I recently attended the presentation of Dr Kai-Fu Lee's new book, ‘The Superpowers of the Artificial Intelligence’ at the Palace of the Marquis of Salamanca (BBVA Foundation). Presented by Roger Domingo, our editor and good friend, a debate on AI took place between Kai-Fu Lee and Carlos Torres, executive president of BBVA. I had the opportunity to chat with both of them and for Dr. Lee to autograph a copy of his work for me. My gratitude goes to everyone who made this event possible.

Back at home, my daughter Zoe and I watched the movie 'Parasite', written and directed by Bong Joon-Ho, and the film is the winner of the 2020 Oscars for best film, best non-English-speaking film, best director and best original script. 

For the first time, in its 92 editions, a non-English-speaking film has succeeded. It is Globalisation 4.0. According to Bong himself, ‘streaming and social networks have got the public accustomed to watching content in other languages’ and more than 1,500 new foreign voters have entered the Academy. ‘Beware of that,’ warned actor Antonio Banderas, who was nominated for Best Actor for his performance in 'Pain and Glory’. Both my daughter and I agreed about the film’s main aim: the power of education and the misery that arises if education is lacking.

In case you have not seen it, the film is about two families. The Kim family (father, mother, daughter, son) live in poverty in the worst part of Seoul. When they reach their disgusting basement, the first thing they look for is wi-fi connection, which is the technology making the Park family very rich (father, mother, daughter and son). In principle, they should have never had the chance to ‘meet’. Fate intervenes when the tutor for the Park family emigrated to the United States, giving Kim Ki-woo (the son of the Kim family) the opportunity to work in the Park home. He is not licensed to teach English, an essential requirement for the family, so Ki-woo falsifies his license. His sister Kim Ki-jung, becomes an art tutor for the young Park son, who paints puppets and has a difficult relationship with his mother (Park Yeon-kyo), although she considers him a new Picasso. The father, Kim Ki-taek, becomes the new driver of the wealthy father, Park Dong-ik, and the mother, Kim Chung-sook, becomes the housekeeper (the lady of the house does not study or work, but it is the one that ‘attracts the talent’ to work in her home) in the Park home. 

In the absence of social trust, the Parks rely, without even knowing, on fake recommendations and fake business cards. In short, the Kim family found employment while falsifying their employability and identity. The only thing that betrays them is the foul smell they share (as I said in my book 'The Feeling of Fluidity', smell is the sense that best connects with the brain).

Who is a parasite of whom? Although they are presented in the movie as two independent communities (there is no empathy between the families), we are able to see the yin-yang (dark and bright), the Taoist duality present in the universe and that, not by chance, symbolises the South Korea's flag. The yang (red symbol) means light and heat, the yin (blue symbol) represents darkness and cold. The symbols surrounding the yin-yang are four of the taeguks, the four elements that symbolize sky, water, fire and earth.

The yang is the Park house--an outdoor party in honor of the boy Da-song. The ying is the basement with bed bugs where the Kim family lives, near where drunk people urinate. The ‘miracle stone’ that connects them is cheating with the purpose of educating the children of the rich family.

The main essence is that education goes beyond the mere process of academic courses. Since neither the Parks nor the Kims have friends, when the rich want to celebrate their child's birthday, they go to a camp. When this happens, the Kim family is left alone in the Park’s mansion. Since they are ‘badly educated’, they don't know how to behave. 

Nor do the Parks, who return from their excursion in nature earlier than they thought. The last 40 minutes of the film are the unexpected thriller of another ‘new basement’ (the one occupied by their previous housekeeper, Moon-gwang and her husband Geun-sae) in an isolation pact for comfort that involves deep anger. 

External circumstances (the merciless rain) do not affect the Parks’ house (the child sleeps in his outdoor tent in the open air) while the torrential rain destroys Kim's neighborhood). The next morning, the wealthy celebrate happily while the beggars fight among themselves. As in ‘Joker’, ‘1917’ or ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’, the social gap leads to extreme violence.

A child asked Kai-Fu Lee: ‘When robots do everything, what will we humans do?’ Rosa García (who has been Microsoft and Siemens’ first female executive) was asked by an ambitious young man: ‘What do I have to do to be CEO?’ Rosa's response was unequivocal: SERVE. Service Leadership--that is the key. I imagine Dr Kai-Fu Lee's answer about Artificial Intelligence would be: ‘When robots do everything, what we humans have to do is to EDUCATE’.

Because when Education is missing, in the Kims and in the Parks, human tragedy is imminent--on the planet, in people, in organisations. This is why the time of sustainability is also the time for employability, learnability and education.

Originally posted on: 30 April 2020
Last updated on: 18 February 2024
Juan Carlos Cubeiro

Juan Carlos Cubeiro

President for Europe
About my Brain Institute

Juan Carlos is an economist, an international leadership and talent expert as well as a prolific writer, author of 51 books. He is also the Honorary President for the Spanish Coaching Association and President of the European Institute of Diversity for Spain. He has received many awards including the Human Leader and the LIDEREX Award for Leadership Excellence.

In addition, Cubeiro is member of the advisory council of Human Age Institute, the largest Spanish Talent initiative, promoted by ManpowerGroup and supported by over 1000 companies. For 33 years, he has headed strategic consulting projects in Leadership, Executive Coaching and Career Management for thousands of companies and is considered the Coach with the largest number of CEOs in Spain.

From Shanghai to Chicago, he is a well known International speaker, with lectures in Johannesburg, Paris, London, Brussels, Berlin, Rome or Tel Aviv as well as Buenos Aires, Cartagena de Indias, Santiago de Chile, Caracas, Quito, Guayaquil or Mexico City.

His books have focused on leadership and management, including some best-sellers translated to several languages such as ‘The Feeling of Fluidity’ (‘Sensación de Fluidez’), ‘The Guardiola Leadership’ (‘Liderazgo Guardiola’), ‘Why you do need a coach’ (‘Por qué necesitas un coach’), ‘Innovative Leadership for Dummies’ (‘Liderazgo Innovador para Dummies’) or ‘Zidane’s Leadership’ (‘Liderazgo Zidane’).

He is also a prolific writer of prologues and hundreds of articles for the main Spanish headlines. Among the many awards he has received are ‘The Humanist Leader Award’ and ‘Leader of Excellence’ (Bogotá, Colombia).

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