“Why Building Relationships may be the only Soft Skill You Need” By Zafar Khizer

There was a recent survey of millennials asking them what their most important life goals were, and over 80 percent said that a major life goal for them was to get rich. And another 50 percent of those same young adults said that their other major life goal was to become famous. But according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development by Harvard, the clearest message from the study is: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.

So the ultimate goal of all soft skills we need to learn is to build good relationships, I think.

Good relationships are built by truly caring about people who put their trust in you. This is possible only if we listen with open mind and open heart, have a clear awareness of ourselves, other people and the world and work by connecting to the highest future possibilities.

What we see is not the Reality

MIT Professor Peter Senge teaches us: World of relationships is a world of conflicts by its very nature. Different systems with different realities are interacting and sometimes interacting in very problematic ways. It is important to be aware of the fact that we do not perceive the world we see, we see the world we perceive and our perception is a reflection of our history. It is characteristic of a living system. Unlike a non-living device such as a camera, we create our own reality. Men see the world differently than women. So telling someone what reality is, is like making a demand for obedience. None of us can see actual reality because we are not a recording device. And understanding “Love is an act of allowing others to be a legitimate other” by the prominent Biologist Humberto Maturana is essential to truly caring about people.

So forcing our opinion on others will be damaging to the relationship but understanding that you cannot change thinking of people but can only provide them tools to do it themselves and that you cannot control people but can only influence them, may keep the relationships healthy.

Wisdom and the Fog

Tim Urban also provides us some good ways to improve our awareness and understand the big picture that may help to build relationships and gain happiness. He says in his blog (I am paraphrasing):

The goal of human beings should be to gain wisdom. It means being aware of the truth. The truth is a combination of what we know and what we do not know. And gaining and maintaining awareness of both sides of the reality is the key to being wise. So what is in our way: The fog.

A human is the combination of the Higher Being (brilliant, big-thinking, and rational part of our brain) and the low-level animals. These animals are the remnants of our animal past and still a prominent part of our brains, creating a zoo of small-minded emotions and motivations (such as fear, pettiness, jealousy, greed, instant gratification, etc. and the fog) in our heads.

The battle of the Higher Being against the animals—of trying to see through the fog to clarity—is the core internal human struggle.

The most glaring example is the way the fog convinces us, time after time, that certain things will make us happy that in reality absolutely don’t. The only real way to improve happiness in a lasting way is to make progress in the battle against the fog.

So if it were not because of the fog, is there any point for developing a reputation for being cheap, a liar, selfish, greedy, dishonest, or rigid or someone with a bad attitude or bad work ethics?

Being aware of our biases, shortcomings or weaknesses and continuously trying to overcome them is a major struggle for all of us. A major key to achieving this is to develop our listening skills.

Four Levels of Listening

According to MIT Professor Otto Scharmer, there are four levels of listening:

i- Listening from Habit: You listen only to what you already know. You reconfirm your opinions and judgments.

ii- Factual Listening: Listening with an open mind. Listening to what contradicts your own opinions and judgments.

iii- Empathic Listening: Listening with an open heart. Listening with feelings and seeing the situation from eyes of another. Listening with an emotional connection with another.

iv- Generative Listening: Listening with connection to emerging future possibilities. Noticing arrival of your highest future possibilities.

We cannot improve our awareness unless we really listen with an open mind and open heart. Not listening with an open mind and open heart is one of the major causes of conflict or troubles in the world.

A study conducted by Harvard University noted that 80% of achievements in career are determined by soft skills and only 20% by hard skills.

Here it’s worth it to remind ourselves of the famous quote of Aristotle: “What is essence of life? To serve others and do good.”

Whether it is for career success, happiness or a good life, it makes all the sense to let go of short term benefits or instant-gratification and keep improving ourselves to build good relationships.

Top ten soft skill attributes for business executives

Following is a list of soft skills compiled by Eastern Kentucky University.

  1. Communication – oral, speaking capability, written, presenting, listening.
  2. Courtesy – manners, etiquette, business etiquette, graciousness, saying please and thank you, being respectful.
  3. Flexibility – adaptability, willingness to change, lifelong learner, accepting new things, adjusting, teachable.
  4. Integrity – honest, ethical, having high morals and personal values, doing what’s right.
  5. Interpersonal skills – being nice, personable, friendly, nurturing, empathetic, patient, sociable, having self-control, sense of humor, warmth, social skills.
  6. Positive attitude – optimistic, enthusiastic, encouraging, happy, confident.
  7. Professionalism – business-like, well-dressed, appearance, poised.
  8. Responsibility – accountable, reliable, gets the job done, resourceful, self-disciplined, wants to do well, conscientious, common sense.
  9. Teamwork – cooperative, gets along with others, agreeable, supportive, helpful, collaborative.
  10. Work ethic – hard working, willing to work, loyal, takes initiative, self-motivated, on time, good attendance.

