Using TECHNOLOGY ACROSS the DEVELOPED & DEVELOPING world | Prof Anthony O'Driscoll | TBCY

Using TECHNOLOGY ACROSS the DEVELOPED & DEVELOPING world | Prof Anthony O'Driscoll | TBCY

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Welcome to another episode of The Brand Called  You. A vodcast and podcast show that brings you   leadership lessons, knowledge, experience and  wisdom from thousands of successful individuals   from around the world. I'm your host, Ashutosh  Garg and today I'm delighted to welcome a very,   very senior and accomplished educator academic from Duke University, USA, Professor   Anthony O'Driscoll. Anthony, welcome to the show. Thanks so much, Ashutosh. Great to be here.

Thank you. Professor Driscoll is a professor, speaker, author and advisor.   He's an adjunct professor at Duke University at  The Fuqua School of Business. He's published two   books on learning and organization performance  and achieving desired business performance and   hundreds of articles. And he has a new book coming  out, titled Everyday Superheroes, and we'll talk  

about it, I think this book has already come  out. So, Tony, before we get into your key   area of Information Technology, your key message  emphasizes that the key digital age differentiator   is not technology but people. Please help  me understand this with some examples. Great, well, my undergraduate  is electrical engineering. So I'm no stranger to   technology, and was very much of a techno  optimist, I would say, until the year   1993. And I was in an airplane, reading  an article in Wired Magazine by Bill Joy,   who was then the Chief Technology Officer at Sun  Microsystems. And he wrote a very influential  

article called Why the Future Doesn't Need Us? And  essentially, his argument was that if you think   about the actual definition of technology,  it's about the application of scientific knowledge for practical  purposes. When you say practical purposes, for   what? Well, it's not actually for what it's  for. Technology should be serving humanity.   And that's the purpose that whether  that's a language or a hammer,   or when we get into information  technology, I think over the last two decades,   essentially, because of the exponential nature  of technology, I'm starting to wonder if the   machine is using us more than we are availing  ourselves of the affordances of technology.   So in one way, none of these technologies would  exist without us creating them. In another way,  

when you're moving from a world where data is the  new oil, and we are the creators of that data,   then you start to think about, is technology getting out   ahead of us? So that's  why I want to bring some more   humanity back to technology in my own work. So you're really reinforcing that age old   comment that we become slaves to our own whatever devices we use all the time. Yeah. I've taken a little further and said,  maybe we're indentured data producing laborers  

working for server farm owners. But you  know, essentially, if you think about the work   that Tristan Harris and others have done. That's a question that we really have to explore. And I think a lot of  us are unconsciously tik-toking our way into it,   because that actually pausing to question, who's benefiting from having your   attention, command. Very well said. So moving on, we are in the middle of   the digital age. And I completely agree with,  the red flags that you are raising,   are we becoming servants or slaves of the  technology that we seem to have created?   But what are some of the challenges that we are  facing? And where does the accountability lie? Yeah, well, I think we might have a case a little bit here of  what Belmont called unconscious collusion.  

That's where everybody is in a circle thing.  They, they, they, they, they, they, they, they.   I think everybody has accountability here.  Whether that's government regulation,   let's just take government regulation.  Broadly speaking, there's kind of three different   regimes, if you will, in the United States,  companies can kind of own your data and   take advantage of your data. Of course, you  signed some licensing agreement, but you're in   such a hurry to download the app. You don't  read the 2000 pages. In Europe, obviously,  

with GDPR, they're essentially trying to give a  little bit more privacy back to the individual   through policy. And then I think in more  dictatorial regimes, perhaps most notably China,   like government has access to that data  and canon will do what they choose. So, there's accountability at the government level,  but there's different policies and then at the   individual level, if I think this is a truism, in  any case, if we're waiting around for regulation,   and we're not taking proactive steps as a society or as a citizenry, or as an individual,   we're also part of the problem. So I really  think that accountability and responsibility   is at every level. And that  we can't just rely on someone else, some other institution or  some other organization to take care of it.   So it almost has to transcend all  those boundaries, in order for us to not just get sucked in to a never ending flow  of data and and become untethered and unmoored   from what it means to be human and what it  means to feel grounded and what it means to feel   connected in a very human way. Even now, through this technology,

we are connecting or having a meaningful  conversation that's very different than just   sitting there and passively consuming material.  I had a conversation with my son yesterday.   It's finals week here in the United States,  final exams. And for AP English, Advanced Placement  English, you're supposed to read a book.  

