Embracing the "Brain Update"

Feb 28, 2024 5 Min Read
image of the brain

Image is from freepik.com by @storyset.

Thriving in an AI-Dominated World

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to infiltrate nearly every corner of our lives, many are left pondering the future. Will machines inevitably surpass humans? 

Are we about to be burnt by AI? – Dr. Justin Cohen

Recently, I had the opportunity to discuss this very topic with Dr. Justin Cohen, author and futurist, when he visited our office to promote his thought-provoking book, What the Future – 7 Updates to Thriving in an AI World.

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Dr. Cohen's exploration of this topic stemmed from a very personal experience. As an author, coach, consultant, and speaker, he faced a moment of existential threat. With the rise of AI tools like ChatGPT, he began to question his own value and place in society. Seeking guidance, he even asked ChatGPT, "How can I maintain my self-worth?" The response will blow you away, "You are more than the tasks you perform,". This response sparked a profound realisation: this is the fundamental difference between humans and AI. While AI excels as a tool, humans possess a depth of consciousness that transcends mere task completion.

Understanding the Human Advantage

New technology does not replace humans as much as it replaces humans who don’t use new technology – Dr. Justin Cohen.

So how can we capitalise on these challenges, and leverage on new opportunities like AI? 

Cohen's central argument is that humans don't simply need to adapt to an AI-dominated world, they need to fundamentally upgrade their brains to thrive. This software update or "brain update" is not about merging with machines, but about fostering a set of core skills and attitudes to help us navigate the turbulent waters of the AI revolution.

Before outlining his 'updates', Cohen dissects the very nature of what makes us human. The ability to innovate, feel empathy, understand nuance, and exhibit consciousness are just a few of the characteristics that set us apart from even the most advanced AI systems. While AI excels at tasks that are structured and data-driven, humans retain a distinct advantage in creativity, emotional intelligence, and abstract reasoning.

But for humans to retain their edge, they cannot afford to become complacent. Cohen stresses the concept of a 'growth mindset'—the embrace of lifelong learning. In a world where knowledge is rapidly evolving, humans must become continuous learners, embracing discomfort and venturing beyond their intellectual comfort zones. Neuroscience backs this up; our brains remain plastic, constantly forming new neural connections, and challenges promote this growth.

7 Essential Updates

Cohen introduces seven critical updates centered around taking personal responsibility, fostering positive mindsets, and optimising mind and body alike:

Update 1.0 – Agility. Leading change means becoming a continuous learner who actively seeks out new knowledge and skills while embracing discomfort as a catalyst for personal growth.

When it comes to agility, there’s another bug in our operating system: our resistance to discomfort - Dr. Justin Cohen.

Cohen inspires readers to embrace challenges and step outside their comfort zones, whether it's by learning a new skill, striking up conversations with strangers, or even pushing themselves physically with a marathon.

Update 2.0 - Personal Responsibility. We can't always control external events, but we can control our response. This includes carefully curating our digital environments and consciously choosing information sources rather than passively scrolling through algorithm-fed content. Round the clock connectivity can turn us into slaves of our phones.

Let’s just make sure we’re in control, not the apps - Dr. Justin Cohen. 

Update 3.0 – Positivity. Positivity doesn’t mean expecting to get the best of everything. Whilst Cohen has been teaching the virtues of positivity, science shows that our brains are wired for negativity, that is, our brain is prone to more negativity that to positivity. Why are we faster to single out a frowning face than a smiling crowd? Have you noticed that? Dr. Cohen urges us to overcome this bias by practicing gratitude, to appreciate what we have to seek out the positive aspects of challenging situations.

The brain needs an update. We need to actively cultivate more positivity, particularly in an age of exponential change when so much is uncertain - Dr. Justin Cohen.

Update 4.0 - Physiology. In our rapidly changing world, managing stress takes center stage. While some stress is essential for focus, creativity, and action, unchecked stress can quickly spiral into debilitating anxiety. Understanding that stress fuels performance only up to a point is crucial; beyond that threshold, our abilities and well-being begin to suffer. Managing stress through breathing techniques, exercise, and reframing events as exciting rather than threatening is vital for mental clarity.

Update 5.0 - Purpose. Discovering our 'why' provides a guiding light when navigating challenges. Purpose-driven individuals are shown to be more resilient and experience greater well-being.

Studies reveal a fascinating connection between stress and altruism: individuals who consistently help others demonstrate remarkable resilience, with no increased risk of stress-related health problems. So, the next time you feel overwhelmed, try reaching out to someone in need – it might just be the best antidote for your own stress.

Hug someone. Help someone. Seek or give social support - Dr. Justin Cohen.

Update 6.0 - People. Human connections are essential. Cohen stresses that even in a tech-saturated world, our most significant achievements and support systems arise from collaboration and community, like the well-known saying in South Africa – ‘A person is a person because of other people’.

The story of human progress is the story of connecting with and learning from one another- Dr. Justin Cohen.

Update 7.0 - Performance. Knowledge without action is useless. Each step towards a better future requires turning new information into habits — effectively rewiring our brains for consistent action that drives our goals.

Read more:

Breakthrough to the Future: Insights From The Malaysia Leadership Summit 2023 (Part 1)

Breakthrough to the Future: Insights From The Malaysia Leadership Summit 2023 (Part 2)

The Path to Thriving

Dr. Cohen's book "What the Future - 7 Updates to Thriving in an AI World" offers a sobering, yet ultimately optimistic view of the future. AI poses both potential threats and incredible opportunities, and it's up to humans to choose the direction they want to take. By understanding our unique strengths, taking charge of our mental and physical well-being, and embracing these new 'brain updates', we can not only survive but also truly thrive alongside the machines we have created. Are you ready to update your software to embrace the changes, or will you be left behind? Have you taken steps to prepare yourself for the future and the changes Dr. Cohen outlines above? 

How you decide to live and thrive in this world depends on you!


Edited by: Meow Ee Chew

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Lead Editor leaderonomics.com

Kiran Tuljaram, the Lead Editor at Leaderonomics, brings a wealth of experience to her role. With a background as a trained lawyer, she dedicated nearly a decade to the banking industry before embarking on her entrepreneurial journey. Following her tenure as a Legal Manager at a bank, Kiran founded and successfully ran multiple businesses, including the establishment of her own fashion accessories label. Balancing her entrepreneurial endeavours, Kiran is also a devoted mother to three girls. Her varied background in banking, motherhood, employment, occasional social work, and managing director in her business has provided her with invaluable insights and a unique perspective on the critical importance of leadership within organisations.


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