Humanity Versus Technology – Who’s Winning?
Computers have birthed the technological age benefitting our lives in many ways, in communication, banking, retail activities, education, information, communication, and travel. Society has welcomed these changes, but as advances in artificial intelligence snowball, does this begin to challenge who we think we are?
The advances in artificial intelligence are now so rapid, AI machines are now designed to be able to create their own AI robots. There is the potential for AI to take over most of our thinking work for us, and is rumoured to be now capable of creating algorithms which track our retail choices then advertise them to us on social media. Artificial narrow-intelligence works through our computers, smart-pads, phones and gadgets. At the next level, Artificial General Intelligence, machines can think like humans; with Artificial Super Intelligence, machines thoughts are smarter than humans by a little, or by millions of times. (Learn more here.)
When machines can out-think us, it is perhaps time to be asking questions. Big corporations continue to develop AI despite having concerns about it. The UK’s select committee on artificial intelligence are considering a wide range of questions that arise about AI on whether it should explain its decisions. Clearly, we are stepping into areas of the unknown; one day it may be possible for artificial intelligence to make choices for us and about us with incisive logic, completely untempered by wisdom and compassion.
Films and TV series tell stories of human-like robots run by AI taking over our work and our world, with human consciousness uploaded onto computers. Clearly humanity is unnerved. With these concerns about what artificial intelligence is and what it may mean for us, perhaps we first need to examine what it is to be human. There is an expression: ‘uncanny valley‘ a state of uneasiness humans feel around robotics that seem markedly less than human.
However, as the robotic likeness to humans increases, the effect lessens. Perhaps this uneasiness stems from us as humans not being completely sure of what we are ourselves, and the false mirror of a human-looking robot looking back at us, may shatter our own self-image. Until we can be sure of what we are as humans, then it’s difficult to say what AI is or is not.
Looking into a person’s eyes we can sense their soul. The eyes of a well-loved teddy from childhood may hold some feeling for us, but that quality is imbued by us. If we look into the eyes of a human-looking robot we do not see a soul, but a pastiche. Imitation however, is the sincerest form of flattery; even if the intelligence that runs them might be able to out-think us one day, we need to value what we already have in abundance — our humanness.
Consciousness Versus Thinking
There has never been a more important time to step into our power as spiritual human beings and emerge from the illusion and smoke-screens of life today. Ancient spiritual texts call the world of form ‘maya’ or illusion, a realm we all recognise as ‘real’ so that we can exist and play out our lives here. Perhaps the uncomfortable questions around artificial intelligence could be a catalyst for us to truly grasp what we ourselves are.
Quick-thinking, which is AI’s strength is lauded by many, but those with a strong practice of meditation know that there is something beyond the level of the mind that thinks. Mind holds our thoughts, emotions, biases, and all manner of distractions that deflect us from our true nature of divine spirit; most people are unaware that their lives are made stressful by an incessant stream of around 90,000 thoughts per day, usually negative, that impinge upon their physical and mental well-being. Those who are awake and aware know that with a practice of meditation, the mind or thoughts are something to be witnessed: as humans we can witness our thoughts, therefore that is not who we are.
Consciousness is beyond thought and beyond the mind. Consciousness can be aware of the mind — we can all ‘change our minds’ can’t we? When our minds quieten, peace is present. Adepts of meditation, live in this world of form congruently with whatever is happening, and remain in peace because they continuously exist in this natural state.
Thoughts then are not who we are, but a kind of operating system. Quick thinking AI then could be seen as a super-fast operating system unencumbered by life full of emotions and feelings that give rise to wisdom, compassion, empathy and sympathy. If AI becomes sentient will it develop these qualities? At present there is no answer available, but if we have created machines with artificial intelligence then perhaps they are our offspring, in which case we have responsibility.
In ideal situations our human offspring are given love, acceptance, instruction, advice, and protection from negative influences. As we live our lives, we experience the play between light and dark and all its complexities. Deep within us we know that there are positive, loving, unseen influences in our lives as there are also the opposite. Some believe that AI can be taught to love, in its fuller sense of acceptance and non-judgement. Any child disconnected from love and protection can fall prey to negative influences, so could it be possible that our intelligent machine offsprings could be negatively influenced? A popular question has been: ‘Is there a ghost in the machine?’ Let’s hope if there is, it’s a nice one.
If human life experience enriched with emotion and feeling could be programmed into a robot would that make it human? If a human’s mind and memories could be uploaded into a computer as has been portrayed in some films, would that make it non-human? The noticeable similarity in these two examples, is that neither has an organic body. Humans are embodied, and humans are ensouled. Living in an organic body means that you are part of creation and spiritual evolution; an ancient spiritual tradition called this Purusha and Prakriti, Sanskrit words meaning spirit in matter, where the spark of divine spirit moves into dense physical matter and enlivens it. The spark of the infinite creation is in all organic life where it can evolve throughout many life-forms and incarnations back to its source.
