Rubén Rivero Capriles

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    The Third World on the Conceptual Age

    The recent triumph of the Venezuelan candidate in Miss Universe, for a second year in a row, in my opinion exemplifies a good mix of extensive left-brain training and a synthetic right-brain answer. She endured almost one year of methodic preparation just like an olympic athlete, as this country is well known in its arguably sole globally competitive private industry, Miss Venezuela. She was asked why women still had to deal with the glass ceiling at corporations. She disagreed in her answer, as she boldly concluded that women already have the same opportunities in business as men. This answer comes from an 18 year old born in the 1990s, who has seen various female US Secretaries of State in office throughout her life with the only exception of Colin Powell. People of our generation, born in the 80s, 70s, 60s and earlier, were shocked with this answer because of their left-brain analyses and statistics about centuries-old discrimination for women, so lots of people worldwide immediately said that the 2009 Miss Universe pageant was already set up for the Venezuelan candidate. I was surprised too on her crowning, as I think there were more beautiful women according to preconceived standards; in fact I did not expect her even to become a finalist in the Miss Venezuela pageant either last year. This shows that Stefania Fernández has a consistent ability to strengthen her qualities and improve other people's first impressions during the crucial finalist stages of beauty contests. This is the first time I hear a woman saying that discrimination for women is something of the past. This conclusion of hers, in my opinion, was a good use of her right brain in noticeing recently changing patterns of social opportunity. In my opinion this bold, creative answer helped her win the pageant.

    Many Latin Americans, who have used their right-brain abilities as a means of survival based on the trickster archetype, become succesful immigrants in North America today because of that right-brain advantage. But the left-brain procedures, analyses and methods from the industrial and information age are still comparatively lacking in our local societies. That is why many immigrants and investors from the developed world excel here because their left-brain abilities help to convey some order in these somewhat chaotic Latin American societies with awkward political systems. Venezuela is at a stage of development that still needs lots of left-brain abilities in order to produce abundance.

    The concept of abundance is accurate to a certain extent in my Venezuelan environment. Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind is focused on North America, Western Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, so I am sharing instead the specifics of my part of the world. Blessed with oil money, we Venezuelans certainly have many shopping malls and an array of consumer options just like in the developed world, but at higher prices vis-à-vis our income. So a lot of our population is still living under scarcity. However, over the internet we are aware of all the material abundance available in the developed world. Venezuelans who go weekend shopping to Miami travel with a carefully selected list of what they want. They manage to make very wise shopping decisions in the limited time they are physically in the US for that purpose.

    Applying for jobs in the developed world, nowadays, involves filling out online forms during hours and submitting resumés and cover letters in very specific left-brain formats. I am not sure if this method will stand the test of time, as creativity is completely dismissed in today's job applications. Right mind abilities and artistic abilities are penalized by human resource departments if you dare enough to place such abilities at the same level as your financial or legal experience. At least that is the recommendation I have been given several times by a number of hiring decision makers. This is a pattern of automation that, in my opinion, neglects the creative qualities that North American and European companies should be looking for in their candidates, associated to their right brain. Left-brain only applications seem to be more emphasized than ever before in an effort by recruiters to spend less time reading the job applications.

    Online translations have not yet got to the level of Deep Blue. I do not want to make the same mistake by Kasparov, who said in his youth that a computer would never beat him in chess. But the French, English and Spanish languages have so many different nuances that, at time of writing, a good translation by a translator who has read literature and poetry in each of those three languages is far superior than what is being offered by any current translation software. Maybe by the middle of this century a supercomputer will be built to recognize a huge finite number of patterns humans use in their translations, so computers might make great artistic translations 40 years from now. Who knows?

    Africa is already jumping from the agricultural age to the most advanced cell phone technology over our lifetime. It will be interesting to see how they will profit from this paradigm shift. I admire the development of India with their well-trained scientists, but I wonder if they overemphasize the left-brain qualities to the detriment of the rich right-brain culture that is the legacy of their ancestors, the same way we Latin Americans praise our chaotic societies with our underemphasizing of those left-brain qualities. I won't dwell much further on this hypothesis, though.

    I applied Daniel Pink's concept "High Tech and High Touch" to many endeavors I perform, such as imports by customer demand and most of my writing. Such endeavors fail by these new rigid standards. On my writing on the Time Zones and their Countries; however, I am glad to conclude that it passes the three tests:

    No one can do it cheaper because I did it for free. I decided to publish it online instead of in print because most people do not want to purchase books or music anymore. I bought Dan Pink's book A Whole New Mind in print and did not download it for the sheer desire of spending some time offline.

    There are lots of computer-generated web pages that detail technicalities on the specific time zone GMT-2 (Mid Atlantic time zone). However I offer neat heartfelt paragraphs on what I believe are interesting features of that particular time zone, so I feel I am making a valuable contribution.

    The English version of my Time Zones and their Countries essay partially fails the abundance requirement because there are millions of web articles in English on the world's time zones, so that article just receives a few visits a day. However, the Spanish version sometimes receives about one hundred visits a day because there is not an abundance of articles that take the time to mention all the countries in the world in Spanish, which is evident on search engine results. The recently translated version into French is already receiving more daily web visits than the English version probably for the same reason. Maybe we are just getting into an age of saturation of information in English which would lead to a rise of readership in other major languages, even on the part of native English speakers who are recently more interested in learning foreign languages. Even if speaking a language is a left-brain activity, translating nuances from one language to another seems more related to the right brain as it involves artistry and a synthetic understanding of the original idea.

    While the developed world is certainly well-transitioned into the conceptual age, some least developed areas of the world are stuck in the agricultural age, and middle-income countries are catching up with the industrial and information ages as fast as they can. So globalization is challenging all of us to intertwine the convergence of the various stages of human development simultaneously. Globalization requires a massive right-brain approach on expanding left-brain procedures into the underdeveloped countries that urgently need the latter to reach abundance. Such convergence includes laxer procedures for technological transfers of know-how. I do not believe that the developed world will fully get into the conceptual age until the underdeveloped world catches up in their mastery of the previous stages, in part because one crucial concept of globalization is the goal of a unified Earth. The developed world has been overinvolved with left-brain activities, it must read the recent survival stories from right-brain individuals from poorer countries in order to get a better grasp of the meaning of life it is yearning for. The current financial crisis is a direct consequence of this transition as lower equity valuations reflect updated definitions of value.

    Money has a value, both scattered though specific accounts, and as aggregate equity. But such quantification cannot be adequately measured in currency units. It is much more subjective. We have the tools to analyze subsets of the infinite partitions for allocating money. Organizations must choose how to distribute such money partitions into given accounts. Which partitions promise a greater value for clients? Which partitions will enable suppliers to employ more people? During the recent past, a number of money partitions were classified as interesting by global organizations but failed to represent enough value. To envision fresh solutions for the current challenges, it would be useful if certain bankers or manufacturers would become philosophers, and certain philosophers would become manufacturers or bankers.

    Whole new mind approaches require right-brain senses of design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning. These six senses work beautifully under the assumption of abundance, outsourcing and automation that is correct in the left-brain developed world. But much of the underdeveloped world continues to live under scarcity, outdated political systems that discourage outsourcing in favour of policies which do reward inefficient local production, and bureaucratic procedures entrenched in anachronistic legal systems quite resilient to automation. A challenge that underdeveloped countries are facing now is how to blend their relative excellence in the six right-brain approaches with lots of left-brain know-how transfers that are still pending to take place.

    Rubén Rivero Capriles, Rivero & Cooper, Inc.

    Caracas, September 12, 2009