This Is Why Curiosity Will Rule the Future
Photo: Bill Jensen, CEO of the Jensen Group Photo Credit: Courtesy Bill Jensen
Bill Jensen, CEO of the Jensen Group | Courtesy Bill Jensen

A virtual conversation with Marcus Weldon, CTO at Nokia and President of Bell Labs in April.

What makes you, personally, future strong?

Weldon: “I have this deep desire to understand things. That drives me forward.

“I’m relentlessly inquisitive, which to many people looks like competitiveness. Because until that’s satisfied, I won’t stop. I think inquisitive minds or aggressive intellects are just not satisfied with whatever answers they’re given. So it’s not only ‘Why not?,’ but it’s also about finding another way around the problem. I’ve spent a lifetime of being relentlessly curious.”

AI Will Extend Our Natural Human Curiosity

“Too much of today’s work has turned people into automatons? —? automatic thinkers in regimented ways of doing things in regimented ways. Leaders must let go of that, remove it, and reinvent how people work. Because automated ways of thinking and doing will be done by augmented intelligence,AI and machines, assisting and augmenting human intelligence of all forms.

“We need a workforce filled with empowered thinkers who understand the need for quality exceptions, not just the rules and processes. That’s the interplay between our humanity and machines that we have to get right.

“That is a very exciting human existence! Where you are valued for your difference from the mundane and repetitive, and you’re given the discretion to act on your curiosity and initiative.”

Onto a Bespoke Future

“The future of work, leadership, and training, will focus people on the exceptional things, unique thinking and physical tasks, and not on the mundane tasks. AI is and will be better at ongoing and routine tasks than we are.

“So there will be a shift towards more sophisticated work, which will require societal education changes, as well as changes in corporate training and development. We need a workforce with greater sophisticated and bespoke thinking.

“That’s encouraging, in my view, because that’s not a genius attribute, that’s a human attribute.

“The other dominant factor in the future of work is local 3D printing. Why local? Because that will decrease costs, reducing supply chain needs and shipping costs. This will create a new area of employment, bespoke human assembly, crafting, and finishing what robots and local manufacturing could not do. There will also be human supervision of autonomous vehicles delivering the goods.

“Human brains and skills will be more valued. And it’s not just genius brains, it’s good driver brains, good assembly brains, good thinking brains. All of those become more valued, so I think that’s a relatively rosy future.

“I’d like to think that the net result will be an increase in jobs, because we’re moving towards humans doing bespoke tasks. With the right economics, I think it’s a better human existence than mass manufactured, with outsourcing and offshoring to get the economics to work. Deliver locally, build locally, think locally, but have the same economics as a global supply chain.

“What we have currently undervalued are people’s discretions, brains, empathy, and values within the context of each situation. This will change in an augmented intelligence future.

“Relentless curiosity by everyone will be highly valued.”

Bill Jensen is CEO of The Jensen Group, a Morristown-based organizational change consultancy. (SiteTwitter, Facebook)Bill is a futurist and author of eight books. His latest book, Future Strong, is about the five deeply personal choices each of us must make to be ready for all the disruptive tomorrows heading our way.

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