Free Chapter: Let in But Left Out

How America Let in Disruptions but Left Out People

By Frank Shines

April 24, 2020

Free Chapter, Let in But Left Out: Leadership, Faith and Knowledge in the Age of A.I., Coronavirus and Fake News (by Frank Shines and Granison Shines)

Let In But Left Out

I hope you find this free chapter from Let in But Left Out to be both provocative and informative. Please share the link to this free chapter with others, especially our military veterans who may enjoy this special section for military personnel in job transition — leave no vets behind. Here you can find the Amazon Kindle ebook of Let in But Left Out

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated technology change and exposed America’s weaknesses: stagnant worker wages and growing inequality, our sick healthcare system and hyper-polarization.

On March 11, 2020, as I was holed up in my office writing the manuscript to warn of what might happen if the U.S. faces a global crisis in an era of A.I.-powered technology change, weaponized fake news, global distrust and national polarization, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the novel coronavirus had become a global pandemic.  And for the first time in 70 years America is not leading the world.

Something certainly seems to be wrong with this country. Since the third known U.S. death from COVID-19 near Seattle on February 29, 2020 through April 19, 2020, more than 40,000 Americans have died. The Trump Administration warns of death rates as low as 100,000 to 240,000 and as high as 2.2 million people over the coming months. However, recent downward revisions put the projected death count at 60,000 to 80,000, with 69,000 being the best guess assuming adherence to social distancing. Meanwhile, the U.S. stock market notched its greatest quarterly drop since the Great Depression of the 1930s and 26 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the past five weeks.

Polarization has retarded our ability to come together as a nation to solve big, hairy (coronavirus-like) problems like generations of the past. Indeed, we can no longer agree on basic facts so we cannot even define the problem, let alone solve it. Such a political environment has created the perfect petri dish for the spread of the coronavirus – and the loss of American exceptionalism.

Somehow, we let in fake news and left out critical thinking. We let in personal gain and left out collective purpose. We let in the coronavirus but left out bio science. In the 14th century the Black Death killed an estimated 30% to 60% of Europe’s population, or about 100 million people. It took years for the Black Death to reach Europe. Aided by commercial aviation technology, COVID-19 circled the globe in a matter of weeks. The citizens of the 14th century had no clue what caused the plague. We got smarter. Centuries later, the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic killed an estimated 675,000 Americans, far less than 30% to 60% of our population.

Today, thanks to modern medical science and respected people and institutions around the world, we understand what causes pandemics and we generally know how to minimize and contain them. Yet, disregard for facts and science has created an infodemic that contributed to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Prince Charles, and Matt Hancock, the U.K. Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, all testing positive for COVID-19. At the time of this writing Prime Minister Johnson was just released from intensive care. To date, five members of the U.S. Congress have also tested positive for the virus.

During my time in the military, we conducted war planning and simulation exercises (often in concert with our allies) in preparation for conventional, nuclear and biological warfare. For years, U.S. government healthcare experts have engaged in similar pandemic simulation exercises. Consequently, we no longer suffer 30% mortality rates despite a much larger world population, global sea and air travel and greater human encroachment on wildlife habitat. However, to minimize and contain pandemics, nations must have a shared belief in science and ethics, trust each other, and cooperate on a global scale — not on a national or local level.

Suddenly, everything has changed. Businesses, public venues, schools, places of worship and local communities are shut down. Americans who previously resisted technology are now forced to use online tools to work, play, socialize and learn while maintaining “social distancing” to avoid spread of the virus.

Yesterday, my daughter’s tech-phobic elementary school teacher hosted a Zoom video classroom of 32 students online for the first time. Later in the evening, she sent an email to parents to apologize for lashing out at the students because of her technostress. Schools and universities that once repelled online learning for years have suddenly moved their courses to the Web. Business managers who refused to let workers telecommute for even one day a month are now forced to manage virtual teams of work-from-home (WFH) employees.

Misinformation on trivial matters are mostly harmless. On the other hand, Americans who make decisions and take actions about the pandemic based on fake news and conspiracy theories found online and elsewhere, are endangering the lives of themselves and others. In March, an Arizona man fearing coronavirus and attempting to self-medicate, died after consuming a form of chloroquine used to treat aquariums. [4] We are being outsmarted by a virus that thrives on human ignorance and distrust and our collective hubris.

During World War II, many of America’s Greatest Generation lost their lives storming the beaches of Normandy to defeat Adolph Hitler and the Nazis. Today, we ask Americans to stay off the Florida beaches during Spring Break to avoid passing along a virus that could kill our elderly and immunocompromised citizens; yet many tourists and locals flock to the beaches to socialize, drink and party. More than 5,000 have died of COVID-19 in our nursing communities; and nearly 400 have died in military VA hospitals. Price-gouging, scams and conspiracy theories abound. Our healthcare systems and personnel are overwhelmed. Despite access to smartphones we cling to dumb habits. More lives will be lost that could have been saved.

We entered the 21st century with an incredible feeling of optimism for the future. It seemed nothing could stand in our way. It appeared that we, as a nation and a world, were poised to fulfill the dreams of humankind for freedom, health, happiness and prosperity.

