The year is 2050. Robots, Deep Learning/AI, Automation is everywhere. People are enjoying a longer life expectancy than ever. But, everyone is anxious to know whether machines will take over our lives and if so, how can we protect ourselves so automation wont make us irrelevant? The answer may be found in this fascinating article, in which Yuval Noah Harari proposes several thought-shifting ideas. (Yuval, of course, is the best-selling author of ‘Sapiens’ and ‘Homo Deus’. His latest book ’21 Lessons for the 21st Century’ is another masterpiece and is a perfect gift for any young parents or anyone who is interested in the impact of technology in the future. I know I will be re-reading this someday).

clips from the article:

In order to keep up with the world of 2050, you will need not merely to invent new ideas and products – you will above all need to reinvent yourself again and again.

Given that life expectancy is likely to increase, you might subsequently have to spend many decades as a clueless fossil. 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 50.

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.

So the best advice I could give a 15-year-old stuck in an outdated school somewhere in Mexico, India or Alabama is: don’t rely on the adults too much. Most of them mean well, but they just don’t understand the world. 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. 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to the growing pace of change, you can never be certain whether what the adults are telling you is timeless wisdom or outdated bias.

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. 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.

I think what Yuval is hinting at is this – adapt and change, before you have to. And above all, stay ahead of the curve and ‘run faster’ than the algorithms by getting to know yourself before it does – or else, technology will run (control) our lives.

If we step back a bit, during the industrial era, we leveraged technology and tools to multiply the power of muscle; now that we are well into the information age, we can use newer technology and tools to multiply the power of our minds. It all comes down to optimizing for ‘labor of mind‘ vector over ‘labor of body‘! And its possible that the second order effect of the A.I revolution may end up accelerating our understanding of the mind – since we really do not have any other choice if we were to stay relevant. So why not take advantage of the technological (robot, ai, automation) surplus and focus more on things that makes us human.

To which, I’d say: 2050, bring it!! I think I am ready to meet you….but maybe secretly at first though!