http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/10/religion-for-the-nonreligious.html

Professor Otto Scharmer Presentation on Youtube.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Golden Age Of North America, Western Europe & Japan” By F. Sheikh

After WWII, period between 1948 and 1973 brought great prosperity, economic boom and sharp increase in productivity.This period is considered Golden Age of  North America, Western Europe, and Japan, writes Marc Levinson, an economist, historian and journalist, in one of his recent article. During this period, Marshal Plan was conceived to rebuild Western Europe and Japan. America’s infrastructure of roads, bridges, schools, universities, factories, heavy equipment for construction and farms equipment got built; and we are profiting from this even today. It brought prosperity and social programs never seen before. It was a period of dream jobs for anyone willing to work. These were kind of jobs with good pay, health insurance, pension, disability, vacation, and sick leave that every blue-collar worker still dreams of.  By 1973, growth has achieved the maximum it could muster, and then unfortunately the stagnation started. To achieve further growth new technology was needed, and new technology with automation was brought in to increase the growth. Graph below explains what happened.

Image result for Manufacturing output vs employment 1940 to 2010

As the graph above shows USA manufacturing jobs ( blue line) start to decline in late 1970’s but its overall Manufacturing output ( redline) continue to increase due to new technology and automation. Even though the manufacturing jobs were cut to half by 2010, the overall growth of manufactured goods continue to climb. Graph below shows as robots increased, the manufacturing jobs declined.

Image result for Chart long robots short human beings

Manufacturing jobs in Western Europe and Japan were not doing better either. See two graph below on manufacturing jobs and output. As a percentage of employed population, manufacturing jobs start to decrease even before 1973 but overall goods output continues to increase due to automation.

Image result for world manufacturing employment chart

Related image

Despite losing manufacturing jobs, USA was still the largest producer of manufactured goods until recently, when China took over as the largest manufacturer of goods mainly because of population advantage. But USA is expected to take lead again, per Industry Week Magazine, by 2020 due to automation technology. Moving of manufacturing jobs to other countries had only marginal impact on total manufactured goods in USA.  

Economist, Marc Levinson, further argues that Golden Age ended in 1973 and cannot be repeated. Even Elon Musk and Bill Gates are not optimistic and are suggesting some social programs to help significant portion of population that will be permanently underemployed or unemployed due to automation technology. Elon Musk supports Universal Basic Income (UBI) for every one given by government and Bill Gates recently suggested to tax Robots like humans on the income they produce.

Many blue collars workers voted for Trump with the hope that he will bring back Golden Age period. It is the same nostalgia that some Muslims have for their Golden Age period, which is not coming back either-as human’s fierce ambition to progress and move forward does not care who gets trampled in the way.

Fayyaz Sheikh

Robots Taking Human’s Jobs Should Be Taxed Like Humans, Bill Gates Suggests

( Interesting article by Paul Ratner in Big Idea)

The prospect of automation taking away human jobs is both alarming and an opportunity to reorient our civilization to new objectives. The worrying part is that a sizable number of jobs, both blue and white collar, might be gone soon – a number that some estimates put as high as 47% during the next 25 years.

How will we adjust to this transformation? How will the people without jobs survive? Some ideas, floated by people like Elon Musk, see the necessity of instituting a universal basic income. Another approach was just proposed by Bill Gates, one of the original tech superstars and prognosticators, who also happens to be the world’s richest man. In an interview with Quartz, Bill Gates explained his view that as robots will be taking human jobs, a “robot tax” will be necessary on the companies that employ them.

Gates sees this as a positive development, because the tax would fund jobs that do not receive enough focus and talent currently, including elderly care and working with kids. These types of jobs that require empathy are better left to the humans. The government would run such programs. Gates thinks business cannot be left to manage this because growing “inequity” due to automation can only be addressed via the government.

Here’s how Gates says that as a working human is taxed, so should the robot replacing the human –

“Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level,” explains Gates.

He thinks it an overall positive that automation will replace much of human labor, as it will free those people to do something else. What is necessary is training and education. 

“So if you can take the labor that used to do the thing automation replaces, and financially and training-wise and fulfillment-wise have that person go off and do these other things, then you’re net ahead. But you can’t just give up that income tax, because that’s part of how you’ve been funding that level of human workers,” points out Gates.

Gates proposes that the time has come to start talking about these questions. Many jobs in retail, warehouse work, driving, service industry and others should be gone in the next 20 years. And, according to Gates, maybe we should also think about slowing down the pace of automation until we have a good plan going forward.

