Fluidity

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  Genesis 1:27

I would never have thought that I would be writing on this topic. The premise is that your sex at birth does not determine your gender. This is the result of the LGBTQ movement which has lionized the Christian world for being “homophobic” or worse.  They often use the “hate” word.

The Christian view of male and female in Genesis starts with God creating man and woman in His image. He did not create “other”, nor did he assert that even if one is born one way, you can discover your true sexual identity over time.  We are, after all,  “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14).

As one writer notes, “our gender (at birth) is foundational to our existence.” Each gender is fully human and needed in order to represent the completeness of humanity.”  Amen.  

Call me old fashioned, but biology provides a definition of male and female. Each one has either an X or a Y chromosome in their DNA. That hasn’t changed, but what has changed is that the social sciences are now giving in to pressure from the LGBTQ community to redefine male and female to include transgenders and others. 

According to one publication, there are now 112 genders as of 2019. The idea of a binary male and female goes out the window.  One is “Anongender” which is a “gender unknown to both yourself and others.” Confused?  You are not alone.

The gender fluidity movement says, effectively, you toss out your birth gender and then choose which one you want. Your gender at birth is just a suggestion of who or what you are. It’s fluid, remember?

It defies science and also leads to some difficult life issues. Ask any therapist and they will affirm that gender confusion leads to some very bad emotional messes in life where depression and suicide are prevalent. I asked a Christian counselor friend about this post, and she said: “Great Topic!” 

Older generations are literally dumbfounded by this concept of gender fluidity. Nonetheless, it is out there, and it is infecting the next generation with concepts and faux “science” based on their concept of inclusivity.

One would be surprised at how pervasive this has become. Children’s books and textbooks are being rewritten to embrace this new idea.  No matter that it throws out thousands of years of social culture on its head. 

Proponents of gender fluidity argue that a binary choice of man and woman is a modern idea.  They never read Genesis. Sweden has adopted a gender-neutral environment in school so that there are no more boys and girls; they are referred to as “friends” and they don’t use “him” or “her”.

The same is happening in schools and colleges here in the U.S.

Still confused?  You bet.  To complicate it even more, the American Psychological Association (APA) has issued Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Menin 2018.  It is an attempt to describe what masculine behavior is (or should be, in their opinion). 

As one author notes, of the eight Guidelines offered by the APA, some are true, some are useful, but there is “one that is glaringly wrong.”  The problem? Well, the Guidelines assumes that all defining characteristics of masculinity is a learned social construct. 

Translated, your masculinity only comes from your environment. “Men are that way because they are taught.” Hmmm – what happened to things like testosterone or DNA?  Did anyone suggest that men were “created” in a certain way? 

She concludes (correctly) that whether God designed them (men) or evolution did, men are physiologically different at birth. Period. The APA and social scientists are denying this basic tenet.  

Gender confusion is now getting into Christian universities where one college, Azusa Pacific University (APU) recently redesigned its Standards of Student ConductAPU bowed to pressure from Brave Commons, an LGBT organization, who claimed that the original Standards “unfairly singled” out LGBT students. 

Now, at APU, gay romances are accepted, but sex and marriage between them is not. This is a slippery slope. The next step will be to accept gay (or other gender) marriage. 

This is challenging to everyone.  Christians need to educate themselves and the next generation about biblical truths and which are being obscured by a movement that is blurring what God designed. I have just touched the surface on this topic. Read 5 Things Every Christian Must Know in Further Reading for more.

I would be remiss in not saying that Christians are under a command to love others unconditionally, even those who insult and hate us. Jesus never promised that it would be easy in this day and time of gender dysphoria. 

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Mentors have to stay on their toes to answer questions about gender fluidity from the next generation. They need to be able to communicate to their mentees a correct biblical view on this topic. 

FURTHER READING:

Alphabetical List of 112 Genders?   Dude Asks

Sweden’s Gender-Neutral Schools

Much Ado About Gender Roles.  Christianity Today

Complementarians Issue New Manifesto on Gender IdentityChristianity Today

Psychology group offers a confused take on masculinity  World Magazine

Azusa Pacific Okays Gay Romance (But not Sex and Marriage)   Christianity Today

God and the Transgender Debate by Andrew Walker is available at Amazon and theGoodBook.com.

