How do we learn lessons from the past? How can we leave behind our global problems and create a new era for humanity? What are the technologies and behaviors we need to adapt to make sustainable change, and how do we bring all that back to the people who can take action to change the world? These are the questions polymath tech Futurist Adah Parris has been grappling with in the face of the challenges we have today. In this episode of the Boldy Now show, Adah shines a light on these questions and gives us ways to recognize new patterns that can lead to a better future.
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Full Show Notes
The episode starts with a discussion on what it means to be a futurist. Adah gives a detailed insight into the term and how she came to be recognized as one. A futurist systematically explores the present to predict the future while considering the past. However, a futurist doesn't just have to be a mere predictor of patterns. The real task of a Futurist is to create stories that can help humanity pull into a better future.
Adah is also a systems thinker. Her framework “Cyborg Shamanism” provides a lens through which we can look at the world and decode everything that happens around us. Cyborg Shamanism consists of five phases:
1. Leave – First Phase: How do we leave these problems/ old ways behind?
2. Breathe – Second Phase: How can we remove these tensions in the system to create a hypothesis for change?
3. Grow – Third Phase: What are the tools/technologies/rituals/behaviors to try to make this true? (i.e., How to stress test it)
4. Flow – Fourth Phase: Thinking long-term, what type of answers make it sustainable?
5. Ground – Fifth Phase: How do we ground that down to create a sense of kinship?
All living systems are self-operating mechanisms. But, we always learn some lessons in one world that can be brought into the other. Binaries create competition and division. Whether it's spirituality, philosophy, physics, mechanics, or metaphysics, bringing different worlds together can help humanity cooperate rather than compete.
Today, we need new technologies that are capitalistic but still provide a positive impact on humanity and the world. We need businesses that operate less like machines and more as living organisms. There's a lot to learn from nature. We can replicate how nature creates no waste. Perhaps a new hierarchy of needs would be appropriate in which the base level is “We” rather than “I." The rules of the game have already been broken by COVID. It's the right time to shift and change and create new, better and sustainable technologies.
The same can be said about our political systems. We are still using a 100-200 years old top-down authoritarian approach to manage countries. Our politics is politics of divide and conquer. However, borders have become more fluid in this digital day and age. Organizations have become more influential like we see different organizations taking steps about vaccine passports. Humanity needs to figure out how to stop technology from enabling these old colonial structures.
An important question – in this regard – is to ask yourself, "What type of ancestors do you want to be?" At any moment, we are already an ancestor for the next generations. If anything, the pandemic has shown that we are all in this together. If we are to survive, we have to survive together. If we are to thrive, we have to thrive together. Therefore, we need to change our storytelling framework, recognize the value a person brings and take a more altruistic approach to tackle problems.
The biggest lottery in the world is where we are born. Think about it, we don't choose our nationality or race. Luck gives some of us an unfair advantage and deprives others. Racism is a strategy to maintain the same process of colonization and colonialism. So when the system offers preferential treatment, we need to recognize our privilege and think about a positive contribution. The more people recognize their privilege, the more things will change.
This brings us to the final question, what’s the solution to disentangle this Gordian knot? Answer: Make people think. Make them think differently. Value those who are born different. Appreciate those who think differently. Everyone can become a critical thinker, problem-solver, innovator, and futurist. It's just that we don't lean in on these abilities. Only through collective efforts will we leave a better world for our future generations. In the final moments of the podcast, Adiah talks about her latest venture, "Living Library." It’s an attempt to look deeply at micro and meta-narratives, i.e., how we use words to validate ourselves.
● [00:47] – Adah Parris Introduction
● [01:30] – What is a Futurist
● [06:11] – Cyborg Shamanism
● [12:04] How to look for technologies that are a capitalistic but still positive impact on each other and the world
● [18:00] Technologizing of human beings
● [23:54] The need for a living systems approach
● [25:40] political systems in the digital age
● [31:32] money, philanthropy, and effective altruism
● [34:44] The need for a new storytelling approach
● [42:17] The biggest lottery in the world
● [50:30] How to change?
● [55:10] Adah’s Future Project: Living library
Technology is not just something digital or algorithmic. It comes from the words of crafts, art, and process. So we have always had some form of tech. We may not recognize them as back. It is just that they weren’t digital.
We, as a society, tend to get stuck in binaries.
Its everybody’s responsibility to make sure the planet is safe.
Are you gonna be the next Facebook? We have already got those. Why need more?
The pandemic has enabled us to recognize that people need each other.
We have to change our approach to understanding how we operate.
I think we need to be fluid, agile, and ready to adapt to be proactive rather than reactive when something happens.
The goal of a caterpillar is not to win the game of leaf-eating. It's to play out its lifecycle… contribute become butterfly which contributes to pollination, which contributes to more butterflies…
Systems themselves continue to replicate themselves, almost as if the survival of ideology is more important than the flourishing of the people. – Michael Shaun Conaway
The link between colonialism, capitalism, and climate change is the ego.
The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think but to give you questions to think upon.
Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I A Woman?
Maslow Hierarchy of Needs
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