Shift 2020 Brain Food #15 – Exponential Humanity

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Welcome to the shift 2020 Brain Food #15 newsletter with news on my activities, insights and links to must read articles on the technological transformations in business and society, carefully curated by yours truly.

It’s been a while since my last newsletter as I was out for a break and contemplating on new adventures and…

Exponential Humanity
As technological progress is relentlessly speeding into the future while moving from the industrial era to a new data-driven future, the exponential technology era is challenging our human creativity every time even more. We are facing tremendous challenges ahead as well, including climate change, rising energy demand, technological unemployment, disappearing middle class (in developed countries), social polarisation, ageing population, longevity, the shift from ownership to access, the rise of the crowd, the coming explosion of synthetic genomics and biology applications, the changing notion of work, population growth, etc. not to mention the growing political instability of certain regions influencing the rest of the world.

While all of this is gradually slipping into our lives (notice it or not), we keep outsourcing our intelligence and capabilities to mobile applications, chatbots, artificial intelligence and robots for the sake of more efficiency, profit and further automatisation. And yes, there are lots of examples and applications where those technologies will do a lot of good and be great for humanity – don’t get me wrong – however looking at things from a holistic perspective, progress moves on while more and more people seem to be paddling along without a clear vision on how they can create a meaningful future for themselves or their company within such a technological ‘dominated’ future.

It’s time to (re)connect to our core values and decide how we really want to live our lives in the future, using the best of technology opportunities in harmony with our desired futures, not dictated by companies or technologies. We can only approach this huge potential of change with next level humanity awareness.

Related: Tech Companies Design Your Life, Here’s Why You Should Care by Tristan Harris, Product Philosopher at Google until 2016

Building meaningful futures
If you’re interested to learn how to (re)connect to your core values and learn how to (re)design your life, your professional future, or the future business of your company, you may want to join us for one one of our next Socratic Design Workshops we organise in Cadaques on May 27-28 and June 19-21(right after the SONAR Music Festival in Barcelona). Get insights about the world we’re moving into rapidly, and learn how to transform and adapt your business to prepare for the perpetual technological changes ahead. In good company, in a unique atmosphere.

Socratic Design Workshop Cadaques May 2016
Socratic Design Workshop Cadaques June 2016

Socratic Design Academy Group
To stimulate more dialogue online as well, we created a Socratic Design Academy Group. We’ve done a couple of Socratic Design Workshops on various topics with great results and enthusiasm from everyone who attended so we wanted to extend the dialogues and see if this method can work for online learning as well. The objective is to create new narratives for the Future:“Most people think we are living in Reality. But our realities are just a narrative. We are living in old Industrial narratives. And we have to create a new one that can incorporate this exponential technology that is challenging us as Human Beings.” – Humberto Schwab.

Join the group and start with short introduction about yourself and by posting a question you’d like to see resolved urgently.

The Symposium Conference
And there’s more. From many discussions with fellow futurists, technologists, scientists, designers and philosophers, I believe it’s time for a new type of conference, investigating the frontiers of technology and humanity within a philosophical context.

So, I started working on a new conference inviting some bright minds from tech, culture, design and business, interested in preserving an ethical human future in this ever evolving technological age, incubating a generation of new narratives by realising collective wisdom through the art of dialogue.

The conference will be held in Cadaques, Spain on September 28 2016 with activities and workshops before and after the conference date. The event will host maximum 150 people (speakers included). We’ve got a bunch of very exciting speakers pre-confirmed I will start to announce in the next editions of this newsletter.

If you are (or know about) a startup working on AI/Deep Learning/Cognitive Computing, continuous learning programs, future of work & society, philosophy & tech, or working on new services looking at creating the next level of human awareness services, please get in touch.

At The Symposium, we want to bring together thought leaders from the area’s mentioned above and start dialogues with philosophers to generate a positive impact for humanity within our ever-increasing technological world.

Socratic Design Workshops will be organised with speakers, for companies and attendants. Food gatherings will be organised in some of the best restaurants in Cadaques and art and cultural activities will be on the menu during the conference in the “Pearl of the Costa Brava”.

And the weather is wonderful at that time of the year :)

If you’re interested to partner, sponsor, participate, talk, or have any great suggestions for activities or speakers, please do get in touch.

About Cadaques: Salvador Dalí lived in Port Lligat, a small village on a bay next to the town. Other notable artists who lived or visited the city, include Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Marcel Duchamp, Rene Margritte, Federico Garcia Lorca, Andre Breton, Man Ray, Paul Eduard, John Cage, and many others. Cadaqués is mentioned in the story “Tramontana” by Gabriel García Márquez.

