Eight skills to navigate the future with

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This post originally appeared on Theshift.fi 21.12.2015. I am super excited to be speaking at their conference on the 31.5.-1.6.16 in a castle in Turku, Finland! 

1: Empathy

More than compassion, empathy is the ability to set yourself in another person’s situation and life.

As we grow in numbers on this planet, urbanize, and life grows in complexity as we get more connected, it’s an imperative skill to be able to co-exist and act with each other.

2: Resilience

Resilience is to adapt and cope in new situations. We need resilient communities around the world who can produce their own basic necessities and generate electricity for own needs – and fix those systems when they break. We need resilient communities to support each other, such as communities of women who hold together and help out an unfortunate of their circle when a microloan can’t be repaid. Or communities such as scouts, who provide an important second family to young people. Resilient communities and resilient teams can adapt to sudden negative changes and make the hit smaller by all taking a portion of the blow.

3: Technological self-confidence

Many organizations, schools and individuals face the fact of an ever more technological world. Technology is entering more areas in life and business – energy, mobility, information, commercial areas and consumer products. The transformation from being a consumer with limited knowledge of how devices and applications work to an informed actor who can influence the world around us is all in the mind and effort. Once you seek information and practice in programming and building or modifying things, you see the world with different eyes, more opportunities and less fear. At mehackit, we bring complete novices their first steps in building and programming robots. Through seeing results made with your own efforts, the first experience of success around self-expression using technology as a tool brings courage, turning the previously unknown into something less intimidating and more exciting.

4: Critical thinking

As information flows faster and more information floods your landscape, being able to think critically about the information you are receiving raises its importance. Also, as more people tend to throw opinions on the web (like me here!), being critical and objective is key to getting as truthful an idea as you can. Of course, not everyone seeks after truth and correct knowledge. Skills of critical analysis need to be rehearsed, too.

News article stating mysterious holes appearing in the ground? Seek the area on google maps, zoom out, and you’ll see that it’s a naturally occurring phenomena thanks to the shapes of the holes, some of which have been filled with water and are lakes.

5: Systemic thinking

When acting in this tight-knit, connected world, every action or inaction taken will lead to consequence. You should be ever more aware of the greater effects and consequences of your and your company’s decisions. How will your authority accreditation strategy affect other companies in the field? How well do you know your supply chain sourcing? What shifts do you force in the broader scope? Think globally (universally) and long-term.

6: Ability and the will to learn anything

14-year olds at Singularity University were asked “what is the meaning of education?” to which they answered that the most important thing that can be taught to them is simply to “make me believe that I can learn anything”. This in essence is the key factor to millennials navigating in an ever-evolving world – they will probably change jobs and industry more than 20 times during their lifetime, and need to develop a skill of learning on the go.

7: Soft skills

Problem-solving, team working, conflict resolution and other co-operation skills were also mentioned when the 14-year olds told Singularity University what education should look like. Personally, I find that personalized ways to development, tools to manage this crazy life and build your own persona, path and peace would be extremely important to facilitate in many different ways, so each individual could find a comfortable way to address challenges from within.

8: Seeking opportunity in problems

Climate change causing emissions, warming, erosion, rising sea level, natural catastrophes, (the list goes on), mass mobilization from war, political, climate and other refugees, fossil fuel dependency in how our agriculture, mobility, industry, energy and more of society’s key necessities depend (still) all on humanity-endangering fossil fuels, food distribution and sourcing, clean water, urbanization, healthcare.. the list of global grand challenges goes on. Anyone can make a list of the issues only in their immediate environment, and address them. Entrepreneurs who combat problems are not all “social entrepreneurs” or non-profits. Pretty much any new startup you see will have started from an issue, big or small, that they are out to solve. Whether it’s a solution to help you render 3D modeling faster or a solution for disease outbreaks tracking, it all started by seeing a problem and doing something about it.

 

And don’t forget the uttermost important: Love! ❤

 

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The Universe and Relativity theories for beginners!

