Humans have long known that change is inevitable. In ~500 BC Heraclitus wrote the phrase, “Everything changes and nothing stands still…” Some 2,500 years later, in the early 1900’s, Heraclitus was misattributed with the quote, “Change is the only constant.” Ironically even a quote about change has changed. There are constants in the universe which never vary. Yet in our lives, change is ever present.
Humans are pattern recognition machines. We have the ability to identify patterns of rapid change, and a have chance to equip ourselves for the future these patterns imply.
A new economy of machines and automation is here and growing. After this machine revolution, there will be another. Having a foundational knowledge of artificial intelligence will give you access and opportunity regardless of your field.
In the book, The Second Machine Age, there’s a passage I read that gave me insight into how knowledge can empower us. The story is of Kaggle, an online company, which helps people learn data science by hosting data competitions. This time, the competition’s goal was grading essays with AI technology:
None of the top three finishers (of the competition) had any previous significant experience with either essay grading or natural language processing. And in the second competition, none of the three top finishers had any formal training in artificial intelligence beyond a free online course offered by Stanford AI faculty and open to anyone in the world who wanted to take it (86)
Break out of the Domain Knowledge Trap
It is not surprising that people with the domain expertise don’t always have the best solutions. Domain knowledge means one has a very strong understanding of the past. But deep understanding can also hinder creating something new if ones understanding is only facing the past.
Having an attitude of a learning, a newbie mindset, means you keep asking foundational questions. You can look at a status quo and ask, “Why?” You don’t get too comfortable with your knowledge.
Knowledge is fuel for imagination. Domain knowledge mixed with new knowledge yields powerful and innovative new ideas.
Don’t be a domain expert, be a cross domain expert.
We’ve more access free knowledge than ever before! The story of Kaggle is a reminder that knowledge is power and that learning will keep you sharp.
We are being begged by this environment (rapid change, access to knowledge, cross domain knowledge resulting in power) to take action!
Take action to prepare for the future of automation.
Learn about foundational knowledge of artificial intelligence!
You can start by watching this course on AI. If you’re skilled in technology but desire a primer this is a good start. If you’re a creative leader and don’t know much about AI, this will give you a massive amount of creative fuel.
Fighting change is futile. We will all be tempted to fight change at some point because we want to hold onto the good we have. If we hold on too long, we may go down with the ship of the past; when we should be building a future raft.
1 “Heraclitus.” Wikipedia. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraclitus.
2 Brynjolfsson, Erik, and Andrew McAfee. The second machine age: work, progress, and prosperity in a time of brilliant technologies. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2016.
3 Preparing for the future of artificial intelligence. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/whitehouse_files/microsites/ostp/NSTC/preparing_for_the_future_of_ai.pdf
Also published on Medium.