Dr. Jordan Peterson, looking through the lenses of psychology and evolution, prescribes 12 Rules to find some meaning in life. Here, we are less prescriptive. We look through the lenses of individual economics and emerging technology, and find 10 themes to guide you towards a successful life.
1. The individual – and Individualism – will play a new and different role in the emerging socio-technical system, where humans are augmented by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
McKinsey suggests that we all develop durable “soft” or human skills for “what we are that computers aren’t”. This requires cultivation of a deep self-knowledge. Understand yourself first.
2. Augmentation will be activated via inter-connectivity – universal networked connection to people, knowledge, resources and sub-systems. There will be fewer built-in barriers, and inter-connectivity can benefit all individuals.
The most important question is not whether AI will displace and replace jobs, but whether we will use AI in ways that promote meaningful work and service to improve social impact and quality of life. The technology is neutral; our focus must be on how we will change as individuals in applying the technology for the benefit of us all.
3. Every individual must be an entrepreneur in the new socio-technical system. Our mindset for life must be that of a start-up: how to serve others in new and ever-changing ways, how to assemble resources to do so, how to stay on the leading edge to avoid replacement or redundancy.
In this context, the term “entrepreneur” takes on a new meaning. It is the attitude and method of attempting to identify future consumer needs and future opportunities for creating new value, and taking calculated action to realize those opportunities. Platforms such as LinkedIn, Alibaba, and Amazon Web Services and apps such as Knack, and crowd funding networks such as OurCrowd, enable entrepreneurial access to work, transactions, collaborative co-developers, self-directed career assessment, and to best-fit opportunity, as well as to capital to invest in creating the future.
The Entrepreneurial attitude is active management of your life path while bearing the future uncertainty, whether as business owner / founder or in another role. You will actively navigate your own career, making frequent changes and taking new pathways as you pursue new opportunities. In the course of your career you may have different roles: a corporate or government employee, a freelance contributor to projects and teams, or an entrepreneur. You will be at the center of your own media cloud, acting as your own editor, taking responsibility to be sure the news information you receive is useful, accurate, and aligned with your interests.
4. Empathy for the needs of others is at the core of the entrepreneurial mindset and the technology-augmented service ecosystem. The entrepreneur’s role is a moral one, making life better for all. The entrepreneur-driven dynamic system will generate a more just society that unleashes the creative innovation of its citizens.
Satya Nadella puts it this way: “Empathy, which is so difficult to replicate in machines, will be invaluable in the human-AI era. We can educate and up-skill the ability to perceive others’ thoughts and feelings, to collaborate and build relationships. If we hope to harness technology to serve human needs, we humans must lead the way by developing a deeper understanding and respect for one another’s values, cultures, emotions, and drives.
5. The individual must master systems thinking to understand how best to contribute and how best to fit in. The systems will be decentralized, distributed and democratized, and where innovation flourishes, so will the people in the broader community.
In commerce, for example, you can enter the new realm of global exchange. You’ll be able to sell services and goods worldwide on global exchange platforms that others have built – and which have been improved by continuous usage – to provide you with all the infrastructure you need to be a global retailer, writer, consultant, craftsperson, artist or philanthropist. You can market your talent globally, offer your expertise, or rent your dwellings. Platforms such as Etsy, Airbnb, Craigs List, and hundreds of new ones are enabling this infrastructure and providing a new organizational framework for global commerce between individuals
6. Spontaneous order will emerge – systems will self-organize as a result of empathetic individual behavior linked to other like-minded people. New organizational forms that we can’t imagine today will replace conventional and traditional institutions.
Spontaneous order is a self-organizing system that evolves from individuals and groups who can connect online. This emergent order depends on protocols and general rules that enable freedom to connect. Today, there is a new set of protocols in the form of concurrently maturing new technologies, providing universal access to resources, augmentation, disintermediation and global exchange platforms to unleash individual potential. Entrepreneurs will drive innovation through new sets of practices – especially Networking practices and Knowing practices. Innovation becomes a social capability – a shared doing facilitated by interconnections, and a socially constructed value creation.
7. Local and regional clusters of organizations and opportunities characterized by transparency will thrive and be magnets for inter-connected individuals.
We’ll find a diversity of social networks to join and to gather in support of our endeavors. When we need expert services, we’ll locate them on the network, and rate them through the level of utility they’ve provided to others prior to selecting them for ourselves. The “trust machine” that is emerging on the global exchange of blockchain will strengthen the ethics of interconnected communities. We’ll find high-trust interconnected social networks for every kind of collaborative work and knowledge sharing, and we’ll feel surrounded and supported by people and resources and reassurance. We will be able to shape or join multiple communities of interest and mutual support, working with those who form our “tribes” of shared passion, project collaboration and problem solving. We can participate in local activities in our communities, and virtual clusters online, navigating seamlessly between them.
8. Lifelong learning and lifelong up-skilling will become a normal practice. Each person can understand his or her own aptitudes as a first step to building a lifelong work-plan and lifelong pursuit of opportunities.
Having a start-up mindset is the necessary approach to transforming a career in this emergent, turbulent era. Entrepreneurial career planning requires being flexible, persistent, and proactive for opportunities.
Lifelong learning for new skills and working with augmentation will be necessary, but not sufficient. Your learning plan should include both hard skills (like technologies, project management) and soft skills (listening, critiquing, facilitating, coaching, leading). New fields and career job skills are coming into existence in less time that it takes to get a traditional degree, so less than four years. You might need to know a skill that did not even exist when you started your degree program. There will be a technological solution to this particular problem, and that is to create a set of open standards that allow us to describe education in a common language. We can use the same sort of mechanism that we use for any other data system to provide much more real-time feedback.
9. New metrics will replace productivity measures (such as GDP and quarterly corporate profit – the leveraging of human labor) with connectivity measures, the enabling of access and collaboration for new opportunities and approaches to meaningful work in an augmented intelligence world.
From an individual viewpoint, you must be able to answer these future-oriented questions about your potential: Can I learn to do certain things, and can I learn quickly, and effectively? Am I driven to learn? Will I learn better than someone else? Can I learn at the rate that the market demands that I learn? Those are going to be the key metrics. Learning is one of those attributes of behavioral potential, along with your drive and curiosity to learn and then apply that knowledge.
10. Self-reliance, networks, lifelong learning and values-based transitions will support a purpose driven life, aligning individuals with what matters to them.
We already live in a service economy. Service is the application of knowledge for the benefit of others. The empathic entrepreneur is constantly searching for ways to better help consumers and customers; with their efforts, improvements in the quality of life are faster, broader and deeper. A conscious individual will seek to align his/her values with their work—not just for self-fulfillment, but also to benefit others.
A.I. is enabling software that applies knowledge to perform a task as well or better than a person. Most tasks in a modern economy that are based on human knowledge and technical expertise will, over time, be performed better with A.I. That means that service, the science of helping people, will be elevated to new levels of availability, reliability and efficacy. Everyone will get more and better help.
We should be optimistic.
This latest curve in history will reveal new vistas and new pathway to success for those who strive to seize the opportunities available to them. Such striving is nothing new: it is human endeavor, built on old principles of individual intelligence, recognizing new circumstances, applying innovation, and finding different ways of thinking and organizing
 “The Trust Machine,” The Economist, October 31, 2015, print edition.
Adapted from The Interconnected Individual, a forthcoming book by Hunter Hastings and Jeff Saperstein, from Business Expert Press.