Related: Learning to live (on the future of learning) by Humberto Schwab and myself.

And now for some Brain Food!


Douglas Rushkoff Deconstructs the Digital Economy (video)
Digital technology was supposed to usher in a new age of endless prosperity, but so far it has been used to put industrial capitalism on steroids, with Internet startups selling for billions, but destroying more jobs than they create, extracting more cash from circulation than they put in, and disrupting entire marketplaces and neighbourhoods in the process. Douglas Rushkoff, the author of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, explains what went wrong, and how to optimise our economy for distributed prosperity instead of mindless growth.

Digital Ethics
“Racist algorithms” and learned helplessness
Even if the algorithm isn’t creating bias, it’s creating a feedback loop that has powerful perception effects. Try doing an image search for ‘person’ and look carefully at the results you get.

Future of Work (AI / Robotics / Automation)
In Japan, an artificial intelligence has been appointed creative director
AI-CD β is a robot that is being treated as an actual employee in an ad agency.

The philosophical argument against artificial intelligence killing us all
A.I. with sensations could be the beginning of an authentically new intelligent species.

The automation revolution and the rise of the creative economy
The transition to this new economy will happen quickly. Unlike the Industrial Revolution, which spanned centuries, the “automation revolution” could happen in as little as 15 years. The only real obstacle will be people’s willingness to embrace change. This new paradigm won’t arise in a vacuum — politically and culturally, people will have to accept intelligent machines into their lives. And if we’re able to do that, we can move forward into a future that allows us to explore what makes us truly human: our creativity.

The Tech Story Is Over by John Batelle
We Won. Now What?

Design It Like Our Livelihoods Depend on It: 8 Principles for creating on-demand platforms for better work futures
The design of “Positive Platforms” — platforms that not only maximize profits for their owners but also provide dignified and sustainable livelihoods for those who work on them, plus enrich society as a whole — is one of the most urgent tasks we are facing today.

Fear of the robots is founded in the messy reality of labour 
Political context matters in the face of rapid technological change, writes Duncan Weldon at

The Humans Hiding Behind the Chatbots
Behind the artificial intelligence personal assistants and concierges are actual people, reading e-mails and ordering Chipotle.

Robot Waiters in China Are Being Fired for Incompetence
Two restaurants were forced to shut down after their new android assistants couldn’t properly serve food.

The Real Reasons That Amazon’s Alexa May Become The Go-To AI For The Home
Amazon made several very smart decisions early in the voice platform’s life that may make it a friendlier ecosystem for device makers.

Today’s Hero Made an AI That Annoys Telemarketers For As Long As Possible
Roger Anderson programmed an artificially intelligent bot that keeps them on the line for as long as possible. Fun!

Profit over People
Intel made a huge mistake 10 years ago. Now 12,000 workers are paying the price
Intel turned down an opportunity to provide the processor for the iPhone, believing that Apple was unlikely to sell enough of them to justify the development costs. Last Tuesday, Intel announced that it was laying off 12,000 employees, 11 percent of its workforce. The company is still making solid profits — it just announced a $2 billion profit for the first quarter of 2016. But the company’s growth has stalled, and Wall Street is getting worried about its future.

Network leadership by Esko Kilpi
The Web gave all of us a voice. What is happening at the moment is potentially much more radical. It is not about broadcasting opinions but about creating a deliberative form of democracy and a cooperative form of network leadership.
The future focus of interactive technologies should be on the enabling constraints of responsiveness. Extended intelligence requires extended leadership and extended leadership requires participation. We have the technologies, next we need the designs for participation and responsiveness beyond what we have today!

Economics & Society
Social Progress Index
The Social Progress Index offers a rich framework for measuring the multiple dimensions of social progress, benchmarking success, and catalyzing greater human wellbeing. The United States, the world’s wealthiest country in GDP terms, ranks 16th in “social progress.” Compared to our economic peers, we underperform on a number of dimensions, particularly those related to health: life expectancy, premature deaths from diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular and respiratory failure, fatal car accidents, and even maternal and infant mortality rates.

Related: Beyond GDP – is it time to rethink the way we measure growth?
For decades, GDP was the measure of all things. Many economists argue that this is no longer the case.GDP is a partial, short-term measure, whereas the world needs more wide-ranging and responsible instruments to inform the way we build the economies of the future.

