TED技术:阿里·华莱士:用三种方法规划(非常)长远的未来

发表时间:2018-09-04内容来源:VOA英语学习网

TED技术:Ari Wallach: 3 ways to plan for the (very) long term

So I've been "futuring,"which is a term I made up —

(Laughter)

about three seconds ago.I've been futuring for about 20 years,and when I first started,I would sit down with people,and say, "Hey,let's talk 10, 20 years out."And they'd say, "Great."And I've been seeing that time horizonget shorter and shorterand shorter,so much so that I metwith a CEO two months agoand I said — we startedour initial conversation.He goes, "I love what you do.I want to talk about the next six months."

(Laughter)

We have a lot of problemsthat we are facing.These are civilizational-scale problems.The issue though is,we can't solve themusing the mental modelsthat we use right nowto try and solve these problems.Yes, a lot of greattechnical work is being done,but there is a problem thatwe need to solve for a priori, before,if we want to reallymove the needle on those big problems."Short-termism."Right? There's no marches.There's no bracelets.There's no petitions that you can signto be against short-termism.I tried to put one up, and no one signed.It was weird.

(Laughter)

But it prevents us from doing so much.Short-termism, for many reasons,has pervaded everynook and cranny of our reality.I just want you to take a secondand just think about an issuethat you're thinking, working on.It could be personal, it could be at workor it could bemove-the-needle world stuff,and think abouthow far out you tend to thinkabout the solution set for that.

Because short-termism prevents the CEOfrom buying reallyexpensive safety equipment.It'll hurt the bottom line.So we get the Deepwater Horizon.Short-termism prevents teachersfrom spending qualityone-on-one time with their students.So right now in America,a high school studentdrops out every 26 seconds.Short-termism prevents Congress —sorry if there's anyonein here from Congress —

(Laughter)

or not really that sorry —

(Laughter)

from putting moneyinto a real infrastructure bill.So what we getis the I-35W bridge collapseover the Mississippi a few years ago,13 killed.It wasn't always like this.We did the Panama Canal.We pretty muchhave eradicated global polio.We did the transcontinental railroad,the Marshall Plan.And it's not just big, physicalinfrastructure problems and issues.Women's suffrage, the right to vote.But in our short-termist time,where everything seems to happen right nowand we can only think outpast the next tweet or timeline post,we get hyper-reactionary.

So what do we do?We take people who are fleeingtheir war-torn country,and we go after them.We take low-level drug offenders,and we put them away for life.And then we build McMansionswithout even thinkingabout how people are goingto get between them and their job.It's a quick buck.

Now, the reality is,for a lot of these problems,there are some technical fixes,a lot of them.I call these technical fixessandbag strategies.So you know there's a storm coming,the levee is broken,no one's put any money into it,you surround your home with sandbags.And guess what? It works.Storm goes away,the water level goes down,you get rid of the sandbags,and you do this stormafter storm after storm.And here's the insidious thing.A sandbag strategycan get you reelected.A sandbag strategycan help you make your quarterly numbers.

Now, if we want to move forwardinto a different futurethan the one we have right now,because I don't think we've hit —2016 is not peak civilization.

(Laughter)

There's some more we can do.But my argument is that unless we shiftour mental models and our mental mapson how we think about the short,it's not going to happen.

So what I've developedis something called "longpath,"and it's a practice.And longpath isn'ta kind of one-and-done exercise.I'm sure everyone hereat some point has done an off-sitewith a lot of Post-It notesand whiteboards,and you do —no offense to the consultantsin here who do that —and you do a long-term plan,and then two weeks later,everyone forgets about it.Right? Or a week later.If you're lucky, three months.It's a practice becauseit's not necessarily a thing that you do.It's a process where you haveto revisit different ways of thinkingfor every major decisionthat you're working on.So I want to go throughthose three ways of thinking.

So the first: transgenerational thinking.I love the philosophers:Plato, Socrates, Habermas, Heidegger.I was raised on them.But they all did one thingthat didn't actually seem like a big dealuntil I really startedkind of looking into this.And they all took,as a unit of measurefor their entire realityof what it meant to be virtuous and good,the single lifespan,from birth to death.But here's a problem with these issues:they stack up on top of us,because the only way we knowhow to do something good in the worldis if we do it betweenour birth and our death.That's what we're programmed to do.If you go to the self-help sectionin any bookstore,it's all about you.Which is great,unless you're dealingwith some of these major issues.And so with transgenerational thinking,which is really kind oftransgenerational ethics,you're able to expandhow you think about these problems,what is your rolein helping to solve them.

Now, this isn't something that just has tobe done at the Security Council chamber.It's something that you can doin a very kind of personal way.So every once in a while, if I'm lucky,my wife and I like to go out to dinner,and we have three childrenunder the age of seven.So you can imagineit's a very peaceful, quiet meal.

