“This book is the story of a new instinct, what I have called the Seventh Sense. If Nietzsche’s sixth sense was tuned for a world of changing industrial power, the Seventh Sense is meant for our new age of constant connection. I don’t just mean connection to the Internet, but to the whole world of networks that surrounds and defines us everywhere now. Financial webs. DNA databases. Artificial intelligence meshes. Terror or narcotic networks. Currency platforms. Connection—and ever faster, smarter connection—is transforming our lives just as trains and factories tore into Nietzsche’s age. As a result, we live in a world that is both terribly exciting and awfully unsettling. A financial crisis that seems to drag on endlessly, despite the efforts of our best minds and most energetic central banks. A historically expensive decade of war against terrorists that produces more terrorists. A global ecosystem that seems beyond repair. New pandemic diseases arriving like clockwork every year. Endless refugee waves. Domestic politics that have been transformed into shouting extremism. The point of this book is that every one of these problems has exactly the same cause: networks. And by understanding how they work, we can begin to shape this age, instead of being used by it. ‘Man’s habits change more rapidly than his instincts,’ the historian Charles Coulston Gillispie once wrote. That’s us. We have all the habits of a new age. The phones. The emails. The ADD clicking of our keyboards. The hand sanitizers. Now we need to develop the instincts. Because anything not built for a network age—our politics, our economics, our national security, our education—is going to crack apart under its pressures.”
~ Joshua Cooper Ramo from The Seventh Sense
This is a fascinating book. It reads like gripping, can’t-put-it-down fiction.
And, Joshua Cooper Ramo is a fascinating guy. He is currently the co-ceo and vice chairman of Kissinger Associates and a board member of FedEx and Starbucks. He spent years living in China (where he became fluent in Mandarin) and was the youngest senior editor + foreign editor in the history of Time magazine where he wrote 20+ cover stories earlier in his career.
This book is very different than the types of books I usually focus on. It’s not “self-development” per se; it’s more like “state-development”—as in, the optimal politics for our nation and world.
The main thrust of the book is that we are entering a revolutionary time—an epoch of networks and extraordinary connection. Joshua believes our great-great-grandchildren will call this era something like the “Great Connection.”
Although Joshua briefly touches on the role individuals will play in the book, his primary focus is on a macro level. I’m going to leave the high-level intellectual discussion on global war and peace for the book and see if we can find ways to bring this meta-level awareness down into our lives with some practical wisdom we can apply to our lives TODAY so that we can each play a powerful role in these revolutionary times.
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