next destination and enjoy the places, the moment we stop learning, life passes by without taking us.


Eavesdropping… on our own mind

June 6, 2014

Have you ever paused and read / listen the thoughts that pop up in your subconscious mind? Most of the time we are not even aware that something is happening in our mind that is much deeper than we think. But if we train ourselves, we can listen to the thoughts that pop up in our deeper mind. In a simplistic way it needs us to look at ourselves like a third person and almost act like eavesdropping on our our own mind.

Once we get used to listening to it, it is fun. At times it is scary, at times it is entertaining. But it requires real courage to assimilate those thoughts, analyse and channelise our mind, for thoughts leads to action. Many times it happens that we don’t let some thoughts come to the surface because we don’t want them to influence our actions. But it is important that we acknowledge these deep thoughts and do something about it – either take some action or work towards totally removing these thoughts.

Many times these thoughts are motivating but we are afraid of their influence on our life. We don’t want to break the status quo, we don’t want to come out of our mould.

Some times these thoughts are depressing, at times they are totally unacceptable. And we simply brush them aside. Actually they don’t go away, they remain somewhere or even if they go away what is the guarantee they won’t come back?  If we really want them to go away and never to come closer to our mind we need to acknowledge them and then understand why did they come in first place. If we can identify the root cause and act upon it, we would never have to spend our energies in pushing away negativities.

There is another very interesting game we can play with our mind i.e. to train our mind to generate positive thoughts naturally, without having to work for it. As we learn to listen to our thoughts, understand how they occur, it is not difficult to create our own system of making our mind a factory of positive / stimulating thoughts.

“When you can not change things in a hurry, change the context”

April 3, 2014

Imagine this :

You were the world champion in a particular sport for over 6 years, you lost that title to someone almost half of your age, your performance declines further and people have started writing you off. There are comments with a near cetainity that you were finished and your days were over. Next year you enter into the tournament, winner of the which would be challenging the world champion. Before the event you are not even amongst top 3 favourites. And you emerge as a winner with a thumping victory.

Stop imagining.

This is the real story of Vishwanathan Anand who just won the candidates tournament, undefeated, earning the right to challenge the current world champion – who defeated him in 2013, in November 2014.

On his return to Chennai on April 2, in an interview on NDTV among other thing, Vishwanathan Anand talked about “what it felt like playing with his young son, Akhil” The response to that question had a great insight and a message. I have enclosed the audio clip of that response here. For me it had three insights :


1. Change of context : When you can not control what has happened or what is happening, you need to find a way out by changing the context or getting into another situation – mentally or physically. This is what he said he did when it was a tough time to accept that he was no longer a world champion. He spent time playing with his son. Which basically relaxed him, helped him forget what had happened and most importantly helped him prepare for the next phase.

2. Playing with your son (or kids) : This is another important aspect. Spending time with your son is so much relaxing, it is such a stress buster. It gives so much happiness that it makes us mentally strong to face the world.

3.  When I was listening to the interview, I thought his son might be 8 or 9 years old, old enough to play chess with world champion dad. But when I googled, I found that he is just 3 years old. And if a world champion dad feels good about playing a 3 years old boy, he must be really really good, another world champion in the making? Lets wait and watch.


Social media shaping our lives?

May 25, 2012

For most people including the marketeers, social media is a form of technology which maps our behaviour into digital world. Actually this is how the entire automation or for that matter the computerization has started. We first tried to automate the routine work with the help of machines then we made them little intelligent by adding ‘CPU’ or brainpower. Think of machines – typewriters then word-processors on the computers or calculators and then spreadsheets. Think of the early use of computers for payroll etc. Essentially we were asking the machines to do our work. Most people ( who are 35 and above today) have to come to think of computers, internet as a way to map our tasks – personal work and office work in the internet world.

But social media such as Facebook or Twitter or Google hangout or Linkedin are proving to be much more than manifestation of our lives in the digital world. Though the founder’s of these companies might not have started with the grand vision and great psychological studies or with the intentions of changing the people behaviour, but these tools are precisely doing that – they are taking us into an era where our social behaviour is being shaped by them. Here are sample examples why I think it is happening :

Definition of friends : We all value number of likes and comments to our posts by our friends. We engage and connect with the people with whom we did not have in-depth relationships in real life. But we value their comments, we establish some bonds with them. With more and more people being on-line, the way new generation would think of ‘friends’ is entirely going to change. There are going to be more online friends than real life ones and they are the ones who are going to be more influential.  These influences would not have cultural boundaries. This wold lead to the behaviour patterns that have no historical pattern that can be studied. It is all going to be very new.

‘Hanging out’ : With the video chats and ‘hangout’ types tools becoming common coupled with online games becoming more interactive where do you think people are going to spend time on? What is going to shape their minds?

Learning process : We used to think sending to school was enough for the children to get knowledge and information. To give them something extra there were libraries. In a way, it was a linear process, there were defined ways of acquiring the knowledge. Now we want children to be all rounded at an early age and are exposing them, at times pushing them, to many sources of information – schools, tuition, classes, workshops, camps and online assignments. If that is not enough they are expected to understand the latest developments in each fields while learning the basics. For example we teach them ( in the schools) sound waves, light waves, fundamentals of electromagnetic theory, atomic structure etc and then we want them to know about the latest developments in satellite communication, nano technology, super computers etc.Essentially we want to shorten the learning cycle by pointing to the resources available online. Obviously they get pushed to spend more time going through internet and all these social resources.

The entire social media is going to acquire its own form, without we noticing it. The minds, culture, behaviour, societies and nations are  going to be shaped by what people get exposed on the social networks. Are we ready to embrace it?

Note : I have made the image by combining three different pictures available on various sites.

Ego and Fear : two sides of same coin

September 2, 2011

What we call as fear, is actually our ego that comes in our way.

Just think of it. Many times we stop ourselves from doing something. eg. trying out new outfit, trying to learn new skills in the classes, trying to pick up conversation with strangers, going to new places etc.. the list is long. We call it as our fear. We feel its ok to tell people “I am afraid of picking conversation with new people” or ” I am afraid of going to music class”. We even say ” I don’t know if I would be able to do it”, “People will laugh at me”.

On the face of it all of these excuses look like ‘being afraid of’ syndrome.

But think little deep. Why do we have this fear. What are we afraid of?

We are actually afraid of losing our ‘position’. We think of ourselves as somebody, at some position, in some particular place in the hierarchy. We have reached that position due to our current characteristics. If we have to learn something new, try new outfit, we are looking at ourselves from our ego point of view. We bring the lenses of our position and we don’t want to disturb it. We don’t want to upset the applecart. Why?

Because we think of ourselves as ‘somebody’ at our subconscious level. ( I am not an expert in psychology, these are merely my observations).

Now bring yourself at the ground level. Think you are nobody and you are learning this new skills, trying our new thing for your benefit. You have your strengths but you don’t have to defend your position. Take out your ego and make yourself humble… all your fears would be gone. You would feel free and you will become happier.

Ego comes in way of having peace of mind. At the extreme level when we say ‘ I am afraid of height or of adventure sports, we are actually afraid of death. Why?

If coming in this world was not in our control, death is also not. We have not brought ourselves in this world, ‘someone’ else, then why cling onto the notion of ‘I’?

If we work towards removing ‘I’ from our life, I think, we would become happier.

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