Technology is Waiting for Us to Grow Up
Advancements in AI/Quantum awaiting advancements in consciousness and a new Technological Renaissance
2020 has turned into a meme because it is catalyzing major shifts that were already unfolding:
- In our “outer” world, the transition to the Information Age from the Industrial Age. Prior such transitions (there have been only two for humanity — Hunter-Gatherer to Agricultural societies, and Agricultural to Industrial societies) took millennia or centuries. This one is happening exponentially faster within just a lifetime.
- In our collective “inner” world, the transition to heart-consciousness, a much needed evolution from ego-consciousness. From the loud and incessant machinations of the ego to the deeper wisdom of the heart. Humanity has only known ego-consciousness for the past few millennia, save for some powerful outliers (e.g. Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Rumi, author(s) of the Upanishads, spiritual masters). There’s no messiah coming this time, we’re all being “upgraded” and being asked to step up. This is also happening over a lifetime.
(I’ve written in depth about both transitions here).
So yeah, this is a pretty big deal. A lot of what has happened this year (and is to come), makes sense in the context of these shifts. Broad and deep changes await our way of life, but by far the biggest and most important will be the rise of the sovereign individual (free from the shackles of big government and obligations of lifelong employment), the collapse of generations of centralized structures and the prominence of decentralization to fill that vacuum across every aspect of life (government, jobs, business, education, technology, money, banking, finance, health, medicine, energy, media, entertainment, food, art, housing). A shift from the concentration of power with and worship of a few people, experts, groups, corporations, institutions and governments to the rise of the many. As it always does, the outer and inner will reflect the changes in each other, hence the simultaneous shift in both.
End of the Road
68,000 → 1,200,000,000,000.
Behold the arc of progress in technology over the past 40 years. This is the growth in transistor count in the largest processor in 1980 vs. 2020. From the workhorse of the 1980s, the Motorola M68000 microprocessor (powered the first Apple Macintosh) to eight magnitudes of order higher, the Cerebras AI freak-on-a-chip.
This is what exponential progress looks like. This is why we’re fast transitioning to the Information Age. Technology can take a bow.
But we’re at the end of the road. To be specific, we’re at the end of the road for technology development within the paradigm of the ego-consciousness matrix. While we’ve certainly made immense progress so far, there’s also been a lot of toxicity (the sum total of which can be categorized as one or more of waste, corruption, pollution, manipulation, destruction in the name of disruption, falsehood, division, stress, exploitation, addiction, subjugation, inequality, fraud, control, invasion of privacy). This is not to lay the blame at technology’s door, it’s just a consequence of the operating paradigm of the times, as ego-consciousness is fueled primarily by fear, lack and illusion. If we continued unimpeded down this path, we’d be certain to eventually threaten our existence or make life a living hell. The ego can’t help itself.
Perhaps signaling this shift, we’re nearing the end of Moore’s law in the physical world, the rocket fuel that powered technology’s flight the past few decades. As discussed at the start of this essay, accept it or not, we’re shifting to heart-consciousness, a “quantum leap” in consciousness based on love, truth and freedom. A lot of the problems and obstacles of the old paradigm can only be solved or avoided by this step up in our consciousness.
“No Problem Can Be Solved From The Same Level Of Consciousness That Created It”
— Albert Einstein
Wisdom >> Intelligence
The development of artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning as a tool to automate rote or dangerous jobs is great. Humans aren’t meant to spend their lives drudging along like robots. On our current path, the endgame leads us to artificial general intelligence (AGI), and an AI singularity where machines will one day be smarter than humans (no one knows for sure, but most AI researchers peg this to occur within the next 50 years). Left solely to the foolish (and often destructive) ambitions of an ego master, this would most definitely manifest as something dangerous, unpredictable and downright terrifying. However, while the ego can’t help itself, the wisdom of the heart will not allow it. An extinction event precipitated by the rise of the machines may be true on some alternative dystopian timeline with Skynet online, but not the one we’re on. This is because, as creators of AI and machines, their power and behavior ultimately rests with the intentions or objectives we bestow on them, which in turn derives from the consciousness paradigm that drives our behaviors and objectives.