Yet now it seems a day doesn’t go by that news media isn’t reporting on alarming pre-pandemic trends and coronavirus events. This free chapter of Let in But Left Out provides you a glimpse of what you will find in the other chapters of the book:

  • Millennials have become the lost generation who entered the labor force during the Great Recession of 2008 and now face a once-in-a-century 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic;
  • Virus deaths at nursing homes soar to 5,500;
  • Healthcare systems and frontline medical workers are stretched to the limit and medical supplies such as ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) are nearly depleted;
  • Early data trends show Native Americans, Blacks and Latinos are dying from coronavirus at disproportionately higher rates (and blamed for doing so)[7]
  • Pope Francis holds Easter mass via live stream amid coronavirus outbreak[8] and Tom Hanks hosts first remote episode of ‘Saturday Night Live’
  • Lines for groceries, food aid and unemployment assistance stretch for blocks amid coronavirus crisis;
  • Goldman Sachs projects 34% drop in U.S. GDP and 15% unemployment in response to the coronavirus pandemic;
  • Dow plunges 13% in worst one day drop in stock market since 1987 over coronavirus fears;
  • COVID-19 spurs fear of mass biometric surveillance and facial recognition tracking;
  • Three GOP senators in self-quarantine and unable to vote on Coronavirus Relief bill;
  • There is an insidious and steady rise in surveillance capitalism and digital colonialism and likely to accelerate further due to coronavirus fears;
  • Domestic abuse, adult and youth suicide rates are trending upward at an alarming rate;
  • People are experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety, stress and drug overdoses;
  • Increasing wealth and income inequality threaten the social fabric of the nation;
  • Confidence in nearly every major American institution has fallen, except our military;
  • Globalization and technology advances are killing off long-established companies, disrupting industries, sending manufacturing overseas and eliminating jobs;
  • Scientists and activists point to the COVID-19 outbreak as a warning of the consequences of climate change to the entire planet and even the survival of humankind; and
  • The life expectancy in the U.S. has fallen for four consecutive years – coronavirus deaths may worsen this trend

Are these just disparate statistics and trends or are they connected? Has the COVID-19 pandemic finally exposed the consequences of our neglect of history, truth, science, family, faith, community, humanity, and the power of reflection and cooperation? Have we let in disruption but left out transition? Where are the leaders?

Is the virtual cycle of technological advancement encompassing artificial intelligence, automation, robotics, 5G and bio science outpacing the rate at which humans and our institutions can adapt to and handle change?
Has the sheer volume of data and the complexity of our problems exceeded our cognitive capacity to develop practical, sustainable solutions? Has the insidious nature of low probability, high-risk biological or virtual threats exceeded our ability to imagine scenarios and respond appropriately?

Is our failure to detect silent, invisible threats and adapt to the increased rate of change now driving greater socio-political, economic and personal dislocation? Has the timing of these tech changes coupled with middle-class erosion, rising rates of the religiously unaffiliated  with its loss of “community,” and a two-pronged demographic shift (the inverted pyramid of an aging population and the browning of America) stoked fears that are now weaponized and magnified online — and keep us from working together towards a common aim? Do our current forms of global crisis response, democracy and capitalism need an upgrade?

In short, have we:

  • Let in a Coronavirus but Left out Bio Science?
  • Let in Virtual but Left out Reality?
  • Let in Disruption but Left out Transition?
  • Let in Fake News but Left out Critical Thinking?
  • Let in the Noise but Left out the Signal?
  • Let in Personal Gain but Left out Collective Purpose?
  • Let in Distrust & Despair but Left out Faith & Hope?
  • Let in Anger but Left out Empathy?
  • Let in CoronaStress but Left out PsychoFlex (psychological flexibility)?
  • Let in Bio Hackers but Left out Bio Ethics?
  • Let in Diversity but Left our Inclusion?
  • Let in AI-Bio Wars but Left out AI-Bio Armor?
  • Let in Runaway Algorithms but Left out Ethical Guardrails?

If any of these concerns ring true to you, then this book will provide you with lucid explanations and practical solutions. Despite our initial response to the coronavirus outbreak, there is still time to course-correct. For the first time in human history, we know what causes a pandemic and possess the science and technology to combat it. Based on my experience as a business and technology consultant working in the life sciences industry, I will outline a method we can apply to better understand the COVID-19 problem, flatten the curve and safely get America back to work.

More importantly, this approach can be used by anyone to help bring people together to solve complex problems in an atmosphere of psychological safety and mutual respect. If you know of a family member, friend or colleague who has to learn to rapidly upskill, “play well with others” or is struggling to cope with social distancing and accelerating life change, then this book may be the perfect gift.

I have taught thousands of employees at dozens of organizations the vital lessons they needed to work together on difficult problems while learning to cope with the new realities of the digital age and working from home during the coronavirus outbreak. In Let in but Left Out, I share many of these practical lessons so you can apply them to solve complex problems and lead a better and happier life. By the end of this book, you will have a proven approach for problem-solving and gain a personal road-map for navigating your professional and personal life past the barriers and obstacles in the age of A.I., fake news and pandemics.

As a business coach, I guide CEOs, other executive leaders and frontline managers on the difficult journey of transitioning their people and businesses into the 21st century. Global competition is fierce, and tech change is moving faster than many workers can learn new skills and adapt. With the current pandemic, managers are forced to develop Coronavirus Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plans and workers must learn new technologies to maintain social distancing while getting work done. Additionally, today’s old-school incumbents must overcome the strategic, process, cultural, and technology challenges that are causing them to be surpassed by new entrants from abroad, Big Tech titans out of Silicon Valley, and nimble startups everywhere. I help organizations combine emerging technology and practical change with data-driven, process improvement methods. With the outbreak of COVID-19, I am helping businesses transition to “work from home” (WFH) operations, training teams on A.I. machine learning methods and co-leading large family social gatherings via Zoom videoconferencing.

Over the past 25 years, more than 200 Fortune 500, mid-market and startup companies have hired me to facilitate people change and performance improvement with a focus on the digital transformation of their operations and their cultures.

I hope you have enjoyed this free chapter.

Read this book today. Your sanity and continued prosperity depend on your successful application of the lessons to your life, business, family and community.