5 Things Every Christian Must Know About the Transgender Debate Andrew Walker

Teacher Fired for Refusing to Use Transgender’s Preferred Pronoun

WORSHIP:  Listen to Victor’s Crownwhich proclaims that “Jesus has Overcome the World”.

MentorLink:For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner and entering your email address.

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Arrogance

arrogance

The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day, Isaiah 2:17

 I used to joke that when I was 21, I thought I knew everything. When I was 31, I was sure I knew everything. But then at 41,  I realized how little I really knew at those earlier ages. Now that I am approaching 75, I can now see that I had a lot to learn even at 41.

Fortunately, I learned humility when I discovered I was not the brightest guy in the room.  There were others far smarter than me. God tends to humble the proud.

In a way, I was no different from today’s millennial. They might not know everything, but they think they do because it is on their hand-held digital devices.  But their knowledge often comes with a not so welcome guest: arrogance.

So, what is arrogance? It is defined as “attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions.” There were probably times in my life when I was arrogant but didn’t realize it.  Humility was not my strong suit when I was young and naive.

In a recent MentorLink Institute session on Skype with pastors around the world, one of the participants came up with a mathematical definition. He said “Anger + Pride = Arrogance.”

An example is the popular “kiss off letter” by college students to their parents. It notifies parents that they reject everything taught them because they are learning something different in college.

The letter ends with “PS: Please continue to send money.”  I am not making this up.

The attitude of superiority and entitlement affects both millennials and Generation Z.  Tim Elmore posits that one of the reasons for the rise of arrogance is due to an overload of information at their fingertips. It is also a rewarded behavior on social media. People who are assertive (and arrogant) appear to get ahead in life.

Research cited in Psychology Today is illuminating. A German study showed that “arrogant students (and arrogant people in general) need to feel dominant and superior”.

An extreme version of arrogance is the narcissist in our culture. They comprise about 30% of the younger population according to a recent study.  What is scary about that statistic is that it has doubled in the last decade, while the opposite trait, empathy, has declined by 40%.

Narcissism includes self-absorption,  egocentrism, and a general overestimation of ones’ importance leading to a sense of entitlement and a disregard for others.

Narcissists are never wrong. Ever.  Just ask them. “People are more narcissistic when they’re young: ‘It’s a self-absorbed stage of life’” according to research by a professor at Emory University.

Research shows that young people who face adversity early in life develop a “healthy sense of their limitations” so that it tends to diminish their narcissism later in life. In other words, people grow up by facing trials and failures, just like I did.

Many of the next generation have had bad parenting.  One parenting style has been described as the lawn mower parent,  replacing the helicopter parent who hovers over their children. This parenting style is one that wants to mow down any adversity that a child might experience in life.  Sadly, that means they don’t get to grow up normally.

Probably the best example of lawn mower parents is the recent  revelation  that wealthy parents cheated and bribed to get their children into prestigious universities over the last decade. Now the parents (and their undeserving children) will face the consequences, criminal and otherwise.

One actress and her husband managed to convince a University that their daughters were being recruited for crew, when in fact neither of them had ever rowed before.

Tim Elmore offers three suggestions on how to deal with students who think they know everything (even when they don’t). One of them is worth repeating here. He suggests putting the student into a context where they have to use their knowledge.

Link them with a non-profit that needs help or take them to places where they can see that their opinions don’t actually work in reality. Basically, you need to get them to broaden their perspective.

Colleges are now complicit in developing a student body to think only one way. Recently, a professor was forced to take a leave of absence at NYU.  He dared to take on the PC culture which mandated that he only think (and teach) one way. So much for academic freedom.

The challenge here is to recognize arrogance for what it is and what it is doing to the next generation. As noted, it has increased exponentially in an environment where the next generation has been protected from failure and adversity. They haven’t learned valuable hard lessons of the real world.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  A mentor who has been bruised by life along the way is in a position to walk beside the next generation and give them insights and perspectives that they haven’t experienced.

