This is a question being asked by digital ethicists around the globe and one that helps us think about how technological revolution might interact with our clients’ lives.
View the following 3:02 video from futurist Gerd Leonhard where he asked these types of questions in a compelling way.
My beloved skeptics might need to dig a bit deeper into this possible, almost assured, future. Let’s check out a TEDx Talk by Dr. Jordan Nguyen who uses human technology interface to help persons with disabilities.
View the video below:
Dr. Nguyen references an important element in determining our future with technology: general artificial intelligence. Current artificial intelligence far exceeds the process capacity of humans but ONLY in domain specific areas. Playing chess is a good example. No human, even the best chess player in history, can beat a computer at chess. Every human alive can beat that same computer at almost any other cognitive task because the computer’s super intelligence is domain specific to chess.
We don’t know when artificial general intelligence will be achieved but is unfathomable to think it will not given the current pace of progress towards this goal.
Back one last time to Gerd Leonhard who makes the case for digital ethics to ensure that humans can continue to flourish in the environment of expanding technology. View this 2:37 video here:
It seems that our goal moving forward is not only to uncenter work but also to uncenter technology so that our clients can thrive in the 21st Century world-of-work. Let’s look at three key areas where career development and technology overlap thus providing an opportunity to do career work and life work at the same time.
How are you different in person than on Instagram? How many friends do you have who will help you move a couch versus help you get to 100 “Likes” on Facebook? Where does your LinkedIn professional network stop and your list of people willing to give you a positive reference for a job begin?
There are volumes of surveys and initial studies suggesting that social media has heightened the very real human experiences of loneliness, envy, anxiety, and depression. While the science is not yet clear, there is enough evidence to strongly suggest that people are losing a sense of real human interaction and finding their virtual community to fail at the task of filling in the void. Social media and work both are important places where our sense of identity, community and self-worth can easily be negatively impacted.
“It’s about being a good, wise, and generous human being” writes the author, Emily Esfahani Smith. She then uses the work of Erik Erikson to remind us that our tasks are to develop identity in adolescence, intimate bonds in early adulthood, and then generativity in adulthood. To help others accomplish their goals and reach their potential. Generativity is all about deep, meaningful relationships (those you are helping) and deep, meaningful experiences (the act of helping). If our identity (i.e., self-worth) is stunted (possibly through social media interaction throughout this lifespan), then we will be inhibited not only in the workplace but in our lives.
As we work with clients, it is super helpful to think about generativity concepts and how to address them. Inclusivity versus exclusivity, Pride versus embarrassment, Responsibility versus ambivalence, Productivity versus inadequacy, Parenthood versus self-absorption, and Honesty versus denial. In each case, a client expressing the former is being generative while a client expressing the latter is suffering from stagnation.
Technology doesn’t only sap our real relationship time, it is designed to sap our focus. The algorithms built into most all social media are based on an engagement model whereby the goal is to cause users to select (i.e. click) and maintain (i.e., surf) engagement with the platform as often and long as possible. This is actually how advertising is analyzed and paid for on most platforms. We humans are being controlled by algorithms designed by behavioral psychologists on these platforms and there is nothing we can do to resist it (other than not use them).
Recall from Positive Psychology, that “flow experiences” are often reported as those in which humans feel that they are most flourishing. Deep work is the proving ground for work-based flow experiences and these must be intentionally planned for to happen in the modern world age. Clients whom I have worked with who intentionally make space for deep work (regardless of their field) certainly report more deep, meaningful experiences at work AND by my observation also find it easier to connect to others when not in deep work mode, providing more opportunities for deep, meaningful relationships at work.
There are ways to create flow at work. View the 8:17 video below to learn how to do this.
Obviously, my focus for this lesson is the fourth benefit of virtual work: Work-Life Satisfaction. My experience in this area is at home with my spouse, a long-time virtual employee. It has been difficult in the past; difficult creating a pattern to the day, finding social connections, knowing when she was at work and not at work, dealing with me when I work from home (which I now do half time), etc. It took time and intentional effort to learn how virtual working could enhance our lives. I am happy to report that we have a deeper, more meaningful relationships and experiences now because of it!
Now, take 10 minutes and write in your journal. I am not going to provide specific prompts, I simply ask you to write about Self Worth, Focus, and Changing Work as you see it in your life and the lives of your clients.
Changing work seems to be the sticking point as our human need for predictability collides with the current reality of 21t Century work. The reality is that it is impossible to anticipate every roadblock on your career path, particularly today. In fact, this is so true that Dr. Jim Bright, the father of Chaos Theory of Careers, wrote a column by this name. Read the article.
What can we do? Creative “Career” Uncertainty is one point of focus that helps clients address self-worth, focus, and changing work in the 21st Century world-of-work. Facing uncertainty (ambiguity) with a creative, uncertain mindset is an antidote to fear and paralysis replacing these inhibitive states of being with positive assets such as mental flexibility, career adaptability, and self-management.
Michael’s column makes a similar call as this course, to “drop” some of what we know as we understand and adapt to change. Additionally, he makes some specific recommendations for tools that we might learn to use as we drop some that we are currently holding.
Specifically, I want to dig deeper into the idea of creative uncertainty. Please view the following 4:12 video that illuminates how cognitive biases feed into our fear of uncertainty while employing certain cognitive techniques will lead to more inspired living.
Have you been convinced yet? I hope so because I want to share one more reading before we move to the final dialogue for this course. Julia McCutcheon actually provides five tips for developing creative uncertainty in our own and our clients’ lives. Read her short article here.
My hope is that you are feeling a deeper, more meaningful connection to your clients as you prepare for the final dialogue video in this course. View the video below.
Now that you have finished with Class 3, you are finished with Uncenter Work the course! Answer questions 10-15 on your worksheet. Mark this section complete and move on to the comcluding section.