Most of us were introduced to robots in our youth through characters such as Rosie, the outdated housekeeper on The Jetsons, or the true hero of Star Wars R2D2. These images helped us associate robots with comfort, usefulness, and loyalty. As teens, we learned robots could be more sinister the first time we laid eyes on the Terminator or iRobot. As we move into adulthood and out into the business world, we discover that, of course, neither of these images are accurate. Robots are simply as Webster defines them, "automatic device that performs functions normally ascribed to humans or a machine in the form of a human." Robots are an enormous part of the future of work which includes artificial intelligence (AI) and automation.
AI and automation have evolved from besting a chess champion and the automatic handling of metal car parts to Alexa and drone delivery. We are impacted by this evolution every day from self-checkouts to autopilot vehicles.
We can not escape technology it is everywhere-in our homes and businesses. Technology makes our lights "smart", and our business practices more efficient. But what are we sacrificing for the convenience and ease of technology? What are we giving up to the robots?
There seem to be two camps when it comes to technology-those who believe technology is good. It connects us and will free us to solve the world's problems while giving us the time and space to answer existential questions like why am I here? What's most important? The other group believes technology is terrible. It collects and stores our information and data. People will become utterly reliant on it. The robots will take over then "it's the end of the world as we know it."
In reality, technology is both, it does feed our personal information into unknown databases, but it also allows us to stay connected, explore, and express.
Facebook announced recently that they were creating a more immersive internet experience called the metaverse [not to be confused with the Multiverse for any Marvel Fans out there]. This new experience boasts a more present, connected feeling across the interwebs. The metaverse will allow people to "teleport" via hologram anywhere they want. This one really got me excited; I've always dreamed of a world where I could simply close my eyes and teleport to another place-skipping the TSA lines, traffic jams, and rest stops-but the teleportation promised is less of actual teleporting and more of projection.
While this new future sounds intriguing, it does have a bit of a Skynet feel-waiting for Arnold to show up. Seriously though, this advanced technological future seems to have everything automation so that we can spend more time doing the things we love, less time in traffic, and lower carbon emissions, but it also has fewer products being made, less humanity, and less heart. After all, how present and connected can we feel staring through a screen?
Since COVID has invaded our world, we have spent nearly two years trying to be present and connected through screens. Most of the global workforce moved to virtual offices, with major corporations continually pushing back returning to the office. Just a few months ago, companies such as Google, LinkedIn, and Apple announced a January 2022 return to office-but as yet another variant has been discovered mosts companies are now favoring a "wait and see" approach.
In this time, families and friends have been socially distanced, forgoing holiday celebrations for Zoom chats and drive-by parades. Some children have not set foot in a school in nearly two years. They have not swung from the jungle gym, played tag with friends, or engaged in classroom discussions.
We have attempted to be present and connected through screens for the past two years because that was the safest option to protect our physical health. However, the absence of in-person connection and truly being present in a room with another human has taken a tremendous toll on our mental health.
Fear, uncertainty, doubt [FUD], and volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity [VUCA] have impacted everyone in some aspects. We are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression, and stress than ever before. In fact, US workers are among the most stressed globally, according to Gallup's State of the Global Workforce report. Burnout is at an all-time high, with 76% of workers admitting to experiencing burnout.
Burnout leads to loss of productivity, lack of innovation, and creativity. It is also responsible for:
Technology has allowed us to continue to operate our businesses through a global pandemic but with the exponential changes that keep coming, DH CEO and best-selling author Jenn Lim says, "It's never been more important to double-down on the human traits that artificial intelligence [and technology] doesn't have in order to move forward, like empathy, kindness, ethics, and the ability to solve problems from a more human way."
This is reframing artificial intelligence into adaptive intelligence in a positive way, being able to feel that no matter what comes our way, we can adapt. That's where the intelligence part comes in, being able to adapt the right things. We as humans need to be adaptive more than ever because there is no telling what will happen next. The most considerable power that we have is to be able to adapt. As Darwin said, " It is not the strongest species that survive, not the most intelligent but the ones most responsive to change."
Facebook is adapting and evolving into Meta, which was translated from an ancient Greek word for beyond. This symbolizes the move to the next chapter of their story.
While turning the page is vital in the evolution of a company, beyond has a different meaning at DH. Beyond Happiness means holding a mirror to ourselves as leaders, executives, and humans in order to be authentic and true to ourselves so that we can become more resilient. Going beyond is helpful to organizational leaders to help build companies and teams where people will want to stay, want to be loyal, and will actually be more productive.
Going beyond is imperative to individuals because it helps us build lives in which we are grounded in our purpose and values so that no matter what FUD or VUCA comes along, we will be resilient enough to not only survive the challenges but thrive in them.