OPQ | Balancing our digital future
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Balancing our digital future

Balancing our digital future

Van Youetta de Jager, deelnemer OPQ Advisory Network

“Only fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

—  Alexander Pope

We are on the dawn of a new world, where technology may become more powerful than humans, and where we hand over our power not to a God, but to technology. A technology that might make us obsolete and may ultimately destroy us. In a rush to control our world, in order to abolish threats and problems from our idealised existence, we create more problems. And more pain. We are using technology as a magical cure for everything, and very likely to medicine, when taken in the right amount, it will help us. However, when taking in an overdose, it may increase our problems, or even kill us.

Time to wake up

The message of Yuval Noah Harari in his book Homo Deus (2017) is clear; it is about time to wake up. He pictures a world where social and economic inequality will be translated into biological inequality and the rise of a new class of godlike humans. It is the dark scenario of a rift between a society that can produce bodies and brains, and one -or more- that cannot. To science, human feelings are just biochemical algorithms, while they have been our compass for ages. Supported by the ideology of neo-liberal thinking, technology and science are gaining the power to know us better than we now ourselves, and, thus, the means to control us. It is not happening somewhere in a far future. But it is happening right now. We are giving away our most valuable asset, personal data, for free. And we place our trust in technology. We have created a reality where people need to be able to re-invent themselves beyond the age of 50, and human labour becomes less and less important.

And man created the world after his image … an incomplete image.

Overlooking consciousness

So, what are we doing? There is one thing we have been overlooking: consciousness. We have discarded precisely that which discerns living beings from lifeless objects. We have paid attention only to intelligence and strength in a never-ending competition against ourselves. Artificial Intelligence will become superior to humans, because it will outperform us in the end. Because it has learned to read into our emotions, analysing data from our bodies and brains. Empathy embodied without consciousness.

We are leaving out essential parts of human being in our design of a new world. A world of human doing that does not include the value of consciousness, the importance of putting the mind in the heart. In essence, we are creating our own problem. Governments leave it up to market forces; trusting things will be all right. However, that will just not happen by itself. There simply is too much to lose. In her book Böses Denken (Evil thinking, 2016), Bettina Stangneth points out how rationalism ultimately destroys itself. Thinking has become detached from ethics, reaching a state of total subjectivity. We try to understand everything, and anyone, even evil people, only to find that empathy alone cannot save us from harm.

Our society’s focus

Our society is a society of human doing. Overemphasizing a predominantly masculine image and energy of action, strength and power. Organizations have become deprived of its feminine counterpart of being, stillness and love. We tend to focus on a short-term view, and a narrow perspective. Too much control limits our creativity and ability to truly connect on the level of being. And it is precisely this ability to connect and create together with others, which may be the key to solving the massive ecological problems we have created. Created by holding on too much to this idealised image of the strong and able man. We have been making changes trying to control and perfect our outer world, yet we barely understand how this outer balance works. And now we are trying to control our inner world, with our scarce knowledge and understanding of it. All of this takes place faster than we think.

Not too late

It is not too late. Not yet. Harari’s scenario is a possible outcome when we keep on following this path. There are many roads to choose from. They might be not as smooth and easy as the trodden path but nevertheless inspiring and rewarding. With my background in traditional Eastern medicine, Nuad thai and Qigong, I for one have chosen the less obvious route, scary and uncertain as (partly) uncharted territories may be. Practicing as a massage therapist has taught me to listen and tune into to a deeper meaning and level of connection with others. Buddhist monks, who could not perform autopsy, had to study and observe the human body in other ways in order to develop methods of healing. On that road I have encountered experiences that present questions, which may lead to valuable insights. Insights into the blanks and forgotten parts of a reality we have taken for granted for too long. I have embarked on a journey into unknown territory seeking ways to heal a world without balance. You are welcome to join me. And together we will boldly go where no one has gone before.