Seizing Our Singularity Future: An Entrepreneur’s Guide (Digital Copy)
The essays in this volume were developed for a course on “Exponential Technologies and Business Opportunities in the Age of Singularity” by Transdisciplinary Agora for Future Discussions Inc (TAFFD), for the Tekedia Institute as part of a Mini Masters of Business Administration program. The lead facilitator was Prof. Ndubuisi Ekekwe. The texts were accompanied by videos by each instructor. But TAFFD rightly judges through the advice of Tekedia Institute that these valuable materials should be offered to a much wider audience, hence this book!
While the audience was initially African, this volume will offer information and insights that will benefit any individuals in any country who care about their own lives and futures, and about the future of their families, friends, neighbors and, countries.
Exponential Technology and Individuals
Future-oriented individuals today rightly celebrate the advent of exponential technology. They see it ushering in a world of almost undreamed-of prosperity with healthy, long, even transhuman lives for all. They understand how the convergence of developments in communications and information, biotech, nanotech, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotics make possible applications that can make life in the future better than ever in human history. They even imagine, with reason, that these technologies could lead to a “Singularity,” defined by Ray Kurzweil as “a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed.”
But such technology does not grow, like crops, out of the ground. Rather, it grows out of the minds of innovative individuals and teams of individuals. It is the result of a convergence of virtues that individuals cultivate in themselves: rationality, vision, optimism, purpose, self-confidence, imagination, entrepreneurship, thoughtfulness, and self-reflection. These virtues are essential for all human achievements. Exponential individuals create exponential technologies!
The Soil of in Which Technology Grows
Today, exponential technologies flourish most in certain hotbeds, Silicon Valley in the United States most notably. But the good news for countries that until now have been technological deserts is that because the above virtues know no national boundaries, we know those technologies and applications, with all their benefits, can flourish anywhere.
This is especially good news for the countries and people of Africa. In centuries past, Western European countries and the United States led the way into our modern era with the Enlightenment values of reason and individual liberty, and the Industrial Revolution, with an explosion of wealth creation that has been vanquishing the poverty that has been humanity’s lot from the beginning. After World War II, Asian countries and a handful of others joined the productivity and prosperity club.
A New Tyranny
But Africa, sadly, had, for the most part, stayed behind. This was in part due to some of the abuses that the continent suffered under rule by imperialist countries. But in the half-century, since African countries gained independence from those European powers, their economies and societies have continued to flounder. This was even in spite of the infrastructure—electricity, roads, and the like—that some of those powers left behind, the natural resources some of those countries possessed, and the billions of dollars in aid and loans poured into those countries.
The economic policies that stifled the creative spirit of the people of those countries were certainly to blame. Worse, there had developed a “tyranny of low expectation.” Whether they admitted it or not, elites both in the developed world and even in African countries themselves, have harbored the view that Africans, really, just cannot make it on their own, that they are children who almost always fail and, thus, will always need help. But those who treat adults like children will subtly plant in their own minds this self-defeating and false belief, and those people will not aspire to the best they can and should be in their own lives and societies.
Paths to Exponential Success
But we have solid evidence that this belief is false. To begin with, many Africans are successful in their own countries when they are afforded the opportunities. Further, they are successful when they emigrate to the country in our world that, despite any faults, is still a Land of Opportunity: The United States. We see, for example, African immigrants especially active in providing healthcare services in the U.S.
In 1925, as America was growing into the world’s most prosperous country, President Calvin Coolidge said that the “chief business of the American people is business.” He was right. It was the creation of wealth, spearheaded by investors and entrepreneurs like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, that made America the world’s richest country, and the destination of millions of immigrants who wanted the opportunity to prosper through their own efforts, to build lives for themselves, and to reflect on themselves with quiet pride that they were the best they could and should be in their own lives and societies.
Innovative, business-savvy entrepreneurs are the ones who must lead wealth creation in Africa. Those with an entrepreneurial drive and vision that can provide the leadership in non-profits, public policy research groups, and non-governmental organizations that are needed to spearhead institutional, infrastructure, and socio-cultural change.
Those who forge within themselves what it takes to succeed in business or in these other worthy arenas will find the timing perfect for their endeavors. This is because of the advent of exponential technologies. They will find tools and opportunities unavailable and even unimaginable until recent years that will help them accomplish in perhaps a few short years what others might have taken decades to accomplish if at all.
Four Profitable Parts
This volume contains four essays by four different authors, including your current commentator. Some of the materials in these essays necessarily overlap. This is because each one, as courses with accompanying videos, was meant to be viewed and studied individually, and not in a particular sequence. But this is a strength of the essays because each takes a unique approach to the materials. Indeed, we tend to truly learn or understand a subject or issue better when we avoid a “linear” approach, simply downloading information into our brains. We learn best when we consider ideas from particular and unique perspectives and contexts, revisiting them as our knowledge and information grow. Our understanding becomes more subtle, sophisticated, and integrated.