Human Intelligence and Transformative Technology

In This Podcast
Show Notes
Nichol Bradford
E 140

In This Podcast

  • The future of human intelligence 
  • Taste and the future of work
  • Redefining what it means to be human 
  • The web of life
  • Why the world needs more belonging

A lot of people believe the problems we’re facing on a global scale are related to tech, says Nichol Bradford, pioneer, innovator, investor and thought leader at the intersection of technology and human transformation. But the truth is, much of what we’re struggling with just boils down to a lack of belonging. 

“We craft these visions of the future where people can’t see themselves in it, they can’t see that they belong to it.”

In this episode of Corporate Unplugged, Nichol discusses the future of human intelligence and why there can be no digital transformation without a human transformation, and explains why change needs to come from the top.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast. Culture is a collection of people, and how they show up with each other every day, and how one shows up with other people has everything to do with how you show up with yourself. It starts with you. It always starts with you.”

To find out more, download and listen to this latest episode. 

Show Notes

There is no digital transformation without human transformation with Nichol Bradford

In the world today, where we need to be creative, collaborative and inspired, we instead find widespread stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, a lack of engagement and a sense of lacking purpose, says Nichol Bradford, investor via her seed stage venture fund, Nirmeia Collective, co-founder of Transformative, speaker, futurist strategist, and author. 

All the while, there is an extraordinary renaissance of human possibility and abundance with the digital transformation of pretty much everything around us. So, can we tap into the digital transformation fully without going through a human transformation? No, says Nichol, digital transformation and human transformation are interconnected. 

“One of the reasons why we’re seeing so much global unhappiness and disconnection is because our technology is on exponential curves, but the way we learn how to become healthy, happy humans, is linear and analogue.”

Where we used to have a reliance on institutions, like the church, telling us how to be and how to think, we don’t now. Instead, tech is forcing us to learn how to become human and connected to one another, says Nichol, something that we’re actually biologically equipped to do. And when we figure out a way to scale human transformation, we can usher in a new era of human flourishing. 

The future of human intelligence

The future of human intelligence, says Nichol, is about becoming generative and embodied, emotional and sensory. Everyone’s talking about generative AI, but that’s simply the latest tool to charm us, making us neglect ourselves, and neglect our own intelligence. By being generative, we work well with one another. 

“When you think of what’s left, when the current generative AI and large language models and image models get integrated into work streams, what’s left is humans solving problems together.”

This is what Nichol calls ‘intelligence being generative’. It’s about the questions we ask one another, versus what’s on the internet. And embodied is the intelligence of our bodies, e.g. everything from the gut biome, to our feelings, and emotions. 

We have 122 facial expressions, says Nichol, yet we only control eight of those. We’re constantly communicating with one another, constantly sensing each other. Most people also think we only have five senses – we actually have 51, and each of those represents a potential superpower. The future of human intelligence, says Nichol, is about getting emotional. 

“We have this myth in our society that it’s better to be non-emotional, but experiments have shown when you take the emotion out of something, people lose the ability to make decisions.”

We are deeply emotional creatures, says Nichol, it’s just whether or not we have emotional fluency, whether or not we’re skilled at being emotional in a way that allows us to have more sensibility and sensitivity as to what’s going on. 

“In the ancient world, only a few people could do these things. But really, it’s inherent for humanity, for all of us, to be able to have these abilities. And the way that happens is through science and technology. Technology takes what’s scarce and makes it abundant. If I had to choose between a world where only a few people could experience nature on its deepest levels, and a world where anyone who chooses to, can, I would take the second one.”

Taste and the future of work

It’s obvious now that AI is taking over more tasks than we initially thought it would. A year ago, the consensus estimates were 40-50% of tasks. Today, those estimates are 50-80% of tasks. So what’s left, what’s not being taken over by AI, are tasks where humans solve problems together. 

And there is nothing more creatively powerful than humans connecting with humans and creating things together, says Nichol. 

“The future of work is going to be about being good at emotional fluency, emotional skilling, the ability to lead teams, coach teams, be a leader from any role on a team, those are going to become table stakes to be highly compensated.”

The other thing that’s going to be vital, says Nichol, is taste. Given the influence of generative AI, in the not too distant future, everything is going to start to look the same. And so to flourish, you have to have a unique taste. Which means valuing your imperfections, finding out what your unique contribution is, what your unique point of view is, and cultivating taste. 

“Taste comes from experiencing things that you don’t like and forming an opinion. It’s the process of becoming an adult. And so the danger of recommendation engines is that it’s possible to end up in a place where you aren’t experiencing new things and thus developing taste.”

Leaders need to address their mummy/daddy issues

Leadership needs to address their MDIs (mummy daddy issues), says Nichol; we need leaders to be able to relate to their ego in such a way that they can reinvent themselves every couple of months, so they can keep up with the fast flow of new projects. The speed with which generative AI is influencing how we work, is not slowing down; if anything, it’s speeding up. 

“People are gonna have to be really, really flexible, which means they’re going to have to be able to relate to their fear, they’re going to have to be able to seek out support, they’re going to have to be able to reinvent themselves. And they’re going to have to be able to join closely with the people that they work with, to solve problems together.”

So, says Nichol, make that therapy appointment, your job depends on it.

Redefining what it means to be human

Henry Ford said man was a machine, that this is who we are, and that transitioned into man as a computer. But now, says Nichol, one of the reasons why people are so scared by what’s happening with AI, is because the actual machines are here. Meaning we have to change our definition of who we are. 

We have to ask ourselves – who are we collectively? What is humanity about? What do we want this world to look like? And to navigate what is going to be a period of uncertain times, we have to create a new definition of humankind, because the words we use are going to have a big impact on how successful we are at this transition.

“For the first time in history, we have politics, economics, technology, and culture, pushing towards humans having to redefine themselves in a more human and humane way. I have faith in us, I really believe in us.”

We’re all connected in the web of life

70% of people play computer games with others, says Nichol, hardly anyone’s playing a solo game. Just because you walk past your kid’s room and they’re alone, playing on their computer, it doesn’t mean they’re on their own – they’re playing with their friends. This knowledge (and data) spurred Nichol into co-founding Transformative, and becoming one of the first people to talk about mental health and tech, social health and tech, and to use digital transformation to initiate human transformation. 

“That was the major thing, the major point of transformation was feeling and believing for just a moment that I actually was not alone in this world. And wanting that for everyone else, for other people to know that they are not alone, and they never have been.”

In all companies, in all industries, says Nichol, every issue comes down to a people problem. So what do all businesses need to do right now? Be very more connected. A team that is 10% connected will be more effective than a team that is not. And so even just showing up on Monday morning, and taking the time and the willingness to connect to your team, that makes the tasks easier, says Nichol. 

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast. Culture is a collection of people, and how they show up with each other every day, and how one shows up with other people has everything to do with how you show up with yourself. It starts with you. It always starts with you.”

The world needs more belonging

A lot of people think the problems we’re facing are related to tech, or they’re related to beliefs, especially in the United States, says Nichol, a place that is incredibly polarised. But the truth is, the problems we’re facing boil down to belonging, or rather, people feeling that they don’t belong, or that the world around them is a place that they don’t belong in.

“We craft these visions of the future where people can’t see themselves in it, they can’t see that they belong to it.”

If the talk resonates with you, we’d recommend you listen to this episode too: Adam Gazzaley