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This is awesome, especially if baking simultaneously.

Thanks Dr. Jeffrey Bennett (University of Colorado)!

Singularity University Challenge now in Finland!

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Repost of my guest post at Aaltoes blog

Great news people!

For the first time ever in Finland, Singularity University is organising the Global Impact Challenge Finland together with Aaltoes, Samsung, IF, Kaute and the Centennial Foundation. 

Singularity University’s mission is to positively impact people’s lives in grand challenge areas and beyond. SU is a magical institute in the heart of Silicon Valley, at NASA Ames Research Center, and every summer it’s flagship program Graduate Studies Program (GSP) brings together 80 people from completely different backgrounds to form ventures that can drive change for good. Some of the companies that have come out are for example Made In Space 3D printing in Space (they actually succeeded, without a market or Earth’s gravity) or MirOculus saving lives by early, low cost cancer detection systems.

In this competition, we ask applicants to show us how they will or have impacted the lives of a million people positively. The idea can be to solve a problem in the area one of the global grand challenges: health, education, poverty, water, food, environment, energy, security, or it can be something you think needs to be addressed in another important area like gender equality, urbanisation, or other. It can be local or global. You need to be over 21 years old and have an open mind to discover novelties, and to challenge yourself.

The main prize of the Global Impact Challenge Finland is a seat and full scholarship to attend the 10-week Graduate Studies Program in Silicon Valley. The prize is worth US $29,500 in cold cash, but there are no limits to how much you can change your life and the lives of others with an open mindset, hard work and a will to learn and build epic stuff.

The challenge applications are open NOW and close on March 23rd, 2015.

Here’s a few words from me and Marcus (GSP14) to encourage you to APPLY!

See you at the finals 8th April 2015 at Startup Sauna!

Henrietta

Andromeda

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Our closest galactic neighbour Andromeda.

(The image, of which this video is made, taken by the Hubble telescope, uses 1.5 billion pixels to reveal about 100 million stars—a ten thousandth of the stars in the whole galaxy).

Trillion stars shimmer here

Ungraspable mystery

Intriguing forces

Read this and try get your head around it!

Humanity, wake up

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My humble thoughts.

We need to figure out how to live together in this world. To learn respect and make peace – without hatred – today.

Educate the women – all of them – finally. They will educate every child they ever bare. Prof. Hans Rosling has done amazing research on this. [Religion and babies 13min TED talk]

Quit the hatred. We are entering a new era of ultimate connectedness and machine learning, robotics and distant actions which translate globally. We need to get rid of hate today. Historically things have always gotten better (in less death rates, disasters, wars..) but now in this accelerating change the consequences can grow too big before good actions come along – unless we take a new mindset and immediate action.

We need to stop suffering, and ensure everyone’s basic human rights are fulfilled. We need to increase cross-border cross-culture action for good.

We shouldn’t attack terrorism. We should be wiser, and attack the root causes. A person who has basic needs met,

We should be wiser, and attack the root causes.

including even basic education, and choices about life available, will educate their child to lead a better life than what they had.

The world needs the brave more than ever. Let’s work together – this planet is our home and we deserve to live in peace. Do something. One can’t always be strong but you can always be brave (and help someone).

Peace out.

Quotes from SU GSP13 & bon voyage for the ’14ers

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Ah – it’s been a year since Singularity University GSP13 opening ceremonies. Now Marcus, Suvi and 78 others are brimming with excitement for monday’s ceremonies.

Here’s some quotes I dug out of my notebook that had to come out: (some to be digested with an humorous mind)

NASA: “Teleportation? Yeah. We’re working on it.”

“A lot of space findings are made after science fiction movies. You imagine it, we’ll find it.”

MD Peter H. Diamandis: (To Ray) “Life is short until you extend it.”

Prof. Johan Rockström: “Earth has hit the ceiling of capacity to support humanity”

Marc Andreesseen: “In the old days we used to call pivoting f*ing up. But don’t do the same stupid sh*t for four years.”