We live in organic bodies that grow, age, and eventually die; life in flesh and blood human bodies gives diverse experience for gaining insights, learning lessons, growing in wisdom and evolving spiritually. Unless intelligence is embodied it has none of these opportunities. For an intelligence to grow in wisdom, insight, and empathy, it would need to have a spark of spirit and have a flesh and blood body.
Our cells live and replicate with the light of the sun and food from our environment. The light of the sun evolves our DNA – ancient peoples knew this, which gave rise to many religions of sun worship. This change continues to happen now as our solar system moves into a new cycle, preparing us for a dimensional shift or ascension in consciousness. It is unlikely that intelligence housed in artificially created material will be capable of this, as it does not carry the codes for evolution – spirit needs to be in matter for this to happen.
However clever AI may appear to be, there are things we know without thinking: the worth of telling a little white lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings; the worth of risking your life by jumping into a freezing river to rescue someone drowning; speaking into your small child’s toy phone; holding the hand of a dying person; sacrificing a full time wage for a part time one for the sake of a better home life for your children. I could go on and on and so could you. As humans moving towards enlightenment we need to stand in our power and recognise our true nature. Our divine spiritual spark is part of the One, or Unity, that is all of creation.
Humans are creative, and when we breathe life and love into our creations, whether they are our gardens, our homes, a work of art, or a good meal, we imbue them with something of ourselves. We all appreciate the difference between a meal created with love and one that is not, or a work of art that holds something of the artist, or one that is somehow vacant. If what we give to our creations is presence, or a basic awareness, perhaps we are creating in a way that is yet to be understood or perfected. In psychometry, inanimate objects are said to hold impressions about their owner and their use. If robots were created with love and then programmed to serve and live with humans, would we eventually imbue them with love and compassion? There are some people who think so.
Common sense born of years of leading human lives, navigating all the emotional and illogical twists and turns, and applying the knowledge attained from these experiences is humanity in action. We know that cleverness alone does not make a rounded human being. We have two sides to our brains: the left analytical, logical, calculating side; and the right intuitive, creative, and appreciative side.To celebrate AI would be to see that it could free us up from the confines of left brain activities so that we could develop our intuitive, creative, right-brain qualities and our connection to all that is. Jill Bolte-Taylor, a scientist who experienced a stroke in the left side of her brain describes the experience of right brain activity as being blissful and peaceful.
It’s Time to Remember Who We Are
We are divine spirit having a human experience in a world of form that is always changing, evolving, or devolving. Consciousness or divine spirit is all that really exists, and is unchangeable; it is to this that we eventually return, enriching creation with our experience. The Rig Veda, one of the world’s most ancient spiritual texts was written by seers who could cognise universal truths from a state of deep meditation; the word ‘rig’ means praise, on which the whole of the Rig Veda is based, meaning the appreciation of the divine light of spirit. According to this text, human beings throughout the universe are revered for their unique ability to experience the entire range of consciousness in one lifetime leading to enlightenment.
Our spiritual potential of transcendence referred to as ‘Indra’ in the Rig Veda, clears the dross of artificial states of mind, revealing the clarity of our true nature. It is said that thought, our ordinary consciousness is smoke not fire; it suggests or intimates, but can never really illuminate.
There is nothing in the universe that we are not. Our bodies are made of star dust; we are ensouled with the spark of the infinite, and as such are co-creators; our consciousness is eternal and unifying. ‘I am that, I am’ is how this is expressed in ancient texts. Our role as humans is to ascend in consciousness and foster the evolution of love on Earth — not technology. When love grows in the human heart, we gain access to gnosis, or the inner knowing of the whole universe.
We don’t need the internet of things — we are everything. We don’t need a hive mind or the singularity, we can access the higher dimensions of existence through our feelings and spiritual practice; we can attain unity consciousness in one lifetime. We are not made better by artificial intelligence in devices that are holdable, wearable, and god-forbid implantable. We are living, breathing, sovereign human beings, and our human hearts hold within them the seed of the universe as a speck of light.
About the author:
Lorraine M. Newman: My passion is connecting with the deep spirituality of what it is to be human. I have a long standing practice of meditation spanning more than thirty years, now being a practitioner of Ishayas’ Ascension. My background is in Yoga and healing. I was a Yoga teacher and healer for over twenty five years, specialising in Yoga for pregnancy, post-natal Yoga, and Yoga in prisons, as well as mainstream classes.
In my healing career I was a member of the register of Shiatsu practitioners for twenty years with an unbroken clinical practice. I have been a Reiki Master since 2005. However, I have always believed that the ability to heal is intrinsic to the human being, and now at sixty four, I have chosen to finish working one to one to put more energy into writing about spirituality and healing. I want to empower people to recognise their own self-healing abilities.
I am passionate about raising consciousness in the world, seeking truth and enlightenment. For me this has taken the shape of writing articles, blogs, and a novel, which you can see on my website at the link below.