RESOURCES:

Tim Elmore:  Arrogance: What to do When Your Students Know Everything.

What Makes the Arrogant so ArrogantPsychology Today

Narcissists are Everywhere   Washington Post (2106)

Narcissism is Alive and Well in America Psychology Today

Lawn Mower Parents are the New Helicopter Parents   

Here’s What happened when I challenged the PC culture at NYU   Washington Post

FBI Sting of College Admission Cheating MSN

WORSHIP:  Listen to Christy Nockels sing You Revive Me.

MentorLink:For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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Lifetime Learning

learning

Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good. Job 34:4

A lot of folks think that learning is something you do in school, and when you are finished your education, you can relax. My experience was otherwise.

In my profession (law), there was a constant need to upgrade my skills and knowledge. One of my specialties was tax law which was not static and unchanging.

It only took new legislation or an important court decision to change your advice. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow if the underlying law changes.

I made it a point early in my career to increase my skills and develop new areas of expertise. It paid dividends in my career, and I was regarded as an “expert” by other professionals and colleagues.

In the last 20 years, states began to require lawyers to get called “continuing education.”  They imposed annual minimums of educational requirements in order to maintain a law license.

For me, that was never a problem because I was already accustomed to attending conferences or seminars in order to stay current on developments. Other professions (accounting, medicine, etc.) also have continuing learning requirements.

You don’t have to be in a profession to need or develop learning habits. People in business or other fields need to develop a lifelong learning mentality. In fact, having a yearning for learning is an important value for the next generation to embrace.

In today’s world, corporations, educators and politicians are all beating their drums for people “to continually upgrade their skills”  because of advancing technologies like Artificial Intelligence.

Some companies have internal training programs, but others want employees to educate themselves on their own time and at their own expense. Tim Munden, an executive with Unilever, PLC in charge of employee training says this: “We’ve put a huge emphasis [on learning] on shifting the responsibility to the individual.”

Mundens continues: “There’s no way on earth we can send people to enough training courses to make a shift we need to adapt to the world around us. People need to take that on themselves.”  Well said!

Some corporations are better than others. KitchenAid, a kitchen appliance company, has realized that the best way to retain employees is to “grow” them. They provide skills training to their existing employee base.

A manual job is no longer a “dead-end job”, but one which permits one to receive an education and aspire to a better position. Admittedly, this is not entirely altruistic, but the company has seen an improvement in employment retention.

The winners in the next decades will be those who take personal responsibility and initiative to develop lifelong learning habits.  The Wall Street Journal has an article with stories of six individuals who learned the importance of increasing their skills, and even what mistakes they made along the way.

Continual spiritual learning is important, too. A study shows that if a  person is not in scripture at least four times a week, they are not growing and are losing ground spiritually. Continual  learning is not just for careers.

While reading is important, millennials are not readers.  Still,  most of today’s news, books and information is available by audiobooks or podcast, which may have more appeal to the next generation who don’t read much. Even theDaily Skimmcomes in a podcast format.

For spiritual learning with the next generation, you can use the MentorLinks’ 40 Days with Jesus, or use The Bible Project which has video lessons on every book in the Bible.

The Bible Project uses animation to illustrate the narrative. Apps like YouVersion provides many resources including the ability to read the bible in dozens of versions.

My learning continues non-stop. I love to follow trends that affect our culture and so I get steeped in a broad range of subjects. I also love to read scripture.  My daily devotions are important for me to stay grounded.

The challenge is to encourage the next generation to see lifetime learning as something to embrace for a future world. They are facing potential job extinction from new technologies and AI. Having information in your hand  on your mobile phone is not enough to survive in a changing world.

Learning is not a “one and done” phenomenon which stops upon graduation. The next generation cannot rely on their employers to provide them with all the training or skills that they might need to advance. They need to learn self-reliance.  

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  If there is anything that will be more important to a mentee, it is instilling in them that their jobs are not safe from competition, either by others or technology. Their long-term success in their careers is tied to their willingness to become lifelong learners.

