Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Singularity

By Tom Voccola

According to the February 2011 issue of TIME Magazine, a group of accomplished scientists and futurists are predicting that mankind is rushing toward an event horizon called the Singularity, at which time they claim the human species will have the technological capacity to somehow merge with computers to literally become "immortal".

Lunacy? Maybe, but it looks as though many of us will be around to see whether it all pans out, since Singularity experts say it'll be a done deal by about 2045. Says Verner Vinge, author of the book
The Coming Technological Singularity, “Within 30 years we will have the means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.”

Typical reactions to this type of pronouncement range from disbelief to visceral sensations of alarm. Who do these people think they are? Mad scientists run amuck? Super-sized egos playing God? Are they actively working to make humanity irrelevant, by replacing us with machines they believe are superior?

In my view, science is proceeding not because it should, but because it can. Researchers flatly declare that technology cannot be stopped; if they don’t advance these concepts on behalf of humanity, others with less benevolent intentions will. The thought of this kind of capability, in the hands of Ego, is quite frightening; the creation of Cylons, Terminators, Borgs and our worst nightmares could be just around the corner.

I would argue that a better approach to finally unleashing the full potential of humankind is not by using artificial means, but rather, through raising the consciousness of humanity itself and helping us to achieve our natural potential. To help human beings mature and gain the wisdom necessary to meet the great challenges of our time, we’ll need to not only survive, but to thrive and prosper. To succeed, it means that we must consciously decide, individually, as well as collectively, what we truly want for our lives, our children, and our future. And then
stay true to our word.

Sound easy? Then what stops us?

In my work with leaders, I've observed that, by far, the biggest obstacle to individuals and organizations achieving their goals is their inability to stay focused and follow through
on what they declare they want. Ironic, isn’t it, that the goals we say we want to reach, the dreams we dearly yearn to attain, are what we tend to self-sabotage the most.

Energy always follows focus. This is a universal truth. Yet individually and collectively, we human beings allow our energy to be dissipated by external and internal distractions to the point where we become ineffective in our lives, our relationships and our endeavors.

Think about it. As a Leader, what is your #1 goal, your heartfelt dream? Then consider. How much “noise” do you have in your life that distracts, delays and slowly, insidiously wiggles its way between what you hope to achieve and what you actually complete each day? How many shifting priorities come at you from all sides? Massive distractions like war, politics and economic instability cause disruption on a global scale. Lesser distractions derail us just as easily from within our immediate spheres, like workplace politics, interpersonal conflict, traffic delays or simply getting hooked by the next e-mail, text message, phone call or news broadcast. But the things that really paralyze us come from inside our own psyche, like feelings of overwhelm, fear, anger, depression, inadequacy and stress.

Experts say that the level of harmful stress that the average person lives with is growing exponentially; our fight or flight responses are now triggered primarily by imagined or internalized threats rather than genuine peril from our environment. In ages past, our ancestors had to run from dangerous predators. But today we are unconsciously running from intangibles every moment of every day, while supplements like caffeine help keep the adrenaline flowing constantly – interrupted briefly by inadequate periods of sleep.

Of course, lack of focus and follow-through is a stumbling block for all of humanity, not just Leaders. Our species, through its curious mix of politics, economics and greed, has led us to focus on the symptom rather than the cure. (After all, how much more economically viable do you think it is to treat a symptom than a cure? You get the picture.) So when faced with an issue, people are well conditioned to pile on more activities and layers of distraction in a futile attempt to make the symptoms go away. In this example, stress is a symptom – so why not sign up for classes and activities designed to provide stress relief? A calendar of unfulfilled commitments is a symptom, so let’s add a workshop and some audio CDs on time management. A life or career that is unfulfilling is a symptom, so let’s start looking into the next big network marketing idea that’s supposed to put us on the road to multiple streams of income.

Now, I don’t have anything against relaxation, time management or multiple streams of income — IF they are an integral part of you fulfilling your true Destiny and playing
your Game Worth Playing.

So let’s just skip the symptoms and start
there, with the cure. What is YOUR Purpose? Your Passion? Your Game Worth Playing? Articulate that, clearly and succinctly, and all other priorities and decisions fall much more easily into place. If you already have clarity on this foundational step, congratulations! You can advance to the next stage and focus on gaining personal Mastery, which will be my topic next month.

Very few of us are likely to change the course of human events by pioneering a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. But all of us can work toward unleashing humanity’s true potential the natural way, beginning with ourselves. We have the tools, the technology, the experience and the teachers to help us uncover and unleash our own Purpose and Passions in life.

So how many of you want to come along with me in ushering a kind of Singularity of our own? I believe, through clarity of Purpose and Self-Mastery, we can truly experience ourselves as powerful, effective, loving Humans Being fulfilled, not just Humans Doing the same things over and over again expecting a different outcome.

And that, my friends — a planet filled with humans Being their potential — is a future that machines can only dream of.

Yours on the Journey,

Tom Voccola