How would taxing automation work exactly? Gates sees it as a tax on profits from increased efficiency or a tax on robot companies.

“Some of it can come on the profits that are generated by the labor-saving efficiency there. Some of it can come directly in some type of robot tax. I don’t think the robot companies are going to be outraged that there might be a tax. It’s OK,” says Gates.

Overall, Gates stays enthusiastic about the future. But automation is a topic that demands immediate and continual attention. Not because we should be afraid of innovation, but because it’s a challenge we worked to create and need to meet.

“People should be figuring it out. It is really bad if people overall have more fear about what innovation is going to do than they have enthusiasm. That means they won’t shape it for the positive things it can do,” continues Gates.

To him, taxation is a better approach to innovation than stifling it. 

http://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/bill-gates-proposes-that-if-a-robot-takes-a-human-job-it-should-pay-taxes?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=2696a8fe1e-DailyNewsletter_021817&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_625217e121-2696a8fe1e-41548293

posted by f.sheikh

Ninety-nine per cent of the species that have lived on Earth have gone extinct, are we next?

Ninety-nine per cent of the species that have lived on Earth have gone extinct, including more than five tool-using hominids. A quick glance at the fossil record could frighten you into thinking that Earth is growing more dangerous with time. If you carve the planet’s history into nine ages, each spanning five hundred million years, only in the ninth do you find mass extinctions, events that kill off more than two thirds of all species. But this is deceptive. Earth has always had her hazards; it’s just that for us to see them, she had to fill her fossil beds with variety, so that we could detect discontinuities across time. The tree of life had to fill out before it could be pruned.

Simple, single-celled life appeared early in Earth’s history. A few hundred million whirls around the newborn Sun were all it took to cool our planet and give it oceans, liquid laboratories that run trillions of chemical experiments per second. Somewhere in those primordial seas, energy flashed through a chemical cocktail, transforming it into a replicator, a combination of molecules that could send versions of itself into the future.

For a long time, the descendants of that replicator stayed single-celled. They also stayed busy, preparing the planet for the emergence of land animals, by filling its atmosphere with breathable oxygen, and sheathing it in the ozone layer that protects us from ultraviolet light. Multicellular life didn’t begin to thrive until 600 million years ago, but thrive it did. In the space of two hundred million years, life leapt onto land, greened the continents, and lit the fuse on the Cambrian explosion, a spike in biological creativity that is without peer in the geological record. The Cambrian explosion spawned most of the broad categories of complex animal life. It formed phyla so quickly, in such tight strata of rock, that Charles Darwin worried its existence disproved the theory of natural selection.

No one is certain what caused the five mass extinctions that glare out at us from the rocky layers atop the Cambrian. But we do have an inkling about a few of them. The most recent was likely borne of a cosmic impact, a thudding arrival from space, whose aftermath rained exterminating fire on the dinosaurs. The ecological niche for mammals swelled in the wake of this catastrophe, and so did mammal brains. A subset of those brains eventually learned to shape rocks into tools, and sounds into symbols, which they used to pass thoughts between one another. Armed with this extraordinary suite of behaviours, they quickly conquered Earth, coating its continents in cities whose glow can be seen from space. It’s a sad story from the dinosaurs’ perspective, but there is symmetry to it, for they too rose to power on the back of a mass extinction. One hundred and fifty million years before the asteroid struck, a supervolcanic surge killed off the large crurotarsans, a group that outcompeted the dinosaurs for aeons. Mass extinctions serve as guillotines and kingmakers both.

Bostrom isn’t too concerned about extinction risks from nature. Not even cosmic risks worry him much, which is surprising, because our starry universe is a dangerous place. Every 50 years or so, one of the Milky Way’s stars explodes into a supernova, its detonation the latest gong note in the drumbeat of deep time. If one of our local stars were to go supernova, it could irradiate Earth, or blow away its thin, life-sustaining atmosphere. Worse still, a passerby star could swing too close to the Sun, and slingshot its planets into frigid, intergalactic space. Lucky for us, the Sun is well-placed to avoid these catastrophes. Its orbit threads through the sparse galactic suburbs, far from the dense core of the Milky Way, where the air is thick with the shrapnel of exploding stars. None of our neighbours look likely to blow before the Sun swallows Earth in four billion years. And, so far as we can tell, no planet-stripping stars lie in our orbital path. Our solar system sits in an enviable bubble of space and time.

But as the dinosaurs discovered, our solar system has its own dangers, like the giant space rocks that spin all around it, splitting off moons and scarring surfaces with craters. In her youth, Earth suffered a series of brutal bombardments and celestial collisions, but she is safer now. There are far fewer asteroids flying through her orbit than in epochs past. And she has sprouted a radical new form of planetary protection, a species of night watchmen that track asteroids with telescopes.