FURTHER READING: ‘I’m still Under Construction’; Six Tales of Lifelong Learning. WSJ, 2/22/2019

One Fix for the Worker Shortage Is to Grow Your Own

Wall Street Journal

The Daily SkimmPodcast and Email

WORSHIP:  Listen to Christ Tomlin sing Not to Us.

MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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Emotionalism

emoji

The sights you see will drive you mad. Deuteronomy 28:34

The millennial generation is tied to their emotions. According to the definition of emotionalism,  they tend to respond with undue emotion. They even make decisions based on emotion.

In a recent seminar with college students, close to 80% admitted to Jolene Erlacher, an expert on millennials, that they made decisions based on emotions, rather than using critical thinking, logic or reasoning. Unfortunately, emotions will only carry you so far.

Emotionalism carries over to their communication. “Their world has fewer words and a greater number of images” according to Tim Elmore.  Expressing nuanced emotions through graphics is fine, but their world is far more tied to deep emotions.

Using a smiley faced emoji doesn’t give a true insight into real emotions inside them.

We recently had dinner with a friend and his wife who we hadn’t seen in a couple of years. The dinner conversation turned sour when he started ranting about how he hated a particular politician.  It almost spoiled a nice evening. His hatred had no limits.

It was difficult to listen to someone who was so wrapped up in his emotions that he became irrational and belligerent.   That’s what emotions can do, even to someone who has a graduate degree.  It clouds judgment.

He is not alone today, although he is no millennial. But he has company with the next generation. The emotions displayed by him put the conversation into an “I’m right” and if you disagree, “You’re wrong” mode. There is no middle ground, and facts, logic, and statistics don’t matter.

It leads to uncomfortable discussions, even among friends. Civility and the ability to discuss a topic goes out the window. There was no openness to even examine another perspective.

Our experience with my friend shows a downside to living on your emotions. It can lead one into a “if it feels good”, it must be the right thing to do, even if reason and logic points the opposite direction.

You can see a form of emotionalism in  millennial communication.  They use emojis and emoticons freely.  Someone has described these as “new-age hieroglyphics.”

For background, emoticons showed up around 1982. These consist of punctuation marks, letters, and numbers to make an icon that reflects an emotion, such as “:-)” or its opposite, :-(.   They are often read on their side.

Emoji came from Japan in 1999 and the word means “picture” and “character” in Japanese. We recognize them as cartoony faces, pictures of animals, including those in the above graphic.

I see them on social media and my granddaughters reprogrammed my phone so I can create my own emoji.  I feel like I am still in Latin One trying to learn tenses of verbs.

What’s interesting is that because they are relatively new to the scene  our courts are having to deal with them to interpret what message was actually being sent. An emoji in a message can change the meaning of the words entirely. They are often used in texts between people.

A study concluded that 20% of people using an emoji in a tweet would have changed it if they had realized that it conveyed a confusing message.

Part of the confusion is that software developers have created their own emoji for their platforms. Microsoft emojis look different from Apple emojis which look different than Samsung emojis.

Communicating with emojis is not going away, particularly with a generation that has grown up with them. While I am fine communicating with graphics, I go back to my point in the beginning of this post which is that life is more than emotions.

I watched a short video last night where a U.S. Senator was interacting with a class of students who were taught to believe that a climate change agenda costing $93 trillion dollars was a good idea.  The Senator replied that while it was a lofty goal, the reality was that it was unaffordable.

The students reacted emotionally and said she was “wrong” in her thinking. Reality, facts or logic didn’t matter. They were right, after all.

Emotions do not replace critical thinking. It also leads to a tendency to ignore any other input on a topic that you have latched on to emotionally.  The antidote for emotional decisions is an open mind that is committed to learning and reading.

Our challenge is to help the next generation learn how to think, not what to think. Introducing things like The Skimm into their lives is a start at informing them about contemporary issues.

TAKEAWAY: A mentor can help mentees be open to new ideas and concepts, even if they are at odds with their emotions. A decision or opinion based on emotion can lead to a decision which will be later regretted.

FURTHER READING: The difference between emoji and emoticons.

Emojis in different platforms.

Courts having difficulty interpreting emojis.