(Laughter)

So we sit down and literallyall I want to do is just eat and chill,and my kids have a completelyand totally different ideaof what we're going to be doing.And so my first ideais my sandbag strategy, right?It's to go into my pocketand take out the iPhoneand give them "Frozen"or some other bestselling game thing.And then I stopand I have to kind of put onthis transgenerational thinking cap.I don't do this in the restaurant,because it would be bizarre,but I have to —I did it once, and that's howI learned it was bizarre.

(Laughter)

And you have to kind of think,"OK, I can do this."But what is this teaching them?So what does it meanif I actually bring some paperor engage with them in conversation?It's hard. It's not easy,and I'm making this very personal.It's actually more traumaticthan some of the big issuesthat I work on in the world —entertaining my kids at dinner.But what it does is it connects themhere in the present with me,but it also —and this is the cruxof transgenerational thinking ethics —it sets them up to how they'regoing to interact with their kidsand their kids and their kids.

Second, futures thinking.When we think about the future,10, 15 years out,give me a vision of what the future is.You don't have to give it to me,but think in your head.And what you're probably going to seeis the dominant cultural lensthat dominates our thinkingabout the future right now:technology.So when we think about the problems,we always put it througha technological lens,a tech-centric, a techno-utopia,and there's nothing wrong with that,but it's something that we have toreally think deeply aboutif we're going to moveon these major issues,because it wasn't always like this. Right?The ancients had their way of thinkingabout what the future was.The Church definitely had their ideaof what the future could be,and you could actually pay your wayinto that future. Right?And luckily for humanity,we got the scientific revolution.From there, we got the technology,but what has happened —And by the way, this is not a critique.I love technology.Everything in my house talks back to me,from my childrento my speakers to everything.

(Laughter)

But we've abdicated the futurefrom the high priests in Rometo the high priests of Silicon Valley.So when we think, well,how are we going to deal with climateor with poverty or homelessness,our first reaction is to think about itthrough a technology lens.And look, I'm not advocatingthat we go to this guy.I love Joel, don't get me wrong,but I'm not saying we go to Joel.What I'm saying is we have to rethinkour base assumption aboutonly looking at the future in one way,only looking at itthrough the dominant lens.Because our problemsare so big and so vastthat we need to open ourselves up.

So that's why I do everything in my powernot to talk about the future.I talk about futures.It opens the conversation again.So when you're sitting and thinkingabout how do we move forwardon this major issue —it could be at home,it could be at work,it could be again on the global stage —don't cut yourself off from thinkingabout something beyond technology as a fixbecause we're more concernedabout technological evolution right nowthan we are about moral evolution.And unless we fix for that,we're not going to be ableto get out of short-termismand get to where we want to be.

The final, telos thinking.This comes from the Greek root.Ultimate aim and ultimate purpose.And it's really asking one question:to what end?When was the last timeyou asked yourself: To what end?And when you asked yourself that,how far out did you go?Because long isn't long enough anymore.Three, five years doesn't cut it.It's 30, 40, 50, 100 years.

In Homer's epic, "The Odyssey,"Odysseus had the answer to his "what end."It was Ithaca.It was this bold visionof what he wanted —to return to Penelope.And I can tell you,because of the work that I'm doing,but also you know it intuitively —we have lost our Ithaca.We have lost our "to what end,"so we stay on this hamster wheel.And yes, we're tryingto solve these problems,but what comes after we solve the problem?And unless you define what comes after,people aren't going to move.The businesses —this isn't just about business —but the businesses that do consistently,who break out of short-termismnot surprisinglyare family-run businesses.They're transgenerational. They're telos.They think about the futures.And this is an ad for Patek Philippe.They're 175 years old,and what's amazingis that they literally embodythis kind of longpathian sensein their brand,because, by the way,you never actually own a Patek Philippe,and I definitely won't —

(Laughter)

unless somebody wants to justthrow 25,000 dollars on the stage.You merely look after itfor the next generation.

So it's important that we remember,the future, we treat it like a noun.It's not. It's a verb.It requires action.It requires us to push into it.It's not this thing that washes over us.It's something that weactually have total control over.But in a short-term society,we end up feeling like we don't.We feel like we're trapped.We can push through that.

Now I'm getting more comfortablein the fact that at some pointin the inevitable future,I will die.But because of these new waysof thinking and doing,both in the outside worldand also with my family at home,and what I'm leaving my kids,I get more comfortable in that fact.And it's something that a lot of usare really uncomfortable with,but I'm telling you,think it through.Apply this type of thinkingand you can push yourself pastwhat's inevitablyvery, very uncomfortable.

And it all begins reallywith yourself asking this question:What is your longpath?But I ask you, when you ask yourself thatnow or tonight or behind a steering wheelor in the boardroom or the situation room:push past the longpath,quick, oh, what's my longpaththe next three years or five years?Try and push past your own life if you canbecause it makes you do thingsa little bit biggerthan you thought were possible.

Yes, we have huge,huge problems out there.With this process, with this thinking,I think we can make a difference.I think you can make a difference,and I believe in you guys.

Thank you.

(Applause)

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