And I'm like, if you're watching the movie,   you're watching somebody else's interpretation  of the words on the page. You're not using   your imagination. You're passively consuming.  You're not actively engaged. Of course,   that argument fell on deaf ears, because  I'm in a hurry to do other things. But I think   sometimes we just need to pause a little bit. No, no, you're so right. But yet,   you know, and I'd love to get your perspective on  how the wide disparity in using technology across   the developed world, the developing world, it is going to be managed. Because the  

developing world this is very aspirational. In the  developed world, this is invasion of privacy, and   everything that you and I are talking about. How do we manage this imbalance in our world? Well, just as I said, there's the  government level, there's the company level,   and then there's the individual level, there's the culture, societal level. And then   there's the individual level, which is take those  four levels. I think that culture really matters.   And I know, that's something you talk a lot about  on this podcast, kind of just as my good friend,   John Davis, chatting about before I  came on air. I also, you know, I grew up,   I sound American, but I'm actually from  Ireland, but I grew up all over Africa and Asia,   as a child, because my father worked in the  UN. And so I've come to understand that

culture really, really matters.  It's the assumptions, you know longer question   that are just so wherever you are, and  that's fine, if you are wherever you are,   but when you move from one place to the other,  and you start to look at things say, Well,   that's the stupidest thing I've ever seen.  Why do they do that? Come up in that culture,   we're not assimilated in my culture, and you did  not come up in that culture, you were in a similar   culture. And one of the very hardest things  to do is to embrace that difference.  

And try to comprehend why it is that way,  and perhaps even adopt that if it is better,   different, more open. So I think culture really  matters. And so if you have a culture or a society   that is more willing to deal with a strong leader,  or more willing to compromise some freedoms   for whatever, then you could have a different  kind of regime. So I do think that   that's the case. Another thing that I think is  very important to talk about here, though, is  

when the World Wide Web was created, think about  what it was called, World Wide Web. The idea was   http://TCP/IP protocol. It came  from DARPA, we all know that story that it was   essentially a flat topological structure that  was non hierarchical. That's very interesting.   As an engineer, if you think about the fact  that you've created a network that's supposed   to be a flat topological structure, and now you  bolted it on to the bottom of a company,   which is built on a hierarchy, a military,  which is built on a hierarchy, of a government,   which is built on a hierarchy. Essentially,  it's flattening the technology, by definition is   flattening and opening. Now, what's happening now  though, is we're starting to get a splinter net.   This has gotten Malcolmson's work. So now  we're seeing the different regimes will or won't  

allow different technologies. An example might  be Huawei and the big argument going on in   the United States about that could be a 'security risk'. All right. So now we're   starting to see, in India, you have the  fantastic work that Nandan Nilekani did with the   universal ID program and your infrastructure is  probably second to none. In fact, Bill Gates call   that the biggest IT project on earth when Nandan took that challenge on after leaving Infosys. So different countries now not  only have different philosophies, but they're   building different technological stacks that might  have different technological role. Now,  

if you layer on top of that, there's another very  interesting thing that's going on. It used to be   if we want to in the old world, when my dad was growing up the UN, we used to   call it first world, second world, third world,  thankfully we've moved beyond that. But if I   say in the old world, I'm referring back to those  days, developmental economics, the philosophy was   as follows. If you can open up the purse  strings, if you can open up the marketplace,   you will then eventually open up government.  In other words, if disposable income goes up,  

individuals who have now built a nice house  with a nice view, will not be willing to, for   the government to say we're moving your house, because we want to build a highway, you see what   I mean? But now, when you're  growing up, you have what we call catch up growth,   which means you build roads, you build  infrastructure, you build reservoirs, you build,   that kind of thing. And then you've  got cutting edge growth, which is innovation. And the theory used to say, innovation is really  messy, and it needs to be like Silicon Valley,   and you need to fail and all this kind of  stuff. And it's really hard to manage, it's   easy to manage catch up growth, how many high  speed rails do we need? How many roads and   bridges do we need, but when you get to, what's  the new form factor for information consumption,   you have to do a lot of things before you  figure out it's the iPad or the iPhone. So   there's a lot of failures before.  Now here's the issue though,   the issue now is as we're moving into  a world where data is the new oil, data becomes the most important resource because  it's data that needs to train the machines for   autonomous vehicles to work without traction. So  now you have a different challenge. The challenge  