‘If we detect a large object that’s on a collision course with Earth, we would likely launch an all-out Manhattan project to deflect it,’ Bostrom told me. Nuclear weapons were once our asteroid-deflecting technology of choice, but not anymore. A nuclear detonation might scatter an asteroid into a radioactive rain of gravel, a shotgun blast headed straight for Earth. Fortunately, there are other ideas afoot. Some would orbit dangerous asteroids with small satellites, in order to drag them into friendlier trajectories. Others would paint asteroids white, so the Sun’s photons bounce off them more forcefully, subtly pushing them off course. Who knows what clever tricks of celestial mechanics would emerge if Earth were truly in peril.

Even if we can shield Earth from impacts, we can’t rid her surface of supervolcanoes, the crustal blowholes that seem bent on venting hellfire every 100,000 years. Our species has already survived a close brush with these magma-vomiting monsters. Some 70,000 years ago, the Toba supereruption loosed a small ocean of ash into the atmosphere above Indonesia. The resulting global chill triggered a food chain disruption so violent that it reduced the human population to a few thousand breeding pairs — the Adams and Eves of modern humanity. Today’s hyper-specialised, tech-dependent civilisations might be more vulnerable to catastrophes than the hunter-gatherers who survived Toba. But we moderns are also more populous and geographically diverse. It would take sterner stuff than a supervolcano to wipe us out.

‘There is a concern that civilisations might need a certain amount of easily accessible energy to ramp up,’ Bostrom told me. ‘By racing through Earth’s hydrocarbons, we might be depleting our planet’s civilisation startup-kit. But, even if it took us 100,000 years to bounce back, that would be a brief pause on cosmic time scales.’

It might not take that long. The history of our species demonstrates that small groups of humans can multiply rapidly, spreading over enormous volumes of territory in quick, colonising spasms. There is research suggesting that both the Polynesian archipelago and the New World — each a forbidding frontier in its own way — were settled by less than 100 human beings.

The risks that keep Bostrom up at night are those for which there are no geological case studies, and no human track record of survival. These risks arise from human technology, a force capable of introducing entirely new phenomena into the world.

‘Human brains are really good at the kinds of cognition you need to run around the savannah throwing spears’

Nuclear weapons were the first technology to threaten us with extinction, but they will not be the last, nor even the most dangerous. A species-destroying exchange of fissile weapons looks less likely now that the Cold War has ended, and arsenals have shrunk. There are still tens of thousands of nukes, enough to incinerate all of Earth’s dense population centres, but not enough to target every human being. The only way nuclear war will wipe out humanity is by triggering nuclear winter, a crop-killing climate shift that occurs when smoldering cities send Sun-blocking soot into the stratosphere. But it’s not clear that nuke-levelled cities would burn long or strong enough to lift soot that high. The Kuwait oil field fires blazed for ten months straight, roaring through 6 million barrels of oil a day, but little smoke reached the stratosphere. A global nuclear war would likely leave some decimated version of humanity in its wake; perhaps one with deeply rooted cultural taboos concerning war and weaponry.

Such taboos would be useful, for there is another, more ancient technology of war that menaces humanity. Humans have a long history of using biology’s deadlier innovations for ill ends; we have proved especially adept at the weaponisation of microbes. In antiquity, we sent plagues into cities by catapulting corpses over fortified walls. Now we have more cunning Trojan horses. We have even stashed smallpox in blankets, disguising disease as a gift of good will. Still, these are crude techniques, primitive attempts to loose lethal organisms on our fellow man. In 1993, the death cult that gassed Tokyo’s subways flew to the African rainforest in order to acquire the Ebola virus, a tool it hoped to use to usher in Armageddon. In the future, even small, unsophisticated groups will be able to enhance pathogens, or invent them wholesale. Even something like corporate sabotage, could generate catastrophes that unfold in unpredictable ways. Imagine an Australian logging company sending synthetic bacteria into Brazil’s forests to gain an edge in the global timber market. The bacteria might mutate into a dominant strain, a strain that could ruin Earth’s entire soil ecology in a single stroke, forcing 7 billion humans to the oceans for food.

These risks are easy to imagine. We can make them out on the horizon, because they stem from foreseeable extensions of current technology. But surely other, more mysterious risks await us in the epochs to come. After all, no 18th-century prognosticator could have imagined nuclear doomsday. Bostrom’s basic intellectual project is to reach into the epistemological fog of the future, to feel around for potential threats. It’s a project that is going to be with us for a long time, until — if — we reach technological maturity, by inventing and surviving all existentially dangerous technologies.

posted by f.sheikh