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Sunday, December 26, 2010

I Can See Through You

To see through somebody, they need to be transparent. Since people aren’t physically transparent, we can only hope for mental transparency. Imagine if everyone’s mind was completely open to everyone else. There would be no secrets. Anyone who thought seriously about doing something harmful to someone else would soon find themselves being questioned by their peers as to their motivation.

Anyone thinking about starting a war to enrich their family, friends and themselves, would have some explaining to do. It sounds far-fetched and futuristic. Maybe it is, but here’s a time-line that could make you rethink that:

2013 – The first retinal heads-up computer display is developed
2016 – Retinal displays become commercially available
2019 – Experiments with biofeedback input devices allow thoughts to be used for computer input
2022 – The first available hands-free, human physiology integrated, computer input/output device is marketed
2025 – 70% of the population remains wired into the net all day long
2028 – New backup software allows us to backup any or all of our thoughts and memories to the net
2030 – Software allows us to share our thoughts and memories with anyone we’d like
2035 – People get more comfortable with the idea of sharing their thoughts directly with other people – the world starts to change

This may seem an aggressive timeline, but people are already working on the technologies involved and significant progress has been made. There’s no reason to believe that this timeline cannot be met. This means most of us will be around for these breakthroughs.

My attempt here is to show how technological breakthroughs incrementally move us in a direction which may be seen as scary as when taken all at once, but will be quite natural over the proper course of time. The end result is: we change forever. As our ability to share full sensory experiences emerges, we will naturally get more comfortable with the idea. Little by little, we will start to give away the privacy of our thoughts. We will discover that most people are not malicious and we can improve our relationships with everyone by sharing our thoughts more openly.

In time, maybe five years, maybe ten, we will begin to understand the true power of total transparency. It will no longer seem so daunting, but a natural improvement to society. Language barriers will fall as well. The realization that we all share the same basic motivations will bring us closer together. “Bad actors” will quickly be identified and treated for their psychological disorders. War, poverty and crime will be virtually wiped out.

We can dare to dream…

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Edge of Hope

Ever think that, just maybe, mankind is ready for something better?  Those of us who have so much to give thanks for, might want to stop and consider some of the fundamental beliefs shared by most everyone on the planet:
  • Happiness is better than anger
  • Love is better than hate
  • If we care more about others, it helps them and doesn’t hurt us
  • Suffering is bad
  • God really doesn’t want us to kill each other
  • If we don’t take care of our planet, we’ll have no place to live
  • Currently, anything that wrecks the planet wipes out all humans
  • We’re smart enough and capable enough to live away from the planet
  • The world spends too much money getting ready to kill each other
You could make individual arguments against each and every one of these points, but would you really believe them in your heart?  I hope not. 

We suffer from a lack of leadership.  There is nobody looking at the entire planet and asking the question, “How can we all live together in peace and harmony?”  It seems like something which would be high on the list of priorities for any leader who cared about the people they serve.

We must have a flawed way of picking leaders.  What’s the right way and how do we get there?  First, we need to define the characteristics we want in a good leader:

1. Empathic
2. Emotionally Intelligent
3. Intellectually Intelligent
4. Altruistic
5. Open Minded
6. Creative
7. Passionate
8. Goal-Oriented
9. Good Communicator

There are lots of people out there like this.  None of them want to be a leader under the current situation.  Why?  Because, our current system puts people through hell before they get elected, appointed or they conquer their people.  Only someone who craves power would do it.  And, people who crave power do not have all the qualities listed above.

Knowing this, how could we attract the right people?  In the Internet age, we have the technology to identify such people.  All we need is:

A. A way to draft them
B. A way for them to share their ideas with us

What if, rather than a party system, we had a website where people could nominate a blogger to be a leader?  Then, others could go read the blogs and give a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to “the candidate.”  The people with the best ideas would get the most votes and the top vote getters would receive government funding to run their campaigns, which would allow them to reach a wider audience.

The website would need to explain the attributes of a good leader and help people to understand the importance of moving away from the criteria many have used in the past such as:

1. Good Looking
2. Smooth Talking
3. Commanding Presence
4. Power Hungry
5. Idealistic
6. Good Communicator (or a rich and powerful daddy)

In Blink, Malcolm Gladwell talks about “thin slicing,” which is when our unconscious evaluates minute patterns in very short slices of time to reach a conclusion.  Unfortunately, this approach is subject to emotional preferences that are genetically engineered into us from much more savage times.  Gladwell even talks about the “Warren Harding Error.”  Harding was a man who met all the criteria in the preceeding list and none of the items on the first list.  He is considered by most to be one of the worst presidents we’ve ever had.  Yet, we elected him.

We elected him because a few men decided he should be put forth as a candidate.  He never would have survived the scrutiny of “the people” in the nominating process I propose.

Will people find a way to defraud my system?  Probably.  It’s always a war of attrition with power-hungry people.  We devise methods of screening them out – they devise methods of undermining the screen.  However, in a system where there are many legitimate people and a few frauds, we have a much better chance of getting a good leader than when they are all frauds.

Once we start getting good leaders, we’ll start receiving good messages.  This will change our thinking and eventually we can start to collectively get behind the activities we need to do to make Earth a better home for everyone.  It will take time, but the process cannot start without the right people to start it.  We haven’t got them yet.