Understanding the trends and forces that are transforming our world and igniting the need for readaptation.
Every species must adapt to their ecosystem in order to survive, and we as humans are no different. From our physical body to our behavioral and professional traits, learning to walk, talk, study and work are all adjustment we make in order to continuously overcome the challenges presented by our surroundings. Such adaptation has occurred to us as a species throughout our evolution, as societies throughout our history and continues as individuals in our day to day lives.
In order to adapt, however, there must be a compatibility between the nature and speed of change in our surroundings and our capacity to learn and adjust. Evolutionary history is filled with stories os species – including Homo Erectus, Neanderthals and at least four other homo species – that disappeared precisely because they were unable to keep up with the demands presented by their surrounding environment, and the same is true for empires and corporations. Luckily, homo sapiens are resilient and extremely ingenious and in our modern society we’ve done a great job of adapting so far. But our challenges are far from over.
To say that our surrounding environment is now changing at accelerating pace scarcely conveys the intensity of the transformation. Besides its disconcerting speed, technology’s growing pervasivenes is now spreading well into the physical realm (with IoT, cognification and cyber-physical systems), integrating with biology (synthetic biology, bioengineering) creating new mediums (virtual), new materials (biomimetics, 3D printing) reaching new scales (nanotechnology) and birthing the perplexing creation of an entirely new form of artificial intelligence. Many of these developments are now expected to enter their market maturity fase in practical overlap, and promise to reinvent entire industries and to accelerate what has been an already revolutionary transformation of our world. Adding even more fuel to this rapidly expanding spectrum of future possibilities, these innovations and are occurring alongside a series of new discoveries and developments in the frontier of science that seem to be pushing the boundaries of long-standing beliefs, and igniting an appreciation for the true complexity of reality.
Such developments then have deep ripple effects on the ecosystem itself, on our organizational and governmental structures, and on our very social fabric. Already today peer-to-peer and blockchain-based platforms are shifting sizeable chunks of media power and economic activity away from institutions and into organised cyber communities, decentralized cryptocurrencies (non-fiat or commodity based) are on the rise with astounding growth of business financing, institutions are themselves undergoing structural changes (horizontalization, staff on demand) and, albeit with a rocky start, we have begun to see the rise of descentralized autonomouse organizations, run not by people but rules encoded as computer programs.
Finally,with our growing power as a species, we must acknowledge the implications of these technological and industrial developments on our very global ecosystem. Ideally, all of these open-ended experiments would be taking place inside a controlled environment, or in a time period where we could afford playing hit and miss for a few more generations, yet our present situation is quite the opposite. We have entered both the Anthropocene, where humans cause major shifts in the entire planetary biosphere, and the period known as the Great Filter, where we have the capacity to wipe out ourselves and almost all other species on the planet. Indeed the stakes of our action have never been higher. Be it in our growing geopolitical tension, in increasing health problems, in drastic ecological effects and a nagging quest for a sense of meaning in ours lives, these spiralling trends all seem to call for a deep reappraisal of our how we deal with ourselves and our surrounding environment.
The posts written under this category aim to clarify the transformations and challenges happening today and why they will test our adaptability to its limits, as individuals, as organizations and as societies. There is no doubt that we have the capacity to deal with the challenges we now face, but this is by no means a given. Doing so will require us to develop more dynamic, encompassing, responsable and high performing skill sets which will allows us to keep up with the powerful forces we are unleashing and hopefully direct them to a desired output. It will require, ultimately, to expand our potential, both in awareness and execution, the subject of our next category.