Last week I watched the Netflix Doc The Great Hack. It made me consider how our minds and decisions are increasingly being manipulated, not just with elections. I fear we are surrendering our curiosity, questioning and decision making capacity to machines that increasingly learn how to understand us, affect us and direct us.
This made me reflect on the imperative for curiosity. Does this seem like a non sequitur? Ok, let me expand.
Let’s start with Einstein.
Einstein said he was not a genius just passionately curious
In Episode 8 I interviewed Dave Birss. In Dave’s – Book How to Get to Great Ideas – Dave cites divergence as a crucial skill and references Einsteins youthful disruption in class; his failure to shine and divergence from the classroom norm that resulted in the failure and rejection, that in turn enabled him to to continue pursuing his unconventional thinking and thought experiments…without which he would not have developed his theory of relativity.
If curiosity is a vital ingredient to invention and discovery I’d adapt the quote we have used many times to this
‘success is not final, failure is not fatal, it’s having the curiosity and courage to continue that counts’
And maybe that is why in today’s world many autocratic consider curiosity to be a threat, challenging and disruptive.
So this made me think more about disruption.
We all strive for disruptive ideas in our industries as we to seek out competitive advantage, yet we discourage, marginalize or penalize the disruptors in our classrooms, schools, and universities, as we attempt to mold the unconventional to follow conventional thinking and suppress creativity. Ken Robinson was so right with his seminal 2006 TED talk.
Why is curiosity and creativity more important than ever?
Reality check: We live in a world that rewards specialization. As armies of digital specialists expand to fuel and power digital factories and output in a way that mirrors the specialisms of the Industrial Age, and the methods of Frederick Winslow Taylor’s scientific management approach, we need to face the near and present danger that AI and machine learning pose.
As AI encroaches on all industries, we as individuals need to cultivate new skills and knowledge to empower our ability to evolve and develop new creative domain experience and expertise we will need to remain relevant and employable in a world where new abilities, skills and jobs, and maybe never before imagined, will emerge.
Curiosity is our passport stamp to future survival.
We need to reconnect with that wondrous childlike curiosity where we seek to learn more and question everything, especially the status quo.
As algorithms increasingly influence and determine our decisions, based on recommendations, and as bad actors strive to hack our hearts and feelings, we humans are at risk of becoming the programmable automatons, slaves to the machines we have built.
An algorithmically curated world hinders divergent thinking. We are no longer exploring if we are served up everything.
Curiosity is an innately human act of rebellion against these machines-driven and dictated recommender decision engines.
Curiosity and non-conformist thinking must become our ultimate, inalienable and final human right. The freedom of thought, to wonder, and discover, through serendipity. The right to question and ask why? Or Why not? To challenge the answers we are given.
We need the courage to dare, to desire and delight in being different, to seek out, summon and surround ourselves with those vital sparks that start a cascade of creativity, feed our yearning for learning, and delight in divergence.
So I leave you with this, I call on you all to activate, accentuate and accelerate your innate curiosity, to fuel creativity in yourself, your teams and most importantly your children.
To embrace and apply empathy, as our guest No4 Michael Ventura purports, as this will bring us together as humans.
To dare to dream big ideas, to seek the impossible, and be prepared to collaborate with people you might never imagine and you explore paths toward making your own ideas, little or big, possible.
That’s all for now folks – see you next week.