Peter Thiel: “People are so focused on being better than others. Ideally never compete – do something so different no one wants to do it”

Ben Goertzel: “Being dead seems so much more boring than being alive.”

Finkel M. Malaria, Nat Geog.2007: “Half of the people who have ever lived died of malaria.”

Someone:

“Greenland melting a problem because of sea level rise? Not really. It’s just our largest sunlight reflector outside the atmosphere..”

“When was the last time you were so tired you didn’t even recycle something?”

“What do you think of western civilization?” -“I think it would be a good idea!”

 

tweet

 

(Then there’s a long part of technical stuff, then humanitarian stuff in my book.. )

 

Paul Saffo: “Never mistake a clear view for short distance.” “Embrace uncertainty.” “Identify your biases.”

Barry Briant: “What is empathy? Find the place that hurts the most, connect to other people through that.”

Nancy Ellen Abrams: “Eat local, act global, think universal, be cosmical”

 

my drawing of future cars in 2013

google-buggy released 2014

google-buggy released 2014

Google Buggy released 2014

Google Buggy released 2014

 

Have a fantastic summer people! Remember, life is music and you are supposed to dance to it. (Alan Watts)

P.S. I hope you get told the same thing as we did at our opening ceremonies: “It takes a certain breed of courage to take those intentions and turn it into reality. The value of an idea lies not just in the idea, but in the doing it. Now go build some epic shit!”

 

So.. what exactly was it you did in Singularity University?

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A short attempt at explaining the ten-week flow and dynamics

Cosmology, humanity and a multiplanetary future

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We went for a visit to SpaceXElon Musk’s private space company. It was a mind-blowing experience seeing the factory itself, and hearing from one of his engineers how he manages the company on the side of Tesla and other ides such as the hyper loop. It’s not for nothing that they call him the greatest entrepreneur of our time.

How he started SpaceX was that he gathered 30 senior people from the space industry around a table and asked them what they think of the idea of starting a private space venture. 28 said he is nuts and that it will never work – Elon’s reply was that since he is the only person who will do it, he must.

He does not have an advisory board. Most of the money invested in SpaceX is his own. He knows every bolt and screw in his rockets, understands the technology better than any of his engineers and calls all decisions for business. This is his lifework. All communication goes essentially upward in their organization – Elon calls a shot and people execute freely. They are free to do what they want, but they know what is expected of them – a lot, and they are accountable for all they do. Nobody has to work at SpaceX. All the best want to. There is no room for playing around and all the people are working hard, long weeks, for a common vision of getting to Mars and changing people’s ways of seeing space. Elon wants to die on Mars.

“If one can figure out how to effectively reuse rockets just like airplanes, the cost of access to space will be reduced by as much as a factor of a hundred.  A fully reusable vehicle has never been done before. That really is the fundamental breakthrough needed to revolutionize access to space.”

–Elon Musk

(from SpaceX blogpost Reusability: The key to making human life multiplanetary)

The company says they are not a technology company, instead a business process company. They have not invented any new tech – they just use existing technology in a smarter way. They call themselves the FedX of space, already having delivered things, amongst them an ice cream, to the International Space Station. Why have 9 engines on a rocket? If one fails, 8 are good to go. They are practicing landing the rockets back, and have proven to do so successfully in test runs – sinking costs in being able to reuse the rockets. They can bring a rocket back with 3% of the fuel used to get it up. They can transport their rockets to launchpads on land instead of shipping them around with major costs, thanks to the diameter size. SpaceX does everything in-house. They get in raw materials and manufacture everything, so avoiding delays in delivers and unexpected costs. Elon won’t let anything get in his way.

Image

Saguaro Cacti in Arizona by Jim Richardson

What SpaceX and Diamandis’s XPrize are doing is aiming people’s attention to the forgotten worlds of the Universe again. A potential Mars settlement is rumored to be modeled after Burning Man camp of roughly 60K people, and new little space companies are popping up, such as the various cube sats for education and Made in Space for 3D printing in zero gravity.

A lot of people ask me how long will the space frontier race take to realize, or how far are these predictions. I have no idea, but I do know that the more people like my classmate Afshin Khan, an astrobiologist, working on how to grow food on Mars, the sooner we’ll get there. These people are serious about inhabiting space outside the ISS very soon.

Inhabiting other areas outside Earth raise many questions to me though. Who are the people who are going to form the first settlements? Will they all be from the same country, bringing the culture of just one kind? What if other cultures want to join? What will their children be told about Earth and its humans? Human beings tend to get stupid about owning things, and not caring for things which are not owned by them or their yacht club. Sometimes human beings are evil to one another. Especially if the distance is great and understanding of the other culture not, bad leaders can stop people from thinking straight.

The thing is, we are all human. And we all do share something incredibly precious- the most precious thing known today – the Earth. Why, in the 21st century, are we still thinking that doing something on one side of the earth will not have an affect on the entire planet? Why are companies allowed to think so and why do consumers not care or know? Yesterday Helsingin Sanomat (the most wide-spread newspaper in Scandinavia, the societally most educated people in the world) released an article in the headlines of “Human-impacted climate change is true according to scientists”. How is this new information? How can people, after seeing Google Earth images of humans deforesting the Amazon, our planet’s lungs, still say that we are not harming the environment in an impact full way? The Earth is at present our only habitat, and it needs to support a lot of us. A mistake made somewhere bears a very heavy price, multiple times the momentary yield, and is paid by all of us.

The precious Earth and mother nature are working hard to support us all. Human beings can not, until today, replicate the miraculous way the Earth is taking care of keeping us alive. We need to not think that we can go and invade other planets to destroy, and we need to not think of taking ancient grudges with us into space. Every minute, seven people die of lack of access to clean water, two die because of hunger, two of air pollution and one of Malaria. China, Japan and other countries have acquired land outside their borders due to the growing needs and dying sources of water and food. Agriculture uses 70% of our water today. (For instance, you need 15 000 litres of water to produce a kg of beef. You can calculate your footprint here, and start conserving water today by just choosing what you buy, and from where.)

So before we start acting in smarter ways, realizing the potential of all the good we could do and harnessing it to take action in all our acts, small and large, is vital. We need to care for each other as we need to for the resources given to us and the potential to find more, as a whole humanity.

Now, the good news is, we are going into the better direction. We are learning how to use the resources readily available a bit better each day – when it comes to finding new energy sources or ways to farm more efficiently. However, we need to change our mindset fast. Kids born today are internet native and global. The more intercultural exchange you make, the more amazement you will get to all the wonders of other countries and traditions. What my friend Nancy Ellen Abrams believes is that if we shared a common understanding of the known universe again, and mutual cosmology, we could better understand what our place in this universe is, and how we as humans on this precious, unique planet need to collaborate in living together peacefully and making this world a better place. (Please watch Nancy’s talk and read Peter Diamandis’s book Abundance). So we need to tell ourselves, and our children, about the magic of the cosmic universe, and share this planet so future generations can witness the wonders of the world. Bad news: we are already way too late in stopping burning fossils, consuming obsoletely, polluting (sometimes in “far away” countries whilst exploiting others), deforesting, killing each other, etc. Good news: you can affect these things and work proactively against them starting from this second.

There’s an abundance of resources out there and in you. You educated person on the internet – be aware and pay attention! You can drive change, and we as a bunch can really turn things around and have a great future. Change is not difficult and big change is not either. It just takes the smarter ones of us to DO IT.

I’d like to end this off with Peter Diamandis’s ever-so optimistic answer I got to a related question: “By the time we get to mars, humanity will have completely changed. In the next few decades we will see a complete evolution, mixing with technology and a new kind of idea of humanity as a whole. “

Robot takeover hooray!