here, when we start talking about economic growth  in a data driven AI/ML world does an autocratic   regime that controls the data have actually  disproportionate leverage because they can command   that resource, and then train. So here's the  thought experiment, Xi Jinping already said   electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles are  on the roadmap. That's another element of those kinds of regimes. America has also  said it, so you got the Elon Musk's of the world   doing what he's doing in that regime. The truth  is, though, if you're going to need to understand   how to train an autonomous vehicle to navigate a  place like New Delhi, or to navigate places like   Shanghai or to navigate a place like Chicago,  you're going to need to agree that whatever,   the 10 kilometers, right downtown are going to be  autonomous only, no other cars are allowed in, they   will then we'll know what to do. In a dictatorial  regime, autocratic regime will have more control   over that particular situation. So the question  that's open now is number one, culture. Number two,  

kind of regime. Number three, then the role of  controls the data. But number four is, in this   particular instance, and we're talking about  machine learning and artificial intelligence,   having control of that data unquestioned.  Imagine here's the final thought experiment.   Could you actually get this done in Shanghai  faster than you could get it done in Chicago?   Absolutely faster in China. Chicago would be five layers of government all the way down to  

town councils. All of that would have to be kind  of, again, I'm not knocking the democratic   process. I'm just suggesting that. Oh, you're absolutely right. You're absolutely   right. I mean, that's another debate. We  can have some other time.

How much democracy is good for every  country. I had a very interesting conversation with  Nandan Nilekani about this very point. I don't know if we should talk about it now. But we'll talk about it. Maybe we'll try and   get you on one of our show  together and talk about democracy.   But I'm gonna keep moving on. I'd like to  move now to your book, Everyday superheroes.  

Yeah. Tell me a little bit. But before we  get into the book, is the book available   on Amazon and all the other platforms? Yes, it sure is. It's on Amazon right   now. It's available. It's been out, I think a  month or so. Yeah, just a month and a half. Show us a copy, that would be very nice.  

So I'm  gonna definitely order my copy and I'm going to   ask all our viewers and listeners to go to  Amazon and check out Professor O'Driscoll's book.   But now tell me a little bit about the  book, your hypothesis in the book? Yeah. So the book came about by doing actual  detailed research for an institution called the   Project Management Institute, which a lot of  people know about. Project Management Institute  

is essentially a very large kind of body that  essentially trains Project Managers. And   it's a fungible credential, if your PMI certified,  you could move from GlaxoSmithKline to IBM to across industries, because it's like  the basic blocking and tackling of on time,   on budget, in scope. And they recognized,  as many of us have that 70% of the time,   the Express strategy, the strategy that a company  says they want to pursue, in order to create value   doesn't get realized, it doesn't come to fruition.  Now, that could be because of an external   variable, like some kind of disruption of COVID.  Or largely because of internal variables, culture,   I'll come back to culture, we're just talking  about culture at the kind of macro   level. But now let's talk about culture.  And you've run many companies yourself. So   I'm sure you probably agree. I had the great  fortune, I think one of the things in life is  

is I think your life is determined by the  amount of mentors you've had in moments. And   so I had at one point in time, when I worked  at IBM, I worked for a gentleman named Larry   Prusak. And Larry Prusak was the founder of  Knowledge Management. And he wrote a very influential article in Harvard  Business Review, called People Make Organizations   Stop or Go. And I think that's true. I  think that if you can have all the technology and   all the process and all of the kind of metrics and  all of the measures, but if people don't believe   in the change that's being imposed upon  them, they won't behave in a way that   makes the organization change. So one of the  premises of the book is belief before behavior,   that people don't resist change, per se. That's  why we're still here and Dinosaurs aren't.   We are adaptive species. But  they resist being changed.  

