Marty is an affable American chap who effectively engaged his audience whilst delivering a polished talk about staying on top of the Robot Curve. What is this you ask? A constant battle against obsolescence driven by innovation and competition apparently. Marty’s talk was about being successful in the fast approaching robotic age and how the talents of feeling, seeing, dreaming, making, and learning are key to this.
Marty sees us as being midway through a change from an industrial age to a robot age. He was keen to point out that change favours the creative and encouraged everyone to keep learning new things. The mind loves ‘either/or propositions’ but Marty warns that these are often false dichotomies; e.g. if a strategy is new it must be risky. To succeed we must reject ‘or’ and embrace ‘and’.
At times his talk seemed to flit around like an energetic butterfly, full of interesting anecdotes and facts, loosely held together by the topics he was discussing. He told of the lessons to be learned from taking a shower at a friends house; as you fumble with the controls, scalding yourself one minute before freezing the next try to be patient. Just as with many systems we use there can be delay; we must wait for proper feedback before proceeding. He went on to bemoan the fact that in the modern education system we don’t get taught how to use our imaginations. The danger is that we end up incapable of generating exciting ideas, a problem when you consider that the only thing that can’t be copied is originality.
Marty looks back at an old fashioned world where we know and do things and explains that in the new world we need to make things, too. This seemed to be his way of advocating prototypes and encouraging everyone to embrace iteration in design. He suggested being honest with your clients and not promising deliverables. Instead promise that the job will be completed using proven methods and that, although you can’t guarantee the process, the quality will be there.
In retrospect Marty’s talk can be summed up as an entertaining mixture of motivational speaking, anecdotes from his vast experience and neat sound bites; he wants his audience to embrace auto-didacticism (the art of self learning) and gave us lots of encouragement to do so. We need to constantly learn to avoid being superseded by robots and technology as in Marty’s words: “We’re not human beings; we’re human becomings.”