Coinciding this week, from 23 to 27 April, with the celebration of the prestigious Hannover Trade Fair, and the impact of this new industrial revolution under way that has been called Industry 4.0, yours truly was lost in daydreaming about the future: Artificial Intelligence, cybernetic systems, automated learning and the interaction of all these technologies for the improvement of processes.
Related to this latest research I could still hear the words of Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, announcing the imminent moment when intelligent systems would even predict market needs or opportunities, or design and manufacture products without the need for a human interface… Imagine the marketing, the supply chain and the manufacturing of the future guided by these Artificial Intelligence systems! …When I was startled by an alarm on the screen, “Mindfulness session today Friday, in one hour!”
When on earth did I sign up for a Mindfulness session?
The concept sounded vaguely familiar to me; my mind automatically pictured a group of people sitting on yoga mats and in forced postures in apparent concentration… You know, mind in a blank state, surrounded by positive energy and… It’s true, how could I have forgotten, I promised to go with my wife today, Friday, to one of those weekly sessions at her workplace!
You have probably already heard about this practice of “full attention”, with roots in Buddhist philosophy, and which in recent years has been integrated in classrooms and offices as a useful tool for “fighting stress”, being aware of the current moment and focusing the mind on the simple activity of each moment… I admit it, I never had patience with these philosophical exercises, nor do I fully believe in its benefits even though take as gospel all of these fantastic future scenarios of industry 4.0…
My mind was already hastily looking for a credible excuse, something truly unquestionable, to skip this unexpected commitment on a Friday afternoon when suddenly, as if it could perceive my lack of motivation, a new message. This time from my wife… a short reminder, one of those disarming dialogues from Winnie the Pooh and, on this occasion, his friend Piglet,
-What day is it today? – asked Pooh.
– It’s today – replied Piglet
– ¡Oh, my favourite day!! – Said Pooh.
You might remember the case of McArthur Wheeler, that guy from Pittsburgh who in the mid-90s became sadly notorious after robbing two banks in his city in broad daylight, his face uncovered… He didn’t even think about using one of those former president masks! His criminal career, as you may imagine, ended just a few hours after carrying out both robberies. When he was arrested, McArthur Wheeler confessed that he had applied lemon juice to his face, in the hope that the juice would make him invisible to the cameras. “I don’t get it, I used lemon juice”, he cried in disbelief when he was arrested… Apparently someone had told him that it was a perfect method to achieve the power of invisibility before any camera. A true story!
This case led to several studies that focused on the intriguing question: can the incompetence itself of an individual prevent them from being aware of that same incompetence? The most well-known of these studies was carried out by Justin Kruger and his conclusions are known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. Curiously, the greater an individual’s incompetence, the less aware they are of it. On the other hand, the most competent and skilled individuals were those who, paradoxically, most tended to underestimate their competence. The less we know the smarter we think we are.
The brief dialogue between a small bear and his friend the piglet suddenly made me aware of how far away from us our mind is, of how much we recklessly take for granted, or of the scarce importance we give to the present…
And now friends, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be leaving… it’s my favourite day and my first Mindfulness class awaits me.