“So… how do you feel about the product plan?”. I had just presented the product vision for the next six months.
“I think” came a voice..“I think that there could be a problem with..”
“I am going to stop you right there”, I interrupted. “I did not ask you what you think.. I asked what you feel..”
“See we all know where we are at and why we do what we do.. We have been doing this for some time now…So tell me, what do you feel about the plan”
There was dead silence.
We could not be warring tribes and factions, stealing each others’ food and wives for ever. We had to evolve. We discovered logical thinking. We built common frameworks to share our ideas. We built rules, we built culture, we built morality.
We realised that we could collaborate and build bigger things. So we did. From worrying just about our family or village, we have been able to worry about the problems that plague humanity in its’ entirety. We built systems like United Nations and the Internet that brought us together all on one platform.
Ask anyone about our current stage of evolution — our modern lives, and they would say that there is something wrong about it. We have more technology now than we ever did. We have less people dying of diseases, more people living longer lives.
But then.. something does feel wrong.
We spend more and more of our time on screens. Our cities are becoming more isolated to live in. Our ability to find meaning in our work is drastically eroding. We are looking for games and five minute videos to provide the meaning that work once gave us.
No matter what country you belong to.. you could say that your grand parents and even your parents had a better life in spite of the poor situations they were in. Their life was more about nature and less about what Trump said on his Twitter that day. Their life was more about living and less about thinking. Their life was more human than we can ever be in our lives.
Hey, what do you think about the new proposal? What do you think about my vacation? What do you think about my mini skirt?
From our schools and colleges to our businesses and organisations, everyone wants a part of our intelligence — but with a caveat. Tell me what you think in words that I could understand, please be “to the point” and try to be as creative as possible!
On one side, our work has become so specialised that we do not see how our contributions are impacting the world. What we do today might impact something somewhere in a few months or not at all. The connection has become so remote, it has become hard to find any meaning in anything we do.
On the other side, thinking has become riddled with so many constraints. You can think outside the box, as long as you think inside the bigger box that has been given to you!
No wonder we feel so limited with our lives. No wonder we feel so scared about machines taking over. Deep down we know that we have restricted “what is thinking” to such a level that any machine can do it — if not now, then at least in the coming years. What happens to us then?
We, through our education system, organisational culture, governments — have systematically eroded the importance of emotions in our lives. We restrict and deny the essence of what makes us human and then we talk about losing the essence of humanity.
We have made a big part of our intelligence as something personal, something you can only share with your spouse. We have taken the core part of our intelligence, packed it in a box and put it in the attic of our lives — because we don’t see an immediate need.
In a couple of generations, people will forget that there was an attic , that there was a box and in it was the core to human existence.
In fact, it is already happening.