In the past 48 hours I have read bits and pieces on Biomimetics, Robotics, Cybernetics, Artificial Intelligence, VR journalism, B2B ethics, the semiotics of art, and transcendental philosophy. Some material came from on line sources, others from good old fashioned hard copy, yes, even a book. I knew very little about most of the subjects under discussion, and I confess to using a dictionary on occasion.
The impact of a massive amount of diverse information – which often disappeared from my screen – half read and nowhere near digested – engendered a state of panic on my part. Why? because I have no idea where all this information is going and my place – pathway through it – and that frightens me:
- how do I fit into a world that I perceive as besieged by change? How do I keep up with it ?
- what is my role – personally (e.g., emotions), structurally (e.g., workplace), practically (e.g., day to day) in this world?
- is there a place in contemporary and future society for someone who has no specialist expertise in new or emerging knowledge bases? Or at least perceives themselves as such?
After I had managed to get over my initial sense of moribund despair I reflected on:
- how many people were, and were not, ‘experts’ in the fields of information I had interacted with
- emerging fields of knowledge that as yet haven’t shown themselves
- the relevance of today’s experts to tomorrow’s world, and
- are experts adaptable knowledge entrepreneurs?
Furthermore, I pondered how many people – in the first world at least – actually thought about ‘their’ position and relationship to new knowledge bases, emerging trends and even past knowledge structures. I decided that the number was probably low. Why? To answer that we need to visit the unknown.
Increased heart rates, palpitations and sweaty palms are never far away if the ‘unknown’ is in town. From the unknown of intimate relations, death, disease, illness, ageing, to the unknown of changing jobs, careers, life styles, learning institutions, moving house/location, the unknown is rarely embraced with total ease.
What can one do when faced with a future that is governed by the unknown – in every area of life, subjectively, structurally, practically. It’s not just a question for the next generation and/or millennials; it is a question for ALL of us, or at least those of us lucky enough to be in a position to ask it.
What platform or life raft can support us – throughout the life cycle – work alongside, and even excel, with and in the unknown?
American transcendental philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us ( Carr – Gomm 2004, 93) .”
We can’t do much about what lies behind us; we can influence what lies before us if we come from a position of openness to the unknown. Sure there will be a few heart palpitations and sweaty palms along the way, but a sense of humour, excitement and steadfast robustness helps to see the unknown for what it can be: positive, interesting, inclusive, improving, exciting. How do we develop this? By understanding what lies within us.
If we come from a position of not knowing what lies within us – how will new knowledge develop? Will it be hindered by past knowledge structures that we unknowingly bring with us? Will those unaware of such historical anchors be able to work with, live with, exist with – new forms of knowledge and their objective manifestations? If the answer is ‘no’ – what future exists for these individuals?
If humanity cannot evolve in a consciously aware sense – if it fails to support individuals to know what lies within them – to think about the world and their place in it – what are the consequences for a rapidly changing world?
Are we – as a global population – evolving with a sense of what knowledge we bring to any situation? New knowledge, emerging trends, future insights – call them what you will, their nomenclature is unimportant in comparison to humanity’s ability to interact with them in ways that assist the evolution of everything we come into contact with.
If humanity is to be responsible for its evolution and all that it connects with, it needs to understand what lies within it – subjectively, structurally and how this plays out – practically. From such a platform the unknown can be embraced and worked with throughout humanity’s personal and collective life cycle. The alternative is too miserable to contemplate: fear, separation, isolation, insularity, frustration, arrogance, boredom, laziness, irresponsibility, mindlessness – subjectively, practically, structurally – locally and globally, and the very real and pragmatic consequences that such experiences create.
Knowing ‘what lies within us’ might not be as sexy as analysing spiders’ webs and kevlar threads, exploring the relationship between aeroplane wings and whale flippers, Calculus and rocket ships, but it’s just as important for an humanity embarking on the age of the unknown at a level and pace that is – as yet – unprecedented in human evolution.
Innovative and creative thoughts don’t just happen in a vacuum. There is a method, a structure, to their genesis that is on going – evolution at its most collaborative and adaptive. At the heart of this
methodological structure is understanding why we personally think as we think, why we personally know as we know.
Knowing what lies within is knowing our content: our feelings, our experiences, our reactions, our daily existence and its interpellation with the social energies and structures we exist in and with. None of this knowledge is rocket science – it can, however, lead to innovations in rocket science alongside innovations in meta biology, Cybernetics, Biomimetics, VR journalism, entrepreneurial thinking, innovative business strategies. It gives us an absolute head start in the world of future trends, social insights, innovation – the world of the unknown.
Knowing what lies within us allows diverse information sources to be connected. It is a short cut, a very real personal algorithm, that seeks connections, collaborations, links, themes and patterns with all knowledge it interacts with – subjective, practical, structural.
When our content, our knowing, encounters new content, information, ideas, people, concepts, innovations – it doesn’t shutdown in a state of panic – and/or indifferent arrogance, it supports us, by holding the new and old together – like a balanced scale. From this state – new ideas, knowledge, thoughts are formed. And regardless of the directional content of these thoughts e.g., biomimetic, AI, drone technology – we are ready, able and willing – to connect with them. This is the platform that allows the experts of yesterday to be the knowledge entrepreneurs of tomorrow. It is evolution in the here and now: this is the responsibility of humanity.