"We have to be very careful not to impose our hopes and desires on the cosmos, but instead, in the scientific tradition and with the most open mind possible, see what the cosmos is saying to us."
- Carl Sagan 1982
A while ago a close friend wrote an article about what it's like to work for an algorithm, in this case food-delivery magnet Foodora. Her findings approach what we may feel in our gut: as you're cycling through the city with your steaming pizzas in your backpack, following the minute instructions by a sexy female voice, you're close to feeling this "AI-thing" must be the end of civilization as we know it.
The world is getting techno-insane. They are watching us. As China gives head-first approval to Alibaba to collect payment data from customers, even without their consent; as Google is observing shopping streets to color their maps with crowds of people, even if shop-owners don't want to; as shady Cambridge Analytica has possibly secured Americans to elect its current president; it is no wonder Elon has a following in his race to space.
The important question rises, what is the influence of an ignorant coder pulling the triggers of the guns of mass-manipulation? Is this coder determining our realities? Or can we, by feeding algorithms our ethical, authentic data, actually improve them to align us with happiness and freedom, or the more beautiful world our heart knows is possible, as Charles Eisenstein envisions?
Algorithms themselves may not be the problem, more so, what meaning we project into them. What values do we live by? Do we believe algorithms rule us, or do we care to show up and be their teachers?
It may come down to the degree to which we can manipulate our own intelligence, increase our own consciousness, our capacity to self-reflect, to realise who we are.
What is an Algorithm?
An algorithm is a mathematical formula that collects and organises information to learn and progress and thereby affect its surroundings. What it does "at-its-most-meta" is making connections. Connections that our brains can't grasp as the amounts of data they analyse at the speed of light would take us light years to process. Already now, we cannot possibly understand mathematically how Google's algorithm updates itself every 30 seconds of the day. (Want to read a good book to grasp the basics of AI? Read this one.)
But as impressive as this sounds, an algorithm is not aware, as we are. And this is where our saviour is: we are aware, emotionally intelligent beings. Algorithms that are driving the learning behaviour of machines and AI's can simulate a presence, an awareness, but they are not more than a reflection of what we project into it. They are like a zombie trying to be empathetic.
What this implies? There might be an opportunity to transcend the doom-scenarios of mass-destruction. We may still be saved. But our saviour is not in trying to put all the genies back in the bottle to reclaim control. Saviour may be in giving up on all control and giving in to balance, into realigning with our true nature and then realigning ourselves with our natural and artificial environments.
Time to Realign with Nature
We feel that algorithms are not natural beings; I mean, they're virtual, they don't have bodies. However, that would be an analysis of the mind, a product of the myth of separation. In fact, algorithms are an extension of nature, an extension of ourselves.
It has long been known in the trendwatching world that whenever one part of the world is moving in the direction of individual material success (taking), another will lean towards the collective spiritual and etheric (giving). I've always loved this model for systemic sustainability by Klaas van Egmond, a Dutch sustainability professor, which beautifully images this balance-seeking quality of the natural world we're living in.
As we're transitioning from a "heady", materialistic phase, into a heart-opening phase, we get another chance to feel anew the waters of nature on our skin, to operate as a balanced whole in tune with the laws of nature.
"We live in a time, a place and a culture in which the cognitive functioning aspects of the brain and mind have been elevated as the pinnacle or place to operate from, at the loss and exclusion of understanding the great wisdom and contribution that the heart brings.
And so we’ve been imbalanced for a very long time, going back to Descartes, and before him the Greeks.
What might have been if we had been inclusive and holistically oriented? What might have gone into understanding and discovering who we are as human beings if instead of separating the heart and mind we had integrated the two?
- DaRa Williams
As DaRa so beautifully states, it is our own felt experience that will help us to transcend our mind and thus the idea that external algorithms can rule us. We have to dive into our bodies, groove with its rhythms, learn to translate its messages, and transmute the past into the present. If we find a way to deepen our bodily awareness, we will stumble upon opportunities to reestablish balance and find freedom as a whole.
The only thing we have to do for that? Deciding on our most natural algorithm in this very moment, which is to trust our felt experience and feel our desire to live happily, full of love and curiosity. We have to trust, to believe there's something brighter behind the door that is our deepest fear.
Sensing Trust Within, Leaning Into the Unknown
The beautiful thing about self-trust, is that there's not going to be one external influence that is bringing you down. You are giving ultimate grace to yourself, and so you are giving this to others.
You know that there's nothing that is not You. You know that your thoughts are creative (if you believe in them) and so you realise the hierarchy of creation that flows from the virtual into the physical, in slower motion as you are descending into time your new wisdom into the very edges of your nervous system.
These cycles of transformation are now, on a virtual level, mirrored by algorithmic technologies. The critical question on the inclusive, physical and virtual, level then becomes: Who do you believe you are?
Are you experiencing yourself from the outside-in, believing you are your timeline or your Alibaba credit-score, thereby ever-more dependent on an increasingly complex external reality? Or, are you experiencing yourself from the inside-out, only using your timelines and credit scores to reflect your current state of being, not believing nor letting them lead your behaviour into the future?
The quality of an algorithm is that of knowing, but as we lean into the opposite of knowing, unknowing, we realize that the algorithm that is bringing us closest to nature, to happiness, to enlightenment of night and day, is that of the unlimited curiosity of a child, that of looking at the future as if it's one big mystery.
As the universe is not judgmental, we cannot judge an algorithm to be good or bad, it just is, as this is the one quality of the algorithm of the universe itself, of God's Grace, it is ultimately forgiving, if only to have the courage to diving into the unknown and take it with us.
And as astrologist Carl Sagan says, this is a beautiful position to be in: to trust that the cosmos will always reveal a greater truth to you, only if you stop imposing your beliefs, and instead trust and allow its subliminal messages.
The Operating System of Self-Love
"When scientists describe the behaviour of living organisms, they describe what a person, or say, an elephant, does. They believe this is the only way to describe a person or an elephant: to describe what they do.
Then they found out that they cannot confine behaviour to what's inside the skin or the behaviour: all beings have an unlimited connection to the outside world. The being walks; the being walks into the room: now they have to describe the territory. And they conclude: a thing is no-thing in itself."
- Alan Watts
The truth about the scientific nature of things is that we really have one system of behavior, one operating system: what I am involves who you are. I don't know who I am if you're not you.
This means we are both no-thing. We define each other, we are all backs and fronts to each other. We depend. We and our environment are interdependent systems. We lock together.
This implies that if we care to align with our essential nature, we have to shift our internal paradigm, our operating system if you will, from separateness to interconnectedness. Diving into the unknown leads to greater connection. And this is the sacred system our hearts know is possible.
This power can be contained by one only algorithm, and that is that of Grace, to surrender to ourselves and have the Will to show up to manifest our highest intentions, accepting whatever comes our way without needing to understand it.
So, what does Techno- Sanity feel like?
It feels like freedom. It feels like the ultimate appreciation of your highest truth in the face of outside, algorithmic, chaos and pressure. Practicing Self-Love in the age of technological transformation becomes a very disciplined practice to stay close to your own center, to contemplate your highest values and intentions, because you know you are the one who is steering technology and feeding values and norms into the algorithms of our machines. So let go of everything you know and realize you are f*cking God.
October 2018, London, UK