The dolphinthinker’s first impulse is to skedaddle when she or he spots stupidity. But anymore, where would you go to get away?

When things that humans are doing or had hoped to do show signs of flying apart or coming to a halt, the first impulse of the dolphin mind is anything but heroic. Almost certainly, it’s not what most folks probably would expect. In such “London Bridge is falling”-type circumstances, the first urge of the dolphinthinker is to . . . skedaddle. To be in the next county or maybe the next country, long gone and far, far away, by the time the fandango reaches the fan. This means keeping an eye peeled for gathering storm clouds, potential train wrecks and other ominous signs of non-productivity and trouble.

On reflection, such an impulse shouldn’t be surprising. After all, one of the most predictable change-outs that accompanies the transition to dolphin thinking is a marked reduction in the urge to be sacrificial. Those who experience it can be expected to take a much dimmer view than before of hanging around danger zones overly long or not removing oneself from the chaos once the bullies, bad apples and other ne’er-do-wells suggest that “lady luck” is about to take a holiday.

This was probably why, when your author first began to introduce people to the benefits of thinking like a dolphin, I wasn’t at all reluctant to urge quick-trigger exit strategies on them when they realized that things weren’t working out. “Morph, mobilize and migrate,” I called the process. Initiate a quick change of heart and goals. Rent yourself a truck or hire a mover. Load up your possessions and go somewhere where the world works differently—works better. Where competence is not something you keep hoping for but something you can breathe and luxuriate in and not have to hide it with artifices or waste valuable time explaining why it’s a good idea.

But no sooner did I begin to peer out the portholes of a new century than I began to notice that our morph-mobilize-and-migrate strategy for dealing with intractable incompetence seemed to be failing the “what works” test. The idea of suggesting that people get out of the pool and mosey on when faced with persistent breakdowns in a place where nobody seemed much interested in breakthroughs suddenly seemed as helpful as telling people who needed heart surgery to check out the garden tools section at The Home Depot.

So . . . you’re telling people to get out of the pool if they sense a rising tide of confusion, ineptitude and passivity? Where are they supposed to go? You counsel them to hit the open road—which road? You urge them to migrate to more competent, more promising surroundings? If you don’t mind, please point out these recommended safe havens of yours on Google Maps or MapQuest.

It was hard to ignore this reality any longer: there are getting to be fewer and fewer dependable, credible, guaranteed-to-be-there-very-long livable hidey holes of competence left anywhere on the planet and soon, there will be virtually none.

And not only that.

The time when dolphins could enjoy being free spirits and the apotheosis of independence—proud lone eagles of the world’s idealistic seas—seemed over and done before it was close to getting started.

Capable as his or her thinking abilities are, in this new world of speed and greed and these new times of flux and uncertainty, the individual dolphinthinker seeking even for a time to be a highly transient “a power of one” is about as vulnerable as anyone else.

What’s a dolphin to think? What’s a dolphinthinker to do? Joshua Cooper Ramo lays out the crux of the problem in The Age of the Unthinkable:

As much as we might wish it, our world is not becoming more stable or easier to comprehend. We are entering, in short, a revolutionary age. And we are doing so with ideas, leaders, and institutions that are better suited for a world now several centuries behind us. [This] revolution is creating unprecedented disruption and dislocation.

At this point, you might think that the dolphinthinker can only do what any other thinker can do, regardless of which variety of mind he or she thinks with: hunker down, try to muddle through and hope for the best.

And it may come to that.

But to expect this outcome would require ignoring the other instinct that rises up in the dolphinthinker’s mind when yesterday’s solutions degenerate into today’s quagmires: to summon the pod. And to demonstrate—not that anyone who shows up when the summons goes out will expect to be applauded for such a result—what the impact can be when users of a new kind of mind come together with the intent of taking teamwork to whole new levels.

Best, then, that the dolphinthinker get prepared for what seems very likely to be the dolphin mind’s biggest assignment yet. For the next several years and probably several decades—at a minimum until “Artificial Intelligence” (whatever “AI” eventually turns out to be) upends and transfigures the whole question of how decisions and all else gets made—few responsibilities are going to weigh more heavily on the dolphinthinker than this one.

Sisters and brothers, good of you to come!

Bookmark and Share