Democratising Wisdom

Democratising Wisdom

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One moment in 2013 transformed my view of the world. It was during a lecture at Singularity University on the future of Biotech – a technology moving 3-5 times faster than Moore’s Law, without the world really understanding the implications of this. The speed of technology’s advancement and availability, and the upsides and downsides of this, were breathtaking to behold.

Essentially, every human is fast becoming capable of playing with the building blocks of life. Whilst the advantages of this for industries like medicine, food, and energy are incredible, there are some phenomenal disadvantages, too. We are rapidly making the tools to create biological and other weapons available to everyone on the planet – and ultimately, there is very little we can do about it. For example, gun control is seen as the great solution to gun violence in America; but the fact is that 3D printers will be able to produce weapons in every home in the near future. There isn’t a law or control system that can effectively deal with that dynamic.

Very quickly, I recognised that technology is an amplifier of human behaviour. And individual and collective behaviour will soon need to be dealt with in completely different ways, since we have decreasingly less capacity to control and suppress populations.  The ‘lone wolf’ can – and is – appearing everywhere. In the past, disgruntled individuals could never really do much harm – but that is changing, as more and more individuals are angry with the world, or become radicalised. Their ready access to dangerous tools and information requires the human race to look at this challenge very differently – with a need to get to the root causes of disaffection.

We are starting to see this issue play out in society, given the role of social media in radicalisation and populist uprising, and through the explosion in smartphone addiction. Go anywhere, now, and everyone around you is staring at their phone – often absorbing information they have been manipulated to consume. Our desire to develop smart solutions with specific outcomes has had unintentional consequences on society. Technology and media’s constant quest for our attention is amplifying our fears and pain – and this is making many people very unwell. People in pain drive a lot of our problems in the world.

We have already seen the democratisation of knowledge – almost every human being has access to the kind of  information that world leaders didn’t even have, just a few decades ago. We are now moving into the era of democratising intelligence – whereby everyone has access to machine learning and super computers; but this intelligence can be used against people’s best interests. Technology is being used to leverage our primal cognitive biases – to manipulate our individual and collective behaviour. As a result, the threats we face are incredible.

To survive, as a species, we need to move one step beyond intelligence. It isn’t good enough to develop clever technology without taking the full consequences into account. We need to use technology to leverage our individual and collective capacity to become wiser; to accelerate and democratise wisdom at a much faster rate than currently.

By 2050, the world is predicted to max out, at 10 billion people. For those 10 billion people to remain alive, we must become collectively wiser at an unprecedented rate.

I believe the world must get very wise very quickly, for its very survival. We need to develop our collective capacity to understand each other, to be compassionate, and to live and work as individuals with a collective responsibility – not causing harm to anyone or to anything. This all should come from a place of collective desire, rather than from control.

The acquisition of information and knowledge brings us intelligence – or technical ’know-how’. It’s in using our intelligence and applying that knowledge in practical ways – with good judgement – that we demonstrate wisdom. Wisdom to create better outcomes for ourselves, for other people and for the world. Through artificial intelligence, our capacity to develop, practise and share wisdom accelerates. Intelligence without wisdom can be destructive. Used wisely, our intelligence and our technology has the ability to solve problems, to heal us, to improve our quality of life, and to unite us.

I want this blog post to be a good news story – and personally, I’m very optimistic about the future. There is the emergence of a global shift, the like of which we have never seen before. The individual and collective transformations I witness on a daily basis give me hope in our capacity for wisdom to increase very quickly – to benefit us all.

To a wiser world.


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  1. Dear Mark,

    What a lovely mind! If I may: inteligence here is defined as the ability to use the environment to achieve goals I imagine. I read that true intelligence is understanding that the outside is a reflection of the inside. When you recognise they are one then there is a position of intelligence. As Neitzche said: ‘untill you recognise the stars are within you you lack a position of knowledge or understanding.’

    So all we have is degrees of cleverness but very little that works to arrive at the causal cessation of suffering, what all beings desire: the experential realisation, not just a rational comprehension of the process although that is necessary.

    Ken Wilber’s book ‘The Eye of Spirit’ is doing a lot to bring the ancient systematic processess for this realisation / inteligence to the Western knowledge systems; his new book ‘The Religion of The Future’ published by Shambala books is great! Jordon Peterson’s work does a lot to look at how the Christian concept of God underpins our whole system of law and it re-enforces the scientific/materialist dogma that things are happening to us, rather then being a pure reflection of mind it’s self. That materiality arises out of consciousness and not the other way around as per the materialst view.

    Lord Buddha said recognition of this basic difference and liberation are symaltaneous: seeing the chain of dependant co-origination is not transformative of a rational level, however self evidently satisfying the logic may be. Finding ways to learn how to experiencing that unity, Samadhi, Nibbanna, these states that allow one to KNOW for themselves that unity, is very rare. One needs someone who has already realised it for themselves. This is why the title of Buddha is so reverred for such a one realises this when all others have forgotten and as such others can learn (repreodhcability…) from those who have realised much more easily. So I dont see much knowledge, intelligence and very little wisdom anywhere really, even in the traditions that have lost their direction that were originally set up for that purpose. The path is lost, the PRACTICE/METHOD is lost. (If I may suggest http://www.theartofmediation.org as great ways to start learning and practicing paths to such wisdom).

    Infact I see the graph going the other way around, into increasing degeneration, at least up untill the last vernal heliacal equinox of the last great year’s peregee. Hehe, we shall see. There’s hope with minds / intentions as pure as yours around!

    So wherever we find an opportunity to help beings learn the systematic Eightfold noble path unto that basic realisation, a universal path that leads to understanding the objective cause and cessation of suffering, then I’m all for it. Otherwise we wont be able to see what is right infront of us: closer then the noses on our faces.

    So please do keep sharing the actual ways, programs, technologies, classes, etc where we can gain/increase access to these pathways and journalling the various profits thereof.

    Thanks for all your help om the way so far 😉
    Trying to bring you some Zomes for a Soil Campus with Jock soon 🙂 there is a wingly that will fly you to Goodwood arrodrome for 200£ if you want to come stay, has two or three seats. We will have to let the pilot join the party but he’s very nice x

    • It will be interesting to see what happens to the graph. For the purpose of this post I felt it was important to use the exponential curve in a different context. We can only grow infinitely by becoming infinitely wiser. I think that on that journey we completely redefine what technology and the purpose of life actually is. Thanks for sharing Charles.

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