Niall Ferguson in an October issue of Newsweek references Russian venture capitalist Yuri Milner looking forward ‘to emergence of the global brain…humans connected to each other and the machine…creating an intelligence that does not belong to any single human being or computer.” Ferguson wonders whether our species is up to handling this new connected mind, asking if we are creating “a new Age of Volatility, in which primeval emotions are combined and amplified as never before.” (Newsweek October 10 & 17, 2011, pp.4-6.)
The same Newsweek issue includes another article which projects a decidedly positive potential for our species. Harvard cognitive psychologist, Steven Pinker, says that, despite the violence we see projected globally via modern technology, we are living in the least violent time in history. Not only are we less violent but our definition of violence has become more nuanced. “Denouncing bullying…would have been ludicrous 40 years ago.” (Newsweek October 10 & 17, 2011, pp.71-72)
Pinker offers hope in our developing capacity for non-violence, and names several contributors to this future of hope. Whether Pinker mentions our capacity for intentionally transforming our consciousness or not (I haven’t read his book yet), with intentional training of our own minds we may positively influence an evolving universal consciousness.
If we want a skillful global mind lets start with our personal contribution, working with the one mind we can most influence. Focusing on our own skill first rather than trying to fix the world or each other, we prepare one body/heart/mind so that when it is time for action the right actions naturally unfold. We choose to be part of the solution rather than creating further suffering by imposing our good intentions on the world.
If you are thinking “I am one of the good ones,” you haven’t learned yet that all of us our good ones. This is a lifelong process, a process that requires our full attention every day, every moment. We are always vulnerable to delusion, to self-righteousness, and limited judgement. To acting out of unenlightened conditioning.
Link to Pinker’s book on Amazon The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined