Currently the industrial economy (manufacturing & mass production) is over-the-hill, the knowledge economy (computer and knowledge systems) is in a rapid terminal decline and a new and different world economy is briskly emerging, which can be termed as the emotions economy.
The epicentre of the emotions economy is personal responsibility, caring for others and the world (i.e. group accountability), sharing knowledge and experiences, collaborative addressing and dealing with obstacles, the cooperative solving of problems, issues and wicked challenges, as well as harmonious co-existence and co-creation with others, alongside and synchronized with all of Creation… within a globalization context. Thus, in essence, an awakening and quest by the human race to rediscover and reestablish what is really important in life.
To truly understand the above statement in context, a brief historical overview – of human economic activities through the ages – provide key highlights as to past and present economic shifts and the tempo of change…
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Long ago we started off with a Nomad Economy (Core economic activity: hunter-gatherers) that span approximately a 10,000 year period, which was replaced by the Agricultural Economy (Core economic activity: farming and cultivating crops). It took approximately a 1,000 years to shift (i.e. change) the world’s economy from being a nomad driven economy to become an agricultural driven economy. Main reason for the shift… it was no longer needed to search for “food“, it can be productively cultivated more readily and conveniently.
The Agricultural Economy, which roughly lasted for about 4,000 years, was replaced over a 300 year period by the Industrial Economy (Core economic activity: the mass manufacturing and production of goods). Main reason for the shift… human (&animal for that matter) physical labour was replaced by using machines, equipment and gadgets.
The Industrial Economy lasted for about 70 years, and was over turned by the Knowledge Economy (Core economic activity: Creating, collecting, processing and manipulating data) in 10 years time. Main reason for the shift… machines take over the physical side of production and manufacturing processes and impact on the delivering of services as a result of “rising” Artificial Intelligence.
The Knowledge Economy lasted for 40 years and for the past 3 years there are significant indicators pointing towards the replacement of the Knowledge Economy with the emerging Emotions Economy (Core economic activity: people, relations and interaction), which – by estimation – will take another year or so, to really become the main driving force behind the world’s economy. Main reason for shift… computers and sophisticated ‘Artificial Intelligence‘-based algorithms are mimicking human intellect and thinking to deal with all kinds of problems experienced.
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The emotional economy is currently establishing – with the help of technological advances – at a bewildering tempo to replace ‘knowledge‘ based human economic activities with ‘ relation & interaction‘ economic based human activities. Judging from the present tempo of change, it wouldn’t take many months for this new kind of economy to fully emerge.
What’s next? Who really knows… with present day technological advancement and developments, it is virtually impossible to make any reliable prediction about what we might possibly expect next. This is the main reason why proactive preparation is strongly recommended and seriously encouraged. However, there currently is a hypothesis surfacing that the present job market might – as a result of the technology and communication advances – gain a wise economic character, which suggest that we should offer our labour to who ever needs it – whenever they need it – regardless possible existing geographic and time constraints, because modern day technologies allows us to overcome these space and time restrictions with little difficulty.
‘Economy’, probably isn’t the perfect term to describe the overall unfolding environment in which we are currently conducting economic activities (i.e. is working). It worked well in the past, because work life activities, were mainly founded in and described by economic theory, which doesn’t really apply to the fast-establishing emotions economy of today. But for the moment, due to a lack of a better term, economy will just have to suffice.
Agriculture, manufacturing and knowledge isn’t less important in and for the emerging emotions economy. What it actually implies is that the focus of human economic activities are shifting – as a result of technological breakthroughs, advancements and AI-developments – from doing agricultural, manufacturing and knowledge labour, towards dealing with people, their feelings, relations and interactions. From merely solving problems and issues, towards dealing with the many wicked challenges that we are presently confronted with on a daily basis in a globalized modern society.
Why these changes and economy shift?
Technology – to a surprisingly large extent – can already deal adequately with most elemental problems and issues currently experienced. Presently and for the foreseeable future, technology isn’t yet capable of dealing with wicked challenges, mainly as a result of AI-limitations. The specific AI-limitations being a lack of…
Therefore… self-actualized, self-determined and emotionally aware (EQ) individuals will play an increasingly important leading role within the current vesting emotions economy, as increasing complexity and technological advancements contributes to a new way of doing things, conducting business and render services. Presently there are six key forces that are mainly contributing to the shift from a Knowledge to an Emotions based economy…
Product and service standardization
Most services and products are pretty much equal (i.e. standardized) and there is very little distinction between companies or organizations offering the product or rendering services, specially price and quality wise. For example: Banking services… all bank services and products are virtually the same. Why would clients prefer one bank above another? Clients progressively prefer and tend to select a bank that doesn’t depersonalise them, assist them to individualize and customize (i.e. tailor) services or products to their needs and requirements, provide context and knowledge integration, and above all… help them to feel less isolated.
Depersonalisation occurs when we feel that we have been treated like a number, or a machine, rather than a unique individual. This frequently happens – for example – when we are forced to navigate a maze of complex interactive voice response systems, longing to speak to a real person that can do more than just reading from a pre-compiled script in front of him/her. Sophisticated technologies often creates frustration as it treats us like another piece of technology, not as person with intellect, emotions, feelings, expectations and dreams. Another example – that most people are quite familiar with – is the present recruiting methodology, strategy and processes followed by most companies and employers, which mainly deals with CV’s and have little to no regard for the unique individual behind the CV.
Depersonalisation has accelerated dramatically in recent years. Advances in Artificial Intelligence is making it much easier, more efficient and cheaper for companies (employers) to invest in algorithms, rather than people to perform various tasks. One can understand the capitalistic rationale behind this shift, but completely fail to grasp the client service and support strategy offered… as frustration mounts when the computer “force” people to use words, think and functions in terms that technology “understands“. Things such as “Do you want to talk about Broadband for your office? If yes, say ‘yes’ or press 1 for…, 2 for…, …etc.
The sheer volume of available information can overwhelm us and create a feeling of saturation (a key instigator of future shock). While the volume of useful information is growing, the ‘signal to noise ratio’ is also getting progressively worse, requiring intense effort to find information that actually matters. We know more and more about less and less. Paradoxically, this fosters an addiction to technology, as most people slavishly seek the next piece of often useless information, in the vain hope that it might change things.
This is referred to as drowning in a ‘digital information lake’, which is a repository of vast amounts of data and – sadly – this lake is also submerging much around it. Including the many individuals who are wired in to their devices, constantly seeking answers to vaguely defined questions (i.e. answers to problems and/or issues experienced) hoping to get an answer to persisting uncertainty, confusion and feeling helpless.
Isolation & feelings of loneliness
Despite having an abundance of time saving devices we have become an ‘always on’ society and have less and less me-time for ourselves than ever before. Complex global linkages and many interconnections accelerate our daily exposure, compound the saturation and derail us from what we regard as being meaning and purposeful in life.
Technology also collapses geography and we find ourselves less personally connected to others. We might feel closer to someone in another part of the world, with whom we engage online, while completely disconnected from our immediate neighbours. This gives rise to a sense of loneliness, of belonging in different places at the same time, of belonging everywhere but fits nowhere, of feeling pulled in competing directions. Knowing and sharing information with plenty of people, but nobody to actually talk to.
Knowledge fragmentation occurs with collecting many facts and knowledge regarding a topic or subject, of which we don’t really understand nor grasp the context and dynamics of these facts, let alone its connection and relation to other topics or subjects. One example is Google searches… plenty of info, but no context, which allows the addressing and solving of problems, to some extent issues, but is completely useless to adequately deal with wicked challenges… which are the major obstacle confrontations of the emerging and fast growing emotions economy.
With increasing technological capability, fewer people will be required to produce what we require to run our lives and we will be able to spend more time taking care of human interaction kind of tasks and less time doing manufacturing or intellectual tasks which can be automated, which – incidentally – is the main cause for the global rising of unemployment.
In the emotions economy, much functional work will be done by technology (artificial intelligence and algorithms) and the remaining core staff in any enterprise, will be focused on caring for clients, tailoring services for each specific individual, taking care of the client’s requirements and needs. These employees will be highly skilled, competent and emotionally mature.
The unavoidable outcome of the emotional economy focus, will place a far greater premium on caring for others and the ability to meet the needs of others in a way that is emotionally engaging and fulfilling. Leadership will be a core competency for each and every worker, and will be vital for every successful workplace role. Individuals who cannot manage themselves by exercising self-discipline – before leading others – will find it extremely difficult, even impossible, to find, obtain and keep meaningful work.