Je suis Sagacity
Listless leaders and a society in slumber We are here to bring people together and not leave them asunder Mindfulness, compassion and curiosity abounding It is our courage and passion that is so resounding Whilst others only see what is; we see what ought to be This is not due to fancifulness but rather admirable audacity As we seek new insight and challenge our assumptions The status quo will be tested and not left to presumptions The age of wisdom has arrived Despite the fools who leave us deprived There are mountains to climb and furrows to dig Nothing is impossible and no dream is too big!
“Dream but don’t make dreams your master
Think but don’t make thoughts your aim”
What is the singular most impressive dream or vision that you can think of both past and present??
Putting a man on the Moon?
Singularity University has a dream to solve the world’s most urgent problems by leveraging off technologies that can make an exponential impact (and its vast network of powerful alumni the power of which almost exceeds or maybe transcends its technologies)
Durban’s dream is to be the most caring and liveable city in Africa
(I’d like to add to this and say the world)
These dreams may not naturally gravitate towards one another but they must be made to. In fact both will struggle to come to fruition without them overlapping.
“Our technology greatly exceeds our humanity…” was said during the nuclear era and is equally if not more so relevant today in the age of AI.
Within this statement lies the tension that connects these two dreams:
Technology’s ability to turn a dream into a nightmare
Our humanity, our ability to care, to tame the tech, to domesticate it and make it serve us and not us it.
(The greatest distances still to be traversed is still between the hearts and heads of mankind, what we feel and what we will allow ourselves to think possible.)
And so you see we need to introduce our unique weapon that is developing and busy growing in Durban and that is Empathy
It is the great weapon of mass construction and so let us rewrite Einstein’s energy equation.
Empathy = meaningful Compassionate Consciousness
Where consciousness is referred to as our mode of being and just as different modes of transport get us from A to B so what mode of consciousness will elevate us to that “higher plane, greater scope and larger capability” where the world’s most pressing problems can be overcome.
“C” would normally stand for the speed of light and the assertion can be made that if we are able to enlighten or educate with empathy the collective consciousness of our society that immense latent energy could be unleashed and released into the world and spread at a speed that light would envy. This is something David Bohm, a nuclear physicist and part time social theorist, believed that if we are able to host participatory and collective dialogue that we could do what prior discussions could not and that is simply to make common ideas with a gravitational pull that will bring us together.
The most dangerous ideas in a society are not the ones being argued but the ones that are assumed (CS Lewis) and it is here where true and authentic dialogue is so incredibly necessary.
Equally so our apathy is just as dangerous as it can suffocate our aspirations and make us cynical and blind to what is possible.
Before we unpack empathy further some context is necessary as to its unique relevance.
I think we can all agree that we suffer from an almost world wide drought of direction from listless leaders who are struggling to grapple with the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world we live in.
And so at Sagacity we believe that leaders are only as powerful as the IDEA they communicate; that ideas are a process of discovery and that the true voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new EYEs. (Marcel Proust)
(A process that is all too familiar to Singularity U)
There is a lot to unpack here and so the question that begs to be asked is how do we develop new eyes??
At Sagacity we propose that one develops new eyes by
“Empathy is the highest form of understanding and knowledge; it requires profound purpose and larger than self-kind of understanding; it requires the suspension of the ego and living in another’s world” (Bill Bullard)
We call this type of leadership Adventurous African Citizenry - and it is the centrepiece of the Sagacious Narrative.
That just like the stars and planets have a gravitational pull, so do ideas - the bigger and bolder the idea the greater the pull.
Again we need to keep asking, “What is our Massive Transformative Purpose”. Are our ideas sufficiently big enough that they both scare us and have a strong gravitational pull.
Our dream is simple:
That the following can one day be said of the ordinary citizen:
“We are a people who value thoughts and ideas”
We have a proclivity to reason before resorting to violence.
That populism and xenophobic attitudes will not take root in our soil.
That we invite debate, discussion and most importantly dialogue.
Is this possible when so much emotion is attached to so much and as a privileged class what is our place in all this?
