The Future of Work – An Artist’s Perspective

The future of work is a concern for many. As we advance technology with artificial intelligence, with drones, with massive analytical capabilities we ask, will machines replace humans? Will there be any jobs left? What will we humans do?

In 2014, I was invited to present my Vision for Houston in 2040. This vision focused on our living environment, the combination of urbanism and nature. Since then, I’ve realized we also need to change how we live at the social level.

Currently we each carry a dollar sign on our chest. It is our value. It is what categorizes us and makes some targets to pursue and others untouchables. It gives us license to adore some and the ability to turn others invisible in their very presence. We relate to each other according to this value but aren’t we more than that?

If we look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs we can find a guide for developing our social make-up.

Maslow's pyramid of needs. Found on Wikipedia.

Maslow’s pyramid of needs. Found on Wikipedia.

Each person is unique. We each come to this life with certain gifts. I propose that we allow each person to pursue the development of those gifts, that we allow them to be their passion. With free education to pursue the development of those skills and knowledge people will become richer in areas that make them happy.

By providing a universal basic income thanks to the automation of much of the work we will enable everyone to meet their physiological needs along with their needs for safety and security. Everyone would have food and shelter where they decide to live.  This would be a standard.

We would then be free to pursue love and belonging, esteem, and self actualization. We would become givers instead of takers. Creators instead of consumers. We would all be free to become philanthropists of the gifts we have to give and these gifts would be developed to the level we desire. Some people would pursue technical paths, some would pursue social or natural areas. We would be able to match those who are young and curious with incessant questions with those who are senior and experienced looking to share their accrued knowledge and wisdom.

Everyone could become a master or an expert, or obtain enough experience to suffice for the needs of sharing in their community. The choice would be theirs. Those who want to pursue more could do so. Those who have had a life of making widget number 5 all their life would be invited to learn that which always called to them. This would not stop them from pursuing the great fish that got away but would give meaning to their retirement by giving them the opportunity to kick around that which they always wanted to pursue or practice, even if it was what they always did and loved. They would share of themselves with those looking for just that ability. Each person would be honored at all points of their life.

By finding the space to pursue love and belonging they would become esteemed members of their community. By finding and developing their true calling people would identify their place in the community. For the love of it, they would be scientists, engineers, technology experts, analysts enhancing the the advancements that make life hum. There would be those who engage in the social make-up of the community filling the creative, spiritual, and human need. And there would be those who become explorers, philosophers, and those who contemplate the essence of life. There would be those who become specialists and those who become generalists testing life in various areas at different times in their life. Everyone would be a teacher and a giver at one time or another, some more than others.

By enabling everyone to create a specific space for themselves in the community and valuing them for who they are, we can change the way we see “work” and live. We will recognize that each individual is important for who they are and what they contribute to the rest of us or the world in thought, product or presence. Not to pursue consumption but quality of life and enjoyment. We would pursue the purpose of being human.


Sugar Sugar

I’ve heard a lot of talk about food and health recently. It seems that people are rediscovering the connection between the foods we eat and our health. Specifically, how adulterated foods impact our wellness. It is refreshing to see more people understanding that connection and educating themselves about the way that foods affect their health.

What was more interesting was the talk about sugars. I am going to share a quote with you that to me says it all. Some years ago I was at the whole foods store (this was before Whole Foods came to town). I made a commitment to invest in my groceries for health and with that thought, I spent a few more dollars in the search of organics and healthier alternatives. I grabbed a box of soy milk and checked the ingredients. It was either a new product or it had new packaging so I wanted to identify the contents. I remember reading, “…developed for the American palate.”

Having started my working life in the marketing field, I was privy to the knowledge that American products in Mexico have less sugar. This led me to recognize that American foods not only have a greater sugar content but also added thickeners (typically starches) to give them consistency to satisfy consumer taste for richness. Of course that means more ‘flavors’ need to be added to enhance the assumed ‘main’ ingredient. Perhaps I’ll talk about those ‘flavors’ another time.

My point is, particularly in sight of the growing diabetes epidemic, specifically among the Hispanic community in the U.S. which is the immigrant community I am most familiar with, as immigrants come and adopt the foods of their new homeland, they also begin to encounter health deficiencies that can be related to increased sugar consumption. Because most typical Mexican food in the U.S. is carbohydrate-based (and many of these grains are bio-engineered to raise production and bring costs down) meaning that the greater percentage of food on a plate is sugars, then the only resort is to burn this high volume of ‘energy’ food as quickly as possible converting them into energy through physical activity or they will be stored by the body ‘for a rainy day’.

Real Mexican food is not so loaded with carbohydrates or fats (future blog). Cheese and cream are a low or infrequent ingredient, and for the most part, the cheese is of the lower fat content. Of course, many of the grains supplied to Mexico are bio-engineered, specifically corn, and we don’t know what that does to our digestive process. The adoption of Americanized food tastes and ingredients is causing detrimental health effects and in many cases, a growing occurrence of diabetes.

So sugar and the derived and processed sweeteners mainly provide calories that will rarely be utilized by the consumer. We don’t break them down due to lack of sufficient physical activity or because our body does not recognize them and ‘holds’ them until it figures out what it will do with them.

I can also understand that sugar can be addictive. As we force our taste buds to become more and more accustomed to highly sweetened flavors we forget what real food tastes like. We are searching for the sugar’s happy feeling leaving us crashing and ‘hungering’ for the next high. Consequently, we begin to see the fat (stored carbos) ratio growing and the anemic ratio following closely behind. If we don’t get the nourishment we need, if we don’t like the flavor of natural foods, we will crave the sugar (and it’s effect) like a drinker craves alcohol. The effects speak for themselves.

So what are some alternatives to sugar? The first step is to cut down on sweetened foods and avoid adding sugar to them. If we cut all the sugar from our diet we would still be getting sugar in the fresh foods we eat but in the form of naturally occurring sweeteners. The beauty of these ingredients is that they come proportioned right and will break down easily by the human machine system. For example, we won’t overeat apples or the natural sweetener in them. Next you can opt to add foods that are naturally sweet to add sweetness. These can be apples, bananas, carrots or beets for example. You can also use local honey. It is obtained from local blossoms helping boost your immunity to local allergens.

One thing to remember is that when fruits ripen on the stem, vine or tree they process the ‘sugars’ through chemical reactions to make them more easily digestible by our amazing human machine. Foods that are picked before they ripen don’t have the opportunity to process sugars in the same way. This can help cause digestive problems that can build up in the long-run. For this reason, eating local foods from area farmers are better. They are fresher and don’t have to be picked before they ripen to allow for travel time. And local growers are many times organic growers.

Do your research and learn more. Check with a nutritionist and plan ways you can cut sugars you don’t really need. Enjoy the natural sweetness of fresh foods.

  • May 2017
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    © Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André, 2009-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this text, images or content without express and written permission Lilibeth André is strictly prohibited. For permission to license, exhibit or purchase any of the artwork, email Links to this site may be made with full and clear accreditation to Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André.