Don't tell me what to do. All right. So the  premise of the book is essentially,   everyday superhero. Everybody in an organization  can be a superhero. But in order for them to be so   you need to unlock their discretionary effort.  Now, what is discretionary effort? Discretionary   Effort is what they want to do, because  they want to, not because they're told to.   Another way to say that is what's their source  of meaning or purpose. And if you can tap into   each individual source of meaning or purpose and  create autonomy, plus accountability, you unleash   the capability for an organization to be adaptable,  to be responsible. When I say responsible,  

I'm saying response. Organizations have to  be far more agile, and responsible, response   able than they were before, because the world's  far more unpredictable given everything we've   just dealt with between COVID, Ukraine, 2008  financial crisis, the year 2000. Remember y2k,   we thought every machine was going to stop. And by  the way, unfortunately, this is just the beginning   of what we're going to see in terms  of things we didn't anticipate that   would happen that are actually happening. Wonderful. So I've got time for   two more questions, and I'm going to move back  to technology and Everyday Superheroes and how   technology seems to be impacting everyone with  the advent of the metaverse where everybody seems   to be now talking about the metaverse without  really understanding what the implications are.   I'd love to get your perspective. Now, I'm not sure if you know this or not,  

but when I worked at IBM Research, I actually  spent three years deeply researching the   metaverse last time, a decade ago. In fact, my  last book Learning in 3D was all about this. And so I think the metaverse it's one of those  things. If something is truly transformational,   there's this real paradox about  it. It happens slowly, then suddenly.  It's everything's stable.  And then there's a shock. It's   overhyped in the short term, but underhyped  in the long term. So this is where I  

would categorize the metaverse, if you're  familiar with the Gartner's hype cycle, or what?   The Metaverse right now, it's become a vernacular  and when something becomes a vernacular,   then it can mean anything that it means to anyone  and anytime and that's a problem. But I   do believe and this is based on my prior research  when I was at IBM research that this time around,   this is going to be truly a differentiator.  I felt 10 years ago, it could be   I think, there were two key barrier  there were both technical. Well, it was a   cultural barrier and a technological barrier.  But the technological barrier was bigger. The capacity in each client and each computer  to actually render out the graphics was a problem.  

And the capacity to actually do that over the  air was one. Both of those are no longer problems.   We've been through five different generations  of technology inside the client laptop. And also gaming has really driven this  so. So if my kid wants to play fortnight or Halo,   they're using the kind of computer that you would  have spent 10s of 1000s of dollars 10 years ago,   so that's not a problem. And with 5G,  we're done. So there's no latency. And there's   the processing power of  computers is there and the rendering is full. So I  

think there's no technological hurdle anymore. The other thing   I'll say is, I think there's a really, really,  really big gulf here in that the Generation Z.  They   are quite familiar with navigating meta versus and  having multiple identities and popping into   whatever Instagram with their  avatar, so on so forth into TikTok and   creating their own kind of content into fortnight  and doing what they have to do in fortnight.   So they're quite facile and comfortable moving  into different contexts that are not just oh,   I'm in PowerPoint and now I'm in work with user different  meta versus. Now, if you're a technologist,   which I am, what you got to do is you got to look  at what makes the metaverse different. And I've  

got seven sensibilities that I talked about that  make the metaverse difference. One is the sense of   self. When you are inside a Metaverse, your avatar  is your cursor. So you have agency   inside the environment. That's very different than just observing because   you're actually now in the space. At a distance  means you and I could both be in a room, I still  

feel like we're someone at a distance here because  I see your screen and now you're in New Delhi.  The power of presence, when you're co present, we're together right now. But we're split screen. When you're co-present even  with your two avatars. We know this from research,   that co-presence really brings the possibility  of creativity together. Sense of space,   you can now not just be anthropomorphize as a  human being, you could go in and be a ribosome in a cell or you could go be a planet,  you could experience what it's like to   be something other than yourself to get a better  understanding of cellular biology or planetary   ecosystems. The capability to co-create, this is  one of the things that all other companies IBM,   Cisco, everyone back then was looking  at is can we actually have aha moments   eureka moments, Archimedes moments  at a distance? Can we facilitate   innovative, co-creative thinking at a distance?  We can teach people stuff at a distance. But can  