Those here who are from Durban or even visitors who have not been here a long time I am interested to know what is it about Durban that you love? What sets it apart or attracts and draws people to it?
My Grandpère regales the stories of his large Durban family who came from Mauritius (a very large and extended one) and there was a phrase that kind of encapsulated what I am trying to convey and that was:
Joie de vivre
The joy of living, a philosophy of life, of exuberance found in the joy of everything and how in Durban this can overflow into our warm and inclusive nature and I also believe that this nature of ours predisposes us towards the beautiful African philosophy of Ubuntu - I am because We are - This cannot be achieved without developing new eyes through exercising your empathy.
You see like our lush forests & estuaries so too can Durban also cultivate a culture as a compassionate community where empathy flourishes and is abundant & its constituents seek commonality.
This can be Durban’s great Competitive Advantage & differentiator and its most valuable export
In Durban’s vision they understand the importance of becoming a Smart City and there is a lot that can be gleaned from countries like Estonia who are leading the way in that regard.
(Estonia has introduced an AI robot Judge that is clearing their judicial backlog.)
It is difficult to fathom this but what the internet did to communication, so block-chain will do to trust and trust is a hard commodity to get a hold of these days.
I am curious to know which age is about to come to an end and which age are we moving into? What are some of the prior ages that we have moved through? Are we making progress?
In the Age of Wisdom we are now entering, with AI being able to do all the heavy lifting for us, we are in dire need of strong leaders. But with the smartest and brightest minds generally drawn to financial services where will they come from?
That’s the beauty of AI is that it is going to replace certain technical jobs and force us into the realms of the subjective, into the arts, into actual application of our true cognitive functions and towards the initial purposes of what education reached for at its ancient inception….
Things are coming full circle as AI replaces technical jobs and we migrate back to talented individuals becoming involved in People centric decision making, communication and strategy.
When programming the decision making of an autonomous vehicle to make the decision between avoiding the death between two parties where the death of at least one is unavoidable…
How do we begin to program that and are we mature enough to do so?
(Artificial Intelligence will come to mirror our own collective moral integrity)
At Sagacity we invite Intellectual playfulness but this is insufficient in and of itself and that the great aim of education is not knowledge but action. (Herbert Spencer)
This attitude of discovery is through Exercising Your Empathy...new eyes and that it is worth being reminded that empathy is not an absolute but rather an imperfect pursuit.
South Africa having come out of more than one winter in having defeated Apartheid but in also losing the last decade, that in the midst of these winters we have found within us an invincible summer (Albert Camus) and this is something we must cling to and build off. Rivers do not carve through mountains because they are strong but because they are persistent and we must persist. Structural change is possible and what currently persists is not all that can exist.
(John Stuart Mill predicted that by the year 2030 we would stop needing to measure progress by GDP growth...what would we use and is this then the time to usher in a post-consumerism era??)
In the beginning of this talk I asked you what the singular most impressive dream or vision was and I purposefully restrained the Sagacious reply to this question; and this is what is:
On the larger cathedrals the people who made the plans or lay the foundation could be 2 or more generations away from seeing their vision come to fruition.
Trans-generational thinking is what is now required of our generation to lay the foundations for the massive tasks yet to be undertaken.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION AND ITS INTENSITY
I hope that if you do not leave today a lil’ more enlightened that you at least you will leave inspired and that you will believe in our generation’s ability to dissolve the tension of Taming the Technology and how through having and seeing through new eyes that Durban’s dream of being the most caring and liveable city can come to fruition. I have no doubt that SU will play an exponential role therewith.
Je suis Sagacity
Listless leaders and a society in slumber We are here to bring people together and not leave them asunder Mindfulness, empathy and curiosity abounding It is our courage and passion that is so resounding Whilst others only see what is; we see what ought to be This is not due to fancifulness but rather admirable audacity As we seek new insight and challenge our assumptions The status quo will be tested and not left to presumptions The age of wisdom has arrived Despite the fools who leave us deprived There are mountains to climb and furrows to dig Nothing is impossible and no dream is too big!