Reconnecting neurons and rewiring synapses is damned hard work. But in the 21st century, you can hardly afford stability. If you try to hold on to some stable identity, job or world view, you risk being left behind as the world flies by you with a whooooosh. Given that life expectancy is likely to increase, you might subsequently have to spend many decades as a clueless fossil.
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To stay relevant — not just economically, but above all socially — you will need the ability to constantly learn and to reinvent yourself, certainly at a young age like As strangeness becomes the new normal, your past experiences, as well as the past experiences of the whole of humanity, will become less reliable guides. Humans as individuals and humankind as a whole will increasingly have to deal with things nobody ever encountered before, such as super-intelligent machines, engineered bodies, algorithms that can manipulate your emotions with uncanny precision, rapid man-made climate cataclysms, and the need to change your profession every decade.
What is the right thing to do when confronting a completely unprecedented situation? How should you act when you are flooded by enormous amounts of information and there is absolutely no way you can absorb and analyse it all? How to live in a world where profound uncertainty is not a bug, but a feature? To survive and flourish in such a world, you will need a lot of mental flexibility and great reserves of emotional balance.
You will have to repeatedly let go of some of what you know best, and feel at home with the unknown. Unfortunately, teaching kids to embrace the unknown and to keep their mental balance is far more difficult than teaching them an equation in physics or the causes of the first world war. You cannot learn resilience by reading a book or listening to a lecture. The teachers themselves usually lack the mental flexibility that the 21st century demands, for they themselves are the product of the old educational system. The Industrial Revolution has bequeathed us the production-line theory of education.
In the middle of town there is a large concrete building divided into many identical rooms, each room equipped with rows of desks and chairs. At the sound of a bell, you go to one of these rooms together with 30 other kids who were all born the same year as you.
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Every hour some grown-up walks in and starts talking. They are all paid to do so by the government. One of them tells you about the shape of the Earth, another tells you about the human past, and a third tells you about the human body. It is easy to laugh at this model, and almost everybody agrees that no matter its past achievements, it is now bankrupt.
Certainly not a scaleable alternative that can be implemented in rural Mexico rather than just in upmarket California suburbs. In the past, it was a relatively safe bet to follow the adults, because they knew the world quite well, and the world changed slowly. But the 21st century is going to be different.
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Due to the growing pace of change, you can never be certain whether what the adults are telling you is timeless wisdom or outdated bias. So on what can you rely instead? Technology can help you a lot, but if technology gains too much power over your life, you might become a hostage to its agenda. Thousands of years ago, humans invented agriculture, but this technology enriched just a tiny elite, while enslaving the majority of humans. Most people found themselves working from sunrise till sunset plucking weeds, carrying water buckets and harvesting corn under a blazing sun.
It can happen to you too. If you know what you want in life, technology can help you get it. Especially as technology gets better at understanding humans, you might increasingly find yourself serving it, instead of it serving you. Have you seen those zombies who roam the streets with their faces glued to their smartphones? Do you think they control the technology, or does the technology control them?
Should you rely on yourself, then? Even Disney is coming to realise it. The voice we hear inside our heads was never trustworthy, because it always reflected state propaganda, ideological brainwashing and commercial advertisement, not to mention biochemical bugs. When Coca-Cola, Amazon, Baidu or the government knows how to pull the strings of your heart and press the buttons of your brain, could you still tell the difference between your self and their marketing experts?
To succeed in such a daunting task, you will need to work very hard on getting to know your operating system better. To know what you are, and what you want from life. This is, of course, the oldest advice in the book: know thyself.
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For thousands of years, philosophers and prophets have urged people to know themselves. But this advice was never more urgent than in the 21st century, because unlike in the days of Laozi or Socrates, now you have serious competition. Coca-Cola, Amazon, Baidu and the government are all racing to hack you.
Not your smartphone, not your computer, and not your bank account — they are in a race to hack you , and your organic operating system.
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In fact, we are living in the era of hacking humans. The algorithms are watching you right now. They are watching where you go, what you buy, who you meet. Soon they will monitor all your steps, all your breaths, all your heartbeats. How do you make it useful and or apply it to your life? I particularly appreciated the nuances shared around elite athletes use of visualization, or rather imagery. Thank you Tim, thank you Michael! Hi, I am a heavy listener of our podcast and I love it. However hearing several episodes through a week made me ponder read get irritated about the Audible recommendation.
It is a great app and the recommendations of the two books are great.
However when hearing it several times over and over. This made me think of a proposal to refresh it. You read many books and highlight books in your 5 bullet friday newsletter. Wouldnt it be possible to refresh the audible commercial in the Podcast with an update on the most recent books which you could recommend.
Perhaps keep the recommendation of the Graveyard book but highlight a new book now and then. I know it is time consuming and a question of time available. It is only my simple idea for improving an already fantastic podcast. Great talk, but what was the book he got for his kid that was about Pokemon? My kid loves Pokemon and is just starting to read so I am looking to encourage that.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy. I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
Hi Tim, Just re reading your book for the second time and have become a little evangelical about it, pimping it out to all my friends. I finally feel normal. You seem to be the male equivalent of myself. I watched your video on hugging strangers, cracked me up.
Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:. Email required Address never made public. Name required. Cheers mate!
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This book is about determination and following your dreams. With charming pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations, this introduction to one of the most prolific female inventors will leave readers inspired. A thrilling adventure crafted by the author of Pippi Longstocking.
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