Agile Governments and the Survival in an Ever-Changing World

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Written by Winona Roylance

Presenter: Steven Kotler, author of Bold and Tomorrowland, Co-Founder and Director of Research for the Flow Genome Project

What if it were possible for governments to create brand-new, cost-effective infrastructures on a daily basis, to provide disaster relief almost instantaneously, and to create an education system that catered not only to every student in the country, but also to each individual student’s needs? Because most of today’s governments were designed in other centuries – some even in other millennia – many of these institutions have had difficulty tackling nationwide issues with the speed and efficiency necessary to keep up with the fast-paced world we live in. However, the introduction of new physical and mental technologies is not only leveling up the scale of private sectors, it also has the ability to transform government into an agile and flexible entity.

Through the use of these physical technologies – such as computers, robotics, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing – as well as mental technologies such as the concept of Flow, governments now have the capacity for rapid large-scale change in sectors across the board. With technology evolving exponentially, it is not only necessary, but also imperative that governments keep up with and adapt to these constantly evolving changes in an effort to solve nationwide issues with rapid efficiency.

Key Takeaways

Physical technologies are evolving at an exponential rate. Moore’s Law, which states that the rate at which technology evolves doubles every 18 months, has been observed in all technologies that involve information processing. Even more startling, it does not appear to be stopping anytime soon. This means that it is crucial for government to be as involved in technology as possible in order to not only keep up with technology’s rapid pace, but to be ahead of it.

Technology is increasing in computing power while decreasing in price. Since the introduction of supercomputers in the 1970’s, technology (such as your cellphone) has become a thousand times cheaper, a million times smaller, and a million times faster than its predecessors. In fact, 9 years from now it is projected that the average $1000 laptop will have the same computing power as the human brain; 25 years after that, the average $1000 laptop will have the same computing power as every human brain on the planet.

It is not only computers that follow Moore’s Law. Technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics, digital currency, virtual reality, sensors, 3D printing, solar energy, nanotechnology, and biotechnology are also advancing exponentially. In fact, biotechnology is advancing at a rate that is five times as fast as Moore’s Law, doubling in power every 4 months instead of 18.

“If you understand why agile government is now a possibility, you need to understand the technology that is available to us, technology that is now accelerating exponentially. Exponential growth is different than linear growth.” – Steven Kotler

There are an infinite number of ways that government can use this technology.

Technology can be used to level up the scale in all sectors, such as healthcare, finance, education, and even infrastructure.

China is already using advanced technologies for both infrastructure and social change. Through the use of 3D printing, China has begun to create houses that are both easily built as well as cost-effective. In fact, the Chinese government can now print 10 single family homes per day for only $5000 each, a process which both relieves poverty-related issues as well as assists in urban planning. This process can also be used for disaster relief.

The US is attempting to revolutionize the healthcare industry through new technologies. Mobile technology company Qualcomm is currently holding a contest to create the first tricorder – a hand-held device inspired by Star Trek that could be used to immediately diagnose patients with more efficiency than a board-certified doctor. With medical misdiagnosis being the third leading cause of death in the United States, technologies such as the tricorder are essential to the creation of an optimal healthcare system.

Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence can be used together to revolutionize education. With advanced artificial intelligence, learning can be customized to a student’s needs, desires, and learning styles. With virtual reality, students can experience individualized learning environments that fully engage their senses. Together, virtual reality and artificial intelligence have the ability to create a system that is fully distributed, customized, and independent.

 “Every day we are alive, we gain 5 hours of life expectancy – no exercise required.” – Steven Kotler

Mental concepts such as Flow can help people keep up with the rapid change of technology.

The human brain was not meant to keep up with the rapid pace of technological change – therefore, it is imperative that mental technologies such as Flow be implemented to maximize mental capacity. Flow is an optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best, and can be achieved in many different ways:

Flow is a specific mental state. It is when you feel so focused on the task at hand that everything else disappears – action and awareness begin to merge, you lose your sense of self, and time begins to pass strangely.

Flow is ubiquitous. Flow is seen in every individual around the world, regardless of age, race, gender, status, and other such factors.

Flow is definable and measurable. Flow can be found in neurochemicals in the brain, with five of the most potent – and pleasurable – chemicals appearing while a person is in Flow. In fact, Flow is the only time that all five of these neurochemicals show up in the brain at once.

Flow is the source code for happiness and well-being. Studies have shown that people who score the most on happiness and well-being scales tend to have the most Flow in their lives. Flow is present in gold medalists, art, major breakthroughs in science and technology, business – anything that encompasses human achievement. It is also the building blocks for creativity, motivation, and increased memory, with learning becoming 470% more efficient in Flow. Therefore, it is vital that governments get involved with Flow in order to better their own well-being as well as their citizens’.

Flow is present in both individuals and organizations. Top executives are 500% more productive in flow than out of flow. Even more startling, teams and organizations can also enter a state of Flow similar to an individual’s through complete concentration, shared goals and risks, close listening, familiarity, equal participation, and open communication. This means that individuals, organizations, and even governments can achieve a state of Flow.

Flow is hackable. There are certain preconditions that lead to Flow, such as passion, risk, novelty, complexity, immediate feedback, clear goals, creativity, pattern recognition, and a good challenge-skills ratio. In fact, studies have shown that we pay the most attention to the task at hand when the task slightly exceeds our skillset, thereby creating satisfaction when we overcome surmountable challenges.

Agile companies are already using Flow. In order to create more Flow within their company, Toyota uses the “Kaizen” approach, a philosophy which states that everyone in the organization is responsible for innovation. All ideas are open-sourced to employees and everyone is expected to contribute, which keeps everyone at the optimal challenge-skills balance.

Flow is not difficult. Steven Kotler and his team partnered with Google to run a 6-week joint project to study and implement Flow. Through the project, Kotler trained a team of engineers in four high performance basics using four Flow triggers. At the end, they found an increase of 35-80% in Flow – which doubled (or even tripled) the 15% increase needed to double overall workplace performance. Therefore, Flow is not only easy to achieve, it is also overtly beneficial to individuals, companies, and even governments.

“You can be 500% more productive and creative and double learning times with Flow – this is what is available to each and everyone one of us today, but what you do with this information is entirely up to you.” – Steven Kotler

Editor’s Note: The preceding is an essay from a special print report produced by Diplomatic Courier after the 2017 World Government Summit in Dubai, UAE. To read the full report download our free app on your device or view the digital edition here.