only humans need apply – review

In Only Humans Need Apply, the authors identify five ways that people can adapt to automation and intelligent machines. They call it ‘stepping’. I have added in parentheses the main attributes I think are needed for each option.

  • Step-up: directing the machine-augmented world (creativity)
  • Step-in: using machines to augment work (deep thinking)
  • Step-aside: doing human work that machines are not suited for (empathy)
  • Step narrowly: specializing narrowly in a field too small for augmentation (passion)
  • Step forward: developing new augmentation systems (curiosity)


immunize for complexity

Have you heard the term VUCA? It comes from the 1990’s but is still in use to describe the complex and chaotic world of business, politics, and technology.

  • Volatility
  • Uncertainty
  • Complexity
  • Ambiguity

Peter Hinnsen, in The Network Always Wins, describes the antidote to VUCA as VACINE.

  • Velocity
  • Agility
  • Creativity
  • Innovation
  • Network
  • Experimentation


chaos & cooperation

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds. I am finishing three weeks in Europe so many of these posts reflect the interactions I had in Copenhagen, London, and Antwerp.

@umairh: “Fascism counts on you. Not on your support. But on your denial.

@meacoopa: “every liberal democracy realizes early on there are some positions which must prima facie be aggressively excluded from public discourse … Fascism wriggles into democracies by insisting on the right to be heard, achieves critical mass, then dissolves the organs that installed it.”

@dabeard: No science, no evidence, no truth, no democracy

@SwiftonSecurity: “Trust me – modern information systems are a panopticon you are not qualified to defeat alone. Journalists are a very valuable resource here.”

@yonatanzunger: “Something you can do: Write down what happens in the news every day. Keeping a notebook helps remember, see trends, avoid gaslighting.”

Seth Godin: “Blogging is free. What matters is the meta-cognition of thinking about what you’re going to say…” via @dorait (more…)

we need faith in the future

This evening I will be presenting a session on Working in Perpetual Beta, at Implement Consulting in Copenhagen. I will be discussing the economic, technological, and communication shifts that are driving us to become a networked society. But as I mentioned in my last post, the Tribal form is posing a significant threat to the development of what David Ronfeldt calls a Quadriform society. This would be a society that includes Tribal, Institutional, and Market organizations, co-existing with dominant network organizations.

But at this time there are few positive network era organization examples to give inspiration to others. We are stuck between the Market and the Network era, with significant yearnings in certain sectors to go back to our insular Tribal ways. While the Tribal form may be comforting, its structure threatens the foundations of democracy. (more…)

tribal values are not democratic

David Ronfeldt, originator of the TIMN framework (Tribes + Institutions + Markets + Networks) has written a series of posts on what current political changes mean from this perspective.

“— From a TIMN perspective, the reasons for ‘American exceptionalism’ lie mainly in our approach to the T form. We have welcomed immigrants and found ways to enable people from all backgrounds and orientations to live together. Trumpish tribalism will undermine that basis of American exceptionalism, especially if he and his cohorts claim to be restoring it.

— TIMN implies that malignant tribalization will make our society far more vulnerable to information warfare. The ultimate goal of strategic information warfare at the societal level, whether waged by foreign or domestic actors, is to tribalize a society, the better to divide and conquer it.

— According to TIMN, America is moving into a new/next phase of social evolution — it’s evolving from a triform into a quadriform society. Just what the addition of a +N sector will mean is far from clear, and this is not the place to elaborate. But I do want to note that Trumpish tribalism, if it doesn’t abate, seems likely to imperil the prospects for getting to +N for years to come (though I can also see opportunities arising in some respects). ” —David Ronfeldt


bike friday

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds. I am currently in Copenhagen, the most bicycle friendly city in the world. This edition is dedicated to one of my favourite activities.

Math myth-busting some of our worst urban planning misconceptions,  via @mobi_bikes

“A common political argument is that bike and transit riders should ‘pay their own way’. A study in Vancouver however suggested that for every dollar we individually spend on walking, society pays just 1 cent. For biking, it’s eight cents, and for bus-riding, $1.50. But for every personal dollar spent driving, society pays a whopping $9.20! Such math makes clear where the big subsidies are, without even starting to count the broader environmental, economic, spatial and quality-of-life consequences of our movement choices. The less people need to drive in our cities, the less we all pay, in more ways than one.” (more…)

mediated relatedness

I gave a presentation on ‘Understanding Media for Learner Engagement’ to the UNL Extension network yesterday. It was based on McLuhan’s laws of media which I have discussed many times here since 2004 (communication in evolution) and more recently (taking back our society).

One effect of the network era, and its pervasive digital connections, is that networks are replacing or subverting more traditional hierarchies. Three aspects of this effect are access to almost unlimited information, the ability for almost anyone to self-publish, and limitless opportunities for ridiculously easy group-forming. (more…)

the learning loop

John Boyd’s OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) was developed as a framework to help pilots make better decisions in battle. Since its inception in the 1970’s it has been adapted for other areas of operations, including business.

“Decision makers gather information (observe), form hypotheses about customer activity and the intentions of competitors (orient), make decisions, and act on them. The cycle is repeated continuously. The aggressive and conscious application of the process gives a business advantage over a competitor who is merely reacting to conditions as they occur or has poor awareness of the situation. Especially in business, in which teams of people are working the OODA Loop, it often gets stuck at the “D” (see Ullman) and no action is taken allowing the competition to gain the upper hand or resources to be wasted.” —Wikipedia

I came across the OODA Loop while in the military and have referred to it a few times, but it was not a major influence on my own thinking, or so I thought. (more…)

democracy anew

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

“Democracy has to be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife.” —John Dewey (1916)

@SamuelPepys: “To the Coffee-house, and sat long in good discourse with some gentlemen concerning the Roman Empire.”

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights

Article 1

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.


innovation in perpetual beta

The perpetual beta working model tries to show how work and learning are related as we negotiate various types of networks to get new ideas, test them out, and innovate how we work. We  seek, sense, and share knowledge in different social circumstances, sometimes with strangers and other times with close and trusted colleagues. Our social networks can help us increase our awareness of new ideas. We can test alternative models and concepts between trusted members in communities of practice, if we have the luck or foresight of being actively engaged in one. Then in our workplaces we take action on the new knowledge we have developed from our looser-knit networks. (more…)