In proof we trust by Dominic Frisby
The revolution will not be televised, it will be cryptographically time-stamped on the blockchain. Blockchain technology will revolutionise far more than money: it will change your life. Here’s how it actually works.

Trads will eat themselves by Graham Brown-Martin
Everything that can be measured will be automated
Scientific thinking, has dominated our thinking about how we solve challenges in education and we have embedded this restrictive thinking methodology amongst children even as young as primary school age. Not only are we killing their creativity, worse we are killing their curiosity and wonder — their natural urge to explore, discover and try out new ideas.

Science Says Art Will Make Your Kids Better Thinkers (and Nicer People)
A new study supports our hunch that kids who are exposed to the arts gain benefits beyond just being “more creative.” Students who are exposed to cultural institutions, like museums and performing arts centers, not only have higher levels of engagement with the arts but display greater tolerance, historical empathy, as well as better educational memory and critical thinking skills.

Friends Projects
My friends at CUTEC are organising a Bio Hackaton in Cambridge from June 21-26th 2016.

The same way apps or 3D printing have been spreading globally through the emergence of platforms connecting developers and makers, the same way innovation in Genetics will evolve at a speed never seen before. Bio Hackatons are popping up everywhere around the globe connecting students, researchers, commercial partners and external collaborators to literally re-engineer Synthetic Biology, combining various disciplines such as biotechnology, evolutionary biology, molecular biology, systems biology, biophysics, computer engineering, and genetic engineering.

Startupbootcamp IoT | Connected Devices London 
Startupbootcamp IoT | Connected Devices is a dedicated accelerator for innovative companies with a Smart Connected Device within both Consumer IoT (Wearables and Connected Homes) and Industrial IoT (Smart Environment, Smart Factories and Smart Retail). Startupbootcamp IoT | Connected Devices provides funding, mentorship, office space in London and access to a global network of corporate partners, mentors, investors and VCs, for up to 10 selected Internet of Things (IoT) startups across the globe.

The program is run by MD Raph Crouan, using his extensive background in strategy and business development across hardware products. Raph has assembled a team of the most prominent connected hardware developers and thinkers within the IoT space, allowing startups to collaborate with 100+ mentors, partners, and investors to build world class hardware and IoT products.

Startups have until June 13th to apply to the program, with applications open to companies from across the world.

Building a tech team outside of Silicon Valley
Some good insights by Harsh Sinha who left Silicon Valley last year to join TransferWise as their VP Engineering.

Climate Change
5 ways AI & IoT are impacting the planet
Some GREAT examples of how AI & IoT technologies can help reduce waste, conserve resources, and mitigate natural disasters. Check out these slides (from IBM Watson) how you can use IoT for a better planet.

Health & Medecine
Microscope uses artificial intelligence to find cancer cells more efficiently
A device invented by UCLA’s Claire Lifan Chen and Ata Mahjoubfar uses deep learning and photonic time stretch to analyse 36 million images per second without damaging blood samples.

The Librarian Who Saved Timbuktu’s Cultural Treasures From al Qaeda
A middle-aged book collector in Mali helped keep the fabled city’s libraries, books and manuscripts safe from occupying jihadists

‘Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization’, by Branko Milanovic
(Financial Times Book Review by Martin Wolf)

The era of globalisation has produced beneficial outcomes. But it has also created huge challenges. If ever-rising inequality within countries is to be avoided, redistribution of the income from capital, or of wealth, seems to be an inescapable part of the answer. Is this politically possible? Probably not — in which case, the political future of the west looks bleak. Ever-rising inequality looks a highly unlikely combination with any genuine democracy. It is to the credit of Milanovic’s book that it brings out these dangers so clearly, along with the important global successes of the past few decades.

My Talks & Presentations
Last week I did a keynote at Google for Work in Mexico City on “Leadership in the Era of Exponential Change”. You can see the video of my presentationwith Spanish overdub.

This Wednesday, I do a similar keynote for the Google Atmosphere Event in Bogotá, Colombia.

On May 12, I do a keynote at the Criteo event Stockholm on “Marketing in the Era of Exponential Change”.

If you’d like to book me for a presentation, talk or workshop, please get in touch.

That’s it for this week.

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I’m delighted and grateful to be able to do what I love and share these wonderful stories and knowledge with you. How about you?

You can read the previous editions of this newsletter here.

Be kind to yourself and your loved ones.

Hope to see you soon in Cadaques!


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