Today's key trend
Key elements



Mind-extension strategy
What is it?  

Distilled from parallel developments during the transition to the industrial age, the winning strategy today is to --

Concede to electronic intelligence the functions it does best, and get better at the special kind of mentality that sets humans apart.

This unique human mentality may be called "metamind" or "meta-consciousness" and it includes meta-conscious modes of creativity, intentionality, choice, and social interaction.

Just what is "metamind" ?  

"Meta" means "over" or "above," and metamind or meta-consciousness is simply thinking how to think instead of just thinking. It also includes noticing and channeling our feelings instead of letting them take the reins and drive us as they will.

When we're in the "meta" mode we get a step above our thoughts, perceptions and feelings. We consciously experience the fact that we're experiencing, thereby gaining control over the mentality that determines our actions, which in turn produce consequences. Mature metamind is fully-developed self-consciousness, bordering on a wider state that might be called "universal consciousness."

Why hone metamind now?  

The urgent need to enhance metamind needs a bit of explaining, for meta-consciousness may seem abstract and unrelated to everyday activities. The need for immediate leveraging and enhancement of metamind also requires a look at the history of the past hundred years or so.

During the rise of the industrial age, our muscle power got augmented and replaced by machinery.

Now, during the infancy of the information age, our mental powers are being augmented and replaced. This has serious implications for organizations and people in all industries, occupations and walks of life.

Electronic technology is rapidly taking over industrial-age tasks -- not just blue-colar ones but those performed by office workers, managers, professional people, teachers, doctors, researchers, just about everyone.

The musclepower-into-machinery shift displaced many people and disrupted many organizations as well as society as a whole. In the end, we came out okay; we did it by shifting from muscle-based work and muscle-dominated lifestyles to knowhow-based work and knowledge-dominated lifestyles. This shift was an excellent coping strategy for those who implemented it intentionally and aggressively. The "early-adopters" did very well, becomming the new affluent middle class, wealthy industrialists, and privileged professionals. Others suffered severe dislocation and the pain of involuntary adjustment.

What's the right "shift" for the information age?  

Looking back at the successful shift during the industrial age, the question naturally arises, "What kind of shift do we need to make now to profit from today's sea change?"

How can we avoid being swamped and instead positively adjust to, positively manage, and profit from the transferrence of mental functions into electronics?

The old stratery won't work now; we can't shift to different knowledge-based work -- even work that involves high-level scientific or scholarly knowledge.

Knowledge or knowhow is the very thing that's now being transferred into our new electronic creations -- from smart networks and systems to facile microchips implanted in devices everywhere.

What's left?

What's there to shift to -- as individuals or as companies, institutions, or governmental bodies? First our muscles were augmented and replaced; now our minds are being augmented and replaced. That leaves zero left. Right?

Wrong. There's something left. And we can and must shift to it. That something is to be found in a comparison of what humans inherently do best versus what electronic systems inherently do best (at least for the next few decades).

How we outshine our creations:  

What, exactly, are we best at, and where to our creations leave us in the dust?

Humans excel at …

E-systems excel at …

META-CONSCIOUSNESS, or self-aware, self-controlled --

  • Perception & action or motor activity
  • Love & other emotions
  • Logical activities:
    • Goal & priority setting
    • Creativity & imagination
    • Decision making
    • Planning & execution
    • Hypothesizing & cause finding
  • Social skills including ethics & responsibility

PRE-DEFINED OPERATIONS, or functions conceived by humans --

  • Number crunching and routine logic
  • Mass storage and retrieval
  • Remote sensing & control
  • Structured or routine decision making
  • Control of repetitive processes
  • Simple or labor-intensive instruction

NOTE: Through artitificial intelligence or A.I., computers are beginning to assume complex cognitive and even "creative" tasks. However, A.I. is not even close to achieving simple consciousness let alone the self-aware meta-consciousness that gives rise to insight and inspiration, qualitative priority setting, caring, responsibility -- all that makes humans human.

Too often technologists and business people confuse logical intelligence with humanity.

We're more than wet calculators. Our uniqueness is found in our aliveness, and our aliveness comes from meta-consciousness.

The possibility of creating "human," self-aware devices is not being disputed here. Electronic consciousness and meta-consciousness may be possible or even inevitable. Pouring massive resources into A.I. projects with this focus, however, only makes sense for humans wishing to replace most other humans.

Strengthening our strengths:  

The mind-extension strategy is quite simple. It's also quite sensible for all employers, policy makers, and innovators who wish to create an information age worth living in.

Knowhow is going into electronic systems and going there fast, and it's a permanent one-way flow. The key is not to fight the flow but to let it gush. The mistake is to assume, through knee-jerk management and employment policies, that all people are good for, beyond their muscle power, is their knowhow.

Increasingly, the winning economies, companies, and public institutions will be those that act on this critical insight:

People are good for something other than knowledge, experience or skills (knowhow). They are good for mental qualities and functions that electronic systems cannot at present begin to challenge.

The winning organizations will develop policies and programs that implement this insight. The over-arching strategy will be twofold:

  1. Keep transferring knowhow tasks into electronics including complex A.I. systems, but draw the line at human replacement. Human replacement is already starting to backfire in the form of employee unrest and disloyalty, customer dissatisfaction, unethical management, and social aberations ranging from addiction to terrorism.

  2. Pour massive resources into creating organizations, jobs, products, and services based on meta-conscious realities. Also pour resources into the of honing human meta-consciousness for the new more human forms of employment and consumer behavior. Get with the information-age program. Move everything into the next "higher" realm of work and life, the realm above the knowhow realm.

What, exactly, is there to leverage and strengthen? What are the elements of metamind?

Copyright 2001 EraNova Institute