The Daily Skimm can be seen here. It comes in a podcast, too.

WORSHIP:  Listen to Amy Grant sing Better than a Hallelujah.

MENTORLINK: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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Fleas

fleas

Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians. 15:33

My last post  focused on the benefits of having close friends. This post will focus on the flip side: the perils of hanging out with the wrong crowd.

The title comes from the saying “If you lie down with the dogs, you get up with fleas.” The biblical version of this is the verse above. Basically, you become what your friends are. You might have good character, but your peer group can corrupt you.

There are several variations of an old saying: “Show me your friends and I will show you your future.” In fact, people notice who you surround yourself with and will judge you based on that.

According to Randy Gravitt, a leadership coach: “Studies shows that you are the average of the five people closest to you.” If you don’t like where that is headed, it might be time to surround yourself with different people.

When we choose to associate with people, we tend to adopt or mimic their behavior, language and habits.  That’s what Paul is warning us about in 1 Corinthians 15:33. It was true then; it is true now.

A challenge to all adolescents is the age-old quest to find out their identity. They yearn for a sense of belonging and purpose. The search often leads to conformity with a group of people without a lot of thought about where it will lead them.

I have met with a young man for over a year. During our times together, we talked about how he could change friends in his peer group.  He was concerned about his own situation.

Fast forward to yesterday when I texted him to see if we could get together. His mother texted back on his phone that he had trouble with drugs and “a bad friend group.” They were putting him in a treatment center.

I was shocked. He is a high energy young man with a great future in life. He is unlike many of his generation (Generation Z) because he reads widely. He is interested in lots of different things. Our times together were fun and challenging because he always asked interesting questions.

I didn’t see it coming. His mother went on to say that she was grateful for my mentoring and loving her son and would appreciate my prayers for him.

Adolescents often don’t see the impact their peers can have on their life if they choose to hang out with the wrong group.  My young friend realized his plight but missed the chance to change his friend group in time.

I texted his mother back and said that, when he was ready, I would be glad to walk alongside him again.  Mentoring often involves helping a person recover from past mistakes and to help them make better choices.

Our text exchange came on the day that I was reading an interview of Jud Wilhite, the senior pastor of a church with multiple campuses and 20,000 members in Las Vegas.

One of Jud’s predictions is that addictions will be a huge issue for churches in the next decade. I’ve written about the dangers of drugs, but not about what influences one to take them.

Unfortunately, peer influence is high on the list of reasons that people get into drugs. If doing something is the norm in your circle of friends, you are more susceptible to making that first (but not last) step.  It only goes downhill from there.

A helpful article is one that lists 15 signs that people aren’t your friends. Number 12: “They are a bad influence and make you do bad things that gets you into trouble. ” Bingo. The article is a useful checklist for your mentee to evaluate his relationships.

The challenge is to help guide the next generation to choose relationships that will help them, not harm them. They might dismiss the possibility that their inner circle of friends has a negative impact on their lives. But the evidence shows that peer influence can make or break you no matter the goodness of your character.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Your role may be to check your mentee for fleas. If he has them, you can  help him get rid of the “junk in his trunk” such as a mistake he made due to the influence of bad company.  It can help him return to achieving his goals in life.  You can help him make better choices.

FURTHER READINGInterview of Jud Wilhite.

Are They Really Your Friends? – 15 Signs That Suggest Otherwise

WORSHIP:  Listen to You Never Let Go by Mat Redman.

COMMENTI would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at otterpater@gmail.com

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Friendship

friendsship

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.   .John 15:13.

Over 60 years ago, my mother told me that you can count your real friends on one hand.

I didn’t appreciate her wisdom for a long time, but it’s pretty accurate based on my own experience.  And now studies show exactly that: five is the magic number..

Of all the things in life that are underrated, I think forming a deep friendship with another person is high on the list. I’ve written posts on how to choose friends, the value of friends and even what real friends do for one another.

C.S. Lewis even commented on the need for friends:

The safest road to hell is the gradual one . . . the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts. This is why it’s so dangerous to do life alone.” 