“It takes something more than intelligence to act intelligently.”
— Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
A very recent and wonderful talk aptly titled ‘How Not to Destroy the World with AI’, Dr. Stuart Russell (Professor of Computer Science, Berkeley) provides further encouragement that these questions are starting to be pondered in the AI community. He explains that the current standard AI model of giving machines only an objective/cost function to optimize is wrong, and could lead to unexpected behaviors. In this current incentive model, smarter AI leads to worse outcomes (we’re already seeing examples and growing concerns of AI manipulating human behavior in order to optimize seemingly innocent objectives such as engagement or click-through-rates). This derives from how intelligence for machines was defined in the early days of AI (1940s and 50s): “Machines are intelligent to the extent that their actions can be expected to achieve their objectives.” Instead, he recommends we revise this model to: “Machines are beneficial to the extent that their actions can be expected to achieve our objectives.” With this new model, smarter AI leads to better outcomes.
“There’s a mismatch between our level of maturity in terms of our wisdom, our ability to cooperate as a species on the one hand and on the other hand our instrumental ability to use technology to make big changes in the world. It seems like we’ve grown stronger faster than we’ve grown wiser.”
— Nick Bostrom PhD (Professor, Oxford University, Future of Humanity Institute)
A short winter might be coming for AI again, perhaps as a much needed pause to allow our wisdom to catch up, but we’ll continue to make incredible advancements in the longer term (with shorter and shorter cycles of winter/euphoria), with real progress only being possible on the back of genuine intentions to serve and benefit humanity, rather than misplaced intentions to only boost profit / engagement / addiction / singular objective function. Just like Moore’s law fast-tracked AI progress this past decade, I expect upcoming advancements in quantum computing/technologies will do the same in the future.
Quantum computing is unlike anything in classical computing. In spite of Google’s claims of quantum supremacy (can the ego get any louder?), it’s still very early days. When more fully realized, quantum technology will slingshot humanity into a new era of progress and advancement— it’s just awaiting a quantum leap in our consciousness. Yes, “it” is waiting for us. While quantum computers exist today, there are still many missing pieces and capabilities that our ego mind cannot and will not be able to access. As explained in quantum physics, ‘“reality” requires an observer, and in the act of observing, the observer changes the measurement, or affects reality. An observer trapped in ego consciousness has a limited view and will not be able to unlock the magnificent secrets of the quantum universe (things we aren’t even aware of yet). It will require an evolved view. Just like an ant cannot comprehend a human’s perspective, the ego cannot comprehend the infinite/quantum perspective of the heart.
Given the boom in technology, a lot of people gravitated to tech as a profession over the last few decades. As with all professions, I expect this to wane this decade (some voluntarily, some due to automation), but the passionate will remain because building cool tech lights a fire under their a**. Those building and creating from their hearts are going to make amazing discoveries and literally create magic. Here’s a bold prediction: the next big advancements (including in AI and quantum tech) are not coming from Big Tech, it’ll be the little guys. The sovereign engineer/scientist/coder will have more idle time to dream (fewer meetings and status updates), access to more information than ever before, with some breathing room to unleash pent up passion. Not having to answer to a boss, we’re going to see the return and rise of the tinkerers and inventors, with the freedom to play and persist with far-fetched ideas (this will happen across every domain — medicine, healthcare, agriculture, artisans, architecture, you name it, but my familiarity is with science and tech). It’s time for this generation’s Leonardo da Vinci’s and Nikola Tesla’s to rise and usher in a new technological renaissance.
“I am credited with being one of the hardest workers and perhaps I am, if thought is the equivalent of labor, for I have devoted to it almost all of my waking hours. But if work is interpreted to be a definite performance in a specified time according to a rigid rule, then I may be the worst of idlers.”
―Nikola Tesla, My Inventions
This decade, we’ll start realizing some of the futuristic visions we dreamed of in the 20th century, but these creations will go well beyond “do no evil”, as they will be grounded in love, service and truth. The era of tech dominance is over, making way for tech as a true service.
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