When people like Google CEO, Larry Page, Virgin’s Richard Branson, and X-Prize Foundation CEO, Peter Diamandis, talk about us entering into a period of abundance, there has been a natural tendency to assume we’ll be entering into a life of leisure. People won’t have to work as hard and we will all have more time for travel, vacations, and play.
Yes, we are entering into a world where driverless vehicles will eliminate millions of driving positions; robotic systems will work relentlessly day and night eliminating millions of manufacturing, welding, painting, and assembly positions; and things that seemed impossible to automate in the past will have computers and machines replacing people’s jobs.
With these types of automation and AI (artificial intelligence) replacing human involvement, the discussion has focused on solutions like shared jobs, micro employment, and guaranteed income.
While those may be options, there’s also great danger in preparing for “slacker lifestyles” where people feel less significant, less certain about their future, and less connected to the value they have to offer. As a society we risk becoming soft and lazy.
There is great value in the human struggle, and when we fail to be challenged, our best-laid plans tend to fall apart at the seams.
Today, the amount of time it takes to build ships and skyscrapers, create massive data storage centers for all our growing volumes of information, or produce global wireless networks for all our devices has dropped significantly. But along with each of these drops is a parallel increase in our capabilities and our expectations.
For these reasons, I’d like to reframe the discussion by proposing the following “Laws of Exponential Capabilities”:
LAW #1: With automation, every exponential decrease in effort creates an equal and opposite exponential increase in capabilities.
LAW #2: As today’s significant accomplishments become more common, mega-accomplishments will take their place.
LAW #3: As we raise the bar for our achievements, we also reset the norm for our expectations.
Here’s why this is so critically important.