Smartphones burst on the scene with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. After 12 years, we are now getting a look at what havoc it has caused to our relationships. Not surprising (to me, anyway), there has been a decline in true friendships in the past decade.

A recent study showed that social media has made most people’s friendships superficial and shallow. Another study of 3,000 adults concurred.  High social media use affected both the quantity and quality of friendships.

It turns out that our brain limits us as to the number of friends we can digest. The number is 150, including family, according to R.I.M. Dunbar, a Psychologist at the University of Oxford.

To have true connection with your closest five, you need to spend time connecting at least once a week. That takes time, which is another limit on relationships. If you love someone or are married, the number drops to 4.

For the next 15, you need to connect at least once every month, and once a year for the rest of the 150. Interesting stuff. The takeaway is that the more your spend time on a relationship, the stronger it becomes.

Social media doesn’t increase our capacity for friends, and the number stays at 150.  While getting “likes” is gratifying, it doesn’t replace face-to-face conversation.

In other words, if you have more than 150 “friends” on social media, the number above 150 is meaningless.  They are just acquaintances. They are not your friends.

Connecting means some kind of back and forth conversation which takes time. Fast forward to today where WhatsApp, Snapchat, texting, Instagram and Facebook have become platforms for interpersonal communication.

Jean Twenge,  who has researched this area,  has noted that FOMO  and increased use of social media has resulted in less time hanging out with friends. The result: increased loneliness and isolation.

The next generation (18-34) spends upwards of 43% of their digital use on apps, and adults in general spend over half their day interacting with media.  For the next generation, that’s 8 hours a day.

But what is it getting them? Shallower relationships, superficial friends and often loneliness and depression. Certainly not a friend willing to lay down his life for them.

A friend of mine went through a tough patch in his life. He did some pretty bad things which caught up to him.  I spent time with him in the aftermath.  I told him that the good news was that he would really find out who his real friends were.

Those who were shallow would distance themselves and abandon him.  He later came to me and said: “You were right; I now know which friends I can count on.”

This morning, I chatted with a friend, Steve Noble, who has started meeting with some from the next generation. He asked them a couple of questions. The answers didn’t surprise me.

None of them had a close friend that they felt they could call on in need, and none of them ever connected in any meaningful way with someone older.

In a challenging article in Christianity Today, Jen Thorn describes the 6 costs of real friendship:

Time, personal convenience, intimacy, comfort, love and prayer. This is a biblical view of what real friends do for each other. Lest I forget, every study I’ve seen reports that those who have close friendships tend to be happier in life. Nuff said.

I’ve had the good fortune to have close friends, but it has taken effort and intentionality. I’ve met with 2 other men for over 25 years weekly, and we share life together.

Proverbs tells us to seek wise counsel, and we have provided each other with invaluable support, direction and feedback through the years. I count my group as a peer mentor group, although we never gave it that label.

The challenge here is that the next generation is missing out by not having real friends. They need someone to come alongside and help them understand the importance of friends in their life. Real friends are the people who stick by you in the good times and the bad.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  In your interaction with your mentee, find out who his friends are (or aren’t), and encourage him to develop close relationships. It may be the best advice you can give him.

FURTHER READING:

Statistics on Cell Phone Usage/Addiction (2018)

More than a third of people can’t Live without smartphones:

How Social Media is Ruining Relationships

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?  Jean Twenge (Atlantic)

6 Costs of Real FriendshipChristianity Today

Social Media Addicts Struggle To Make New Friends, Keep Old Ones In Real Life StudyFinds

 WORSHIP:  Listen to What a Friend by Matt Maher

COMMENT I would be delighted at comments on this or any other post. You can comment by clicking on the icon at the top of the page or emailing me at otterpater@gmail.com

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner of the site (www.mentorlink.wordpress.com)  and entering your email address.

 

Amelia

blonde

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
Proverbs 16:9

Amelia has blue eyes and blond hair.  You might have spoken to her on the phone. She is smart: she speaks 20 languages and handle thousands of phone calls simultaneously. Amelia works for insurance and telecom providers, healthcare firms and 20 of the world’s largest banks and handles customer-service calls.