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In the last.. thousand yeats our biological hard drive, or the brain, has not seen a huge upgrade. At the same time, information flood is ever increasing and exponentially growing. Artificial General Intelligence, or Strong AI is being researched with the aim to lift the problem solving capacity and information processing up to the next levels.

Ben Goertzel, one of the worlds most well-known AGI researchers told us about his dream – “When a robot can walk into any given average home and cook coffee, we’ve reached our goal”. AGI is not naturally evil and we should not be terrified by the prospect of it nearing in the future. I hope Artificial Intelligence first and then AGI can help us i.e. in medical diagnostics or space exploration, as the intelligence could process more info and understand it better than anyone on the planet. Neil Jacobstein reminded me that it could be used for making incredibly well structured designs. Designs for anything from a nanorobot to a city structure to a Mars inhabitation center.

Think about infrastructural changes due to robotics booming. Robots are going to take care of a significant part of work – the tedious, dangerous, difficult, unpleasant, automated work. Society needs to adapt to this. Governments get ready to a significant drop in employment rates, and for legal and ethical questions that arise as robotics increase in our daily life. This is not a far away scenario. I’ll try to describe why and how this will take place in the next five years.

Not to fear – the whole planet will soon get educated (probably the first of the UN Millenium Development Goals to come true), population growth will stop before 10 BN, we will live off Earth soon at other planets and so ensure the continuity of human species, we’ll finally learn how to use the Sun – the infinite source of energy more effectively in abundance of energy.. So we have enough to work on even though robots would take care of freeing our hands for more important things to do.

The Robots are here already, in fact. You’ve probably heard of the vacuum cleaner robots (which some people take with on holidays and give names to, true story). The robotics industry has exploded for all purposes. A certain CEO even went to a cocktail party through a telepresence robot, as he could not physically be there. (And all the cool people wanted to speak to him of course 😉 )

Here are a few new lovely aquaintances!

This January, the FDA approved the telepresence robot RP Vita. They come in handy, as doctors have access to patients far away, and a robot has a vastly greater knowledge bank around than a doctor does.

iRobot’s RP Vita

Paro is an empatic robot, wich is used in i.e. dementia patients care. AI can not yet hold up a regular conversation or make suitable expressions, but we do know how to make creatures to easily attach to, or what need our care. Paro can learn the behavior wished by its owner and how to recognize its new name.

Photo courtesy NY times. Paro, therapy for ones with dementia.

Nao Robots can be programmed to simulate human-like behavior.

Baxter costs a mere $22,000 and you don’t need to program it – anyone can teach it by showing what to do. For example, you can teach a simple task and have it do the monotonous work after that. Quite handy at a factory, think about what this would have costed some years back! And no labor unions to ask for pay raise.

Boston Dynamicsin LS3 Big Dog starts getting scary – would not want to run into that in the woods. What’s your reaction after the kicking?

Robots are made for all sorts of things – helping people in heavy and dangerous work, bomb squads and hazardous sites, space exploration, nano scale surgery, and helping people walk again, but it comes as no wonder that robots too, started to be heavily developed by the military first, for their purposes.

Would it be right for a robot to kill a human being? I do not think so. But still, every day, unmanned drones are flying and killing. Where do we draw a line? If a robot fires to threat, who is responsible?
Legislation needs to up its game to stay on track of new innovations – who does the new health monitor device data belong to and what can it be used for? After the Google self driving cars make (and record) history in capturing a continuous video of our streets, that can be traced back to in time in an instant, can Google use it freely for their own purposes?
May we prevent the unborn child from having Down syndrome by altering its DNA? What about proneness to obesity? What about choosing a height?

The scary part should not be the technology that people invent, but the use for the technology that we invent.
You can use drones to monitor forest fires, or espionage. You can make viruses for good of for epidemics. We have always had a variety of things to use in good or bad. Most of us choose the good and mutually beneficial usage. Robotics will free us from the labor we know now to the new kinds of tasks and pursuits we feel are the new important!

