Digitalife – Among Other Oxymorons

Digilopoly: Nvidia, an American AI systems manufacturer topped two trillion dollars in market value on the NASDAQ stock exchange in February 2024.  That’s dollars with a “T” – trillions. To put that in perspective, $2T means Nvidia is trailing only three percentage points below Italy in value…Italy, the 10th largest GDP in the world.

Digitaldominance: In other news, the Magnificent 7 – the seven largest profit generators in the American Stock Market – is made up six-sevenths by info-tech business. Tesla is the only categorical outlier of the seven, if you classify a surveillance and computer package as “not info-tech”. Whether you use the outdated term “FANG” (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) or the rising moniker of “Fab Four”, these techno-stocks own a unique meteoric rise in market value amidst the rest of the world’s economic doldrums.

Digitaldough: According to The Federal Reserve, digital money is making cold hard cash the minority report, with greenbacks in 2022 just 20% of retail and personal financial transaction flows. And of course, digital gold mining – the “bit” coin is all the rage, luring and alternately disappointing its speculators as global crypto slops and sloshes somewhere around chasing AI’s valuation

Digital Life: And then there’s you and me, life, digital. Try to get through a week without Zoom-Facebook-Teams in your calendar. Datareportal suggests we’re spending, on average in the first world, forty percent of our waking time online. The lure of AI does not diminish that appetite. We are becoming, economically and socially, a trans-digital human culture. Our news intake, cell phones and even our ovens are becoming software Pinocchio’s – apps that yearn to be human. For now though, you’ll do as their interlocutor. In return, these digital-wanna-be’s promise an edge in finding true meaning and relevance in a FOMO-obsessed society.

So we have arrived, virtually. Wealth, scale, knowledge, power and personal meaning, all wrought by the finger of Big Tech. Ecce homo anyone?

We could laugh off the quaint fretting of the AI doomsayers, the Borg and Terminators, gone mobile, coming to assimilate. We might whistle past the tribal graveyards of prejudice and bigotry even as the algorithmic vortex draw us directly into what we’d actually long for, despite the din of that inconvenient thing known as reality. Donning our Oculus we can just be somewhere else, anywhere else, other than, well, here. And such fantasies help us ignore catastrophic stats of enslavement and dismemberment of our daughters and sons, digitally re-imagineered in The Social Dilemma—with its anxiety, despair and suicide. Life, like digits, must go on. 

So here we sit, analogically digitized in our chairs, and at our desks, staring, watching, inputting. Waiting on another screen encounter. Remote used to mean a video control box. Now it means isolated, distant, away, not around. No other real people in our proximity. And then the interlocutor becomes the prey.

We need liberation from our silicon-based prisons and alluring websites and promises made by lies. That liberation will come by way of human leadership, not an app.

Leaders lead in reality, not by virtual imagery. Organizations thrive with real people in real environments. Teams develop in live environments. You, individually, learn how to be better at who you are standing alongside others who’ve gone before you on the development journey. And the human soul cries out for community in person. Experience, oddly, come from live experience. You can watch a lot of videos about flying airplanes. You can attend a lot of online seminars about flying airplanes. You can sit all day in airplane simulators. Getting a crowd to follow you onboard a Boeing 787 for a cross-country after your “online training”? Good luck. I want an experienced live team on the flight deck. You?

If you happen to not be religious, this term will still likely catch a chord with you: Digidolatry. The more we look to technology as meaning, identity and purpose, as the god of wealth, scale, power and knowledge, the less we are as a person.

My hidden agenda in this essay? It’s you. I’ve taken the helm of too many businesses that tried to substitute the value of people, trained by people for digital workarounds. It never works. Substituting digital clones and screens and videos for individual relationships is a losing proposition.

New tech tools and technology development for competitive advantages? Oh yeah, I’m down for that. But replacing the singular capability of humans with AI bots and babysitters? Not gonna happen in your lifetime. We are just too complicated for chips and chunks of silicon to do that, all due respect to Copilot and Dall-E-2.

You are an “Imago Dei”. In other words—you are much more than the chemistry and components that make up your body. To quote Oxford neuroscientist Dr. Sharon Dirckx “You are more than just your brain.” You have a mind with meaning, purpose and value unobtainable by any semiconductor. That value you possess is uniquely equipped to relate and serve other people. If you want to scrimmage that Imago Dei idea with me, write me at and let’s strike up a….real conversation.

Unshackle yourselves from the black star of digital siren songs. Take a run at conquering a truly vast and expansive frontier of opportunities: the stories, strengths and possibilities of the people who actually exist around you in your organization. Start moderating your digital diet. Get back, connected to people. Humans using tools. Instead of vice-versa…that’s the kind of organization and equity play that I’d put money on!

© 2024 Dennis Allen | Morgan James Publishing

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