She is part of a world called “globotics.”.  She is a version of a white-collar robot, a part of A.I. (Artificial Intelligence).  She is designed to replace humans.

Amelia might not be as good as a human, but she is cheaper and never complains – she doesn’t get a salary or need medical coverage, child care or even a vacation. And she doesn’t get sick.  Nor does she pay taxes or fund welfare programs like Social Security.

Until recently, robots didn’t have human cognitive capability. Computers couldn’t think so the edge went to humans. No more. A form of A.I. has created computers with skills at reading, writing and speaking and even the ability to recognize subtle patterns such as cues on the emotional state of the person she is talking to.

Amelia isn’t alone. Her counterpart at Bank of America is Erica. Capital One Bank has one called Eno. If Amelia can’t answer a question, she will refer you to a real human and then listen in on the conversation so that she might be able to answer it the next time the question is asked.

Amelia has friends in the journalism industry, too. They are named Cyborg, Bertie and Heliograph. They work for the Washington Post, Forbes, AP (Associated Press) and Bloomberg. One third of Bloomberg’s financial articles are written by Cyborg using A.I. technology.

Scientists have gotten to the point they can create a robot brain that has its own self-awareness. Think of a baby in a crib that is figuring out its surroundings and what he can do/not do. Now robots can do it by themselves instead of being programmed by a human.

DARPA (the Pentagon agency in charge of emerging technologies) is studying insect brains (no, that’s not a misprint) because they are miniaturized yet have the ability to have a “consciousness.” They consider it to be the first step to training neural networks. Who knew that bugs are the next step in A.I.?

A caution is raised in creating a self-aware robot: “It’s a powerful technology, but it should be handled with care.” Essentially, robots are taught to think about thinking without being programmed.

Wrapping your head around these advances is a little hard, even for my friend, Ralph Ennis.  A futurist, he has been very concerned about the dangers of creating a thinking level of A.I. without building in a moral compass or biblical worldview. I agree with him.

I used to think that mostly blue-collar jobs would be impacted by robots: those with a high degree of repetitiveness which didn’t involve a lot of mental heavy lifting. Think of jobs such as someone taking orders at a fast-food restaurant.

I recently wrote in Humanics that new jobs competing with robots in the new economy will involve doing things only humans can do.  Now, I’m not so sure, because the more “human” capabilities that are being invented, the more jobs that might be made irrelevant.

Professions like medicine, accounting and even law will be impacted. Ralph thinks the medicine may be most affected, particularly in the area of diagnosis.

There are wide estimates of what the impact A.I will have on human jobs. Estimates range from 7% loss of all jobs to  1 in 5 jobs  2030. Some technology futurists go farther and predict robots will outstrip mankind in 50 years.

While A.I. may not take over journalists or editors jobs yet, one CEO  familiar with technology, Marc Zionts, advised his daughter, a journalist, to get acquainted with the latest technology:

If you are a non-learning, non-adaptive person — I don’t care what business you’re in — you will have a challenging career.”

Many jobs today that are considered so human as to be “safe” may not be that way tomorrow.  I believe Zionts advice is sound for the next generation.

The challenge is that A.I. technology is here to stay.  It may be disruptive to our culture and society. The next generation needs to stay on top of it and adjust the course of their careers to the changes.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Mentors need to encourage the next generation to continue learning about A.I. technology and be willing to adapt to resulting changes.

FURTHER READINGTeaching Empathy to Machines in WSJ.

White Collar Robots are Coming for Jobs in WSJ.

How Computers Could Make Your Customer-Service Calls More Human in WSJ.

DARPA wants to Turn Insect Brains Into Robot Brainsin Popular Science

Creating a Self-Aware Robot  TechExplore.

Robots that Can Think for Itself from Scratch

If 1 in 5 Jobs are Being Displaced, what does that Mean for HR.  Forbes, 2018

A System Will Warn You if Your Partner is in an Argumentative Mood.

Scientists Create a Robot that Operates on Its Own and can Repair Itself.

NY Times: The Rise of the Robot Reporter

WORSHIP: Listen to Christ Tomlin sing: I Stand Amazed (How Marvelous)

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