As we learn more about space and our planet, and as we communicate in a free, global manner, our children will not understand why anyone ever wanted to go to war. We will hopefully soon understand that whatever we do has a global impact. Air pollution is democratic. The lungs of our world are being chopped up in search of cheaper wood. There are no more excuses to use or ways to look the other way. What’s the supply chain of your company?

My favourite phrase cited from Nancy Ellen Abrams: Eat local, think global, act universal, be cosmical.

Cheaper Smaller Faster Better

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We’re into the beginning of our fourth week here at Singularity University.

I’d like to bring forth a few of the advances we’ve learned of. The outcomes and implications are many times unknown, and where we see possibilities, we also see threats. That’s why we need to understand the greater picture better – to find a new kind of mindset and also prepare – in terms of policy, law and ethics, or education and habits.

image courtesy sadhillnews.com

Case example. When you hear self-driving car, do you fear for your safety and think machines can’t possibly operate seamlessly in surprising situations?

DARPA organized a self-driving vehicle Grand Challenge in 2004. Most crashed and not one made the finish line. In 2005, all but one of the 23 finalists in the race surpassed the 11.78 km distance completed by the best vehicle in the 2004 race. Stanford’s Stanley came in first place. In 2007, The course involved a 96 km  urban area course, to be completed in less than 6 hours. Rules included obeying all traffic regulations while negotiating with other traffic and obstacles and merging into traffic. Chevy -CMU won, VW-Stanford came in second, Virginiatech-Ford third.

On the same day that these cars made it seamlessly to the end obeying traffic, rules and sensing conditions , the worst highway crash pileup with 126 vehicles happened just next door in California. Because people didn’t drive slower in fog, people kept on driving full speed into the one ahead. I guess you get the picture, even without highlighting human error, distractions etc.

Do you still think Google self-driving cars are a bad idea? I do not. In Finland alone, every winter we lose people to stupid behavior in bad weather traffic. And every fall because of crashes with large animals. And every summer because of drunken drivers. 1,2 million die yearly worldwide because of humans not being good drivers. 40% of the accidents are due to drinking. Suddenly, a 360 degree sensor-packed car radar monitoring its surroundings seems like a safe option.

IBM Watson supercomputer, having no internet access, outperformed two of the all-time Jeopardy champions by far. This is an astonishing leap towards intelligent maschines – Watson understood even trick questions.

Maschine learning and natural language processing saw a breakthrough in Richard Rachid of Microsoft’s speech, where the spoken was translated real-time into Chinese. (7’22)

A logic-gated nanorobot was made for targeted transport of molecular payloads. What it does, simplified, is enclose a bad cell in it and destroys it.

DNA nanorobot to fight cancer cells (image courtesy of madprime.org)

I’ll speak more about robotics and artificial intelligence in a separate post, as besides the subject being huge, there are a lot of questions related to ethics, consciousness and law that easily arise.

Exponential technologies follow Moore’s law curve. I’ve now seen it in at least 6 presentations, last today in a great speech from Steve Jurvetson, a truly intelligent and pioneering investor.

Exponential growth. Image courtesy of Ray Kurzweil & Kurzweil Technologies.

To take off in mass, a technology needs to be made cheap enough. Only the rich can afford a technology when it almost does not work. When it does work, it will be free. Faster smaller cheaper better.

In March 2013 American researchers at Stanford University announced they had built a transistor out of DNA and RNA molecules.
There’s a lot to gain in e.g. medicine. Policy and legislation need to step up for the greater good of humans – FDA approvals for a drug may take decades, and leave thousands of people dying, just because they are afraid for one person to die if they do approve a drug. Was injecting the HIV virus into a child dying of leukemia legal? Was there a law? I don’t care, she lives.

I’d like for you to think of the greater societal and intercultural impacts of these technologies – how will people react? How do we handle intelligent machines?   How can additive manufacturing (3D printing) change our economies, healthcare, make the cost of space exploration cheaper by 3D printing in space (like these SU alumni)? How could intelligent sensor systems solve global hunger?