we actually have that? I firmly believe  you can. This is what all  of the games where the Warcraft fortnight,   my son, they go watch videos of  what they've done to try to make it better. So   you're only limited by how much  practice and then the enrichment of experience   that you can have truly transformative  experience inside the virtual world just as you   can inside the physical world. Let me give an  example. At Duke, we don't anymore,   but we had one of 10 things called DiVE, Duke  Immersive Virtual Environment. I am Irish. I   have a phobia. It is a phobia about snakes.  That's St. Patrick's fault. He banished all  

the snakes from Ireland, and now live in America,  lots of snakes, they freak me out.   So there's a phobia treatment where they put you  into this DiVE, Immersive Virtual Environment.   And then they say, Okay, you are now standing  in a white room. And you look around, yes, I'm   in a white room. And then they hit a button,  and all of a sudden, it's like, you're Indiana  

Jones in the snake pit. And your whole body  just freaks out. But the therapist is saying,   Now listen, you were just in a white room. But the  point is, your mind doesn't know the difference.   You see. And so the enrichment  of experience, the use of VR technology,   even back then, when I was doing the research,  for post traumatic stress disorder, is very,   very powerful. So I think if you understand  those seven sensibilities, then you get freedom,  

you can create experiences where you have flow,  repetition, experimentation, engagement, doing   observing and motivation, freedom. And so I think if we design the metaverse correctly,   and we don't fall prey to something  I call the utilization trap, which is   if I see another classroom with a whiteboard and  and desks and avatars sitting in the classroom,   shoot me because we then we've just recreated  the old paradigm in a new world where we can   have something completely different and that's  just an education. So that's my two points. This is fantastic. And someday I'll reach  out to you for a longer conversation on  the metaverse given that you worked on it  10 years ago. But my last question to you,   and I'm going to ask you to wear your professor  hat all over again. And this is for the thousands of   people who will listen to our conversation  in India and the US. What would you say are  

three lessons you would want our young viewers and  listeners to take away from our conversation? Well, the first lesson  I will say, because the audience,   I teach in the Masters of Engineering Program  and the MBA program at Duke University.   And this is more drawing from experience  to the Masters of Engineering students,   because I was one. Those students come in to do  an MEM program, Master of Engineering Management.   And I guess my first lesson, if you're a student  it's not about the grade, it's about the learning.   So I often ask my students at the end of  class, what class did you learn the most? And   they'll say, Oh, it was this class or  that class. So what grad did you earn? Oh,   I earned this grade. But I should have gotten a  higher grade of that. I said, that doesn't matter.  

When you are educating at a collegiate  level or a master's level, particularly.   It's not about the grade. It's about how  much you've learned. And unfortunately,   those two things don't necessarily correlate. So  that's one. So one is, it's about the learning,   not the measurement. The second, I would say  is, follow your curiosity. For me,  

I think if you following your curiosity, you're  always going to be motivated intrinsically to   figure things out. And so I think that will  be the second one. And the third would be,   listen with humility. Because none of us  is as smart as all of us. And if you encounter someone or something that's  at odds with what you currently believe,   don't assume that what you believe. I'm  a big fan of having strong opinions   weekly held, does that makes  sense? So I'd say those things learning,   curiosity and humility. Fantastic. Tony, on that   note, and your amazing three lessons  of learning, curiosity and humility.  

Thank you so much for speaking to me. Thank you  for talking to me about your journey. And thank   you for talking about information technology, and  all that's happening in the digital age. And I think we've just began to start  talking about it when we run out of time, but I   could have many, many, many conversations,  because I know our audience will love it.  

And thank you for talking to me about Everyday  Superheroes. I mean, I think that is a very,   very powerful communication that I think  you're making through your book. One thing about the book just very quickly,  it's not actually a book. It's a graphic novel. Thank you for listening to The Brand Called You,  videocast and podcast. A platform that brings   you knowledge, experience and wisdom of hundreds  of successful individuals from around the world.  

Do visit our website, to watch and listen to   the stories of many more individuals. You  can also follow us on YouTube, Facebook,   Instagram and Twitter. Just  search for The Brand Called You

2022-07-10 03:34

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