Being human in the age of technological development

By Rose Nekvapil

Is there a difference between shoes and immortality?

In September this year a group of 9 young people (26-43) from around Australia met in Melbourne to work with the theme Moral Technologies – being human in the age of technological development. This is an initiative of Seed Australia who seek to foster an alive platform of young adults inspired by world and spiritual issues. Many of our generation feel the encroaching changes that the technological age is bringing to our physical bodies, our consciousness, and our view to the future and what it might hold far beyond our imaginations. We can easily be influenced by information that tells us we will lose our humanity, that robots and AI will become our masters or that 1% will have everything, the rest of us nothing… These things may happen, and they may not, what excites me though is the question ‘what are the possibilities?’ How is technology opening a vessel for our spiritual development, an entry that would otherwise not be possible? We are creating technology, and in return it is creating us. What is it giving as food to be digested into will forces, capacities, thinking, feeling? What is happening within my soul when I see human suffering up close through a screen, a scene I may never have seen otherwise? Is it working a muscle of empathy and connection, or apathy and the desensitizing of human pain and suffering?

“The most exciting breakthroughs of the twenty-first century will not occur because of technology, but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.”   John Naisbitt

In this small preparation group we found that when we started talking about Human Beings and Technology the conversations were endless – science, shoes, tools, ethics, atheism, human technique, spiritual science, human heart, bionic heart, etheric energy, transubstantiation, immortality, technological singularity, consciousness, unconsciousness, AI, child development, education, research, cyborgs, drones, war, good and evil, what is it to be human? What would make you not human?… This is a relevant and even urgent theme of our time, and we hope that over the planned Moral Technologies project Australia, and with the Anthroposophical movement here, we will become conscious and active with the work on this theme in this time.

In April 2016 we will host Nicanor Perlas (Philippines) to work with the theme Artificial Intelligence: Is humanity prepared?. (4 day workshop in Melbourne). Following on in 2017, Orland Bishop (LA, USA) will work with us on the theme The technological age of human life.  2018 is yet to be confirmed.

‘…But the future cannot be a mere continuation of the past, no matter how that past seems so familiar and rational to us. The future, of necessity, will appear in the garb of the “impossible”, and only people with vision and deep spiritual creativity can know this and act on this, visionary individuals often called “crazy” by their friends, and even their loved ones. But, dear friends, the “impossible”, a more human future wanting to be born, calls us all to resist and transform the Empire-Cyborg Matrix.’- Nicanor Perlas – Right Livelihood Award Speech 2013

In the UK they are currently trialling a bionic heart in patients who have been given 30 days to live. This heart is made of material that the body won’t reject, pumps blood as a heart does, and senses through electronic waves if it needs to speed up or slow down based on the person’s activity. The results haven’t been made public yet (as far as I know). There are currently debates in the US as to whether the government should pay the bill for hundreds of thousands of bionic hearts to treat the number one killer in the US, heart disease. This poses the questions… Should you still get one if you live an unhealthy lifestyle that causes the disease? Can you exist as a spiritual being without the organ of the heart? What if you don’t have a spiritual view of the world, and see the body as purely physical and easily replaced? What if you are a mother of small children and it will allow you to continue to live? …and so on.

We hope that the event in April will carry more questions than answers, be very active, full of dialogue, discussion, reflection and definitely some discomfort!

It’s an exciting time to be in the world and this seems an essential conversation to be a part of. I hope we will see many of you there for the full event, or at the open Public Lecture (time and day to be announced). There is financial support for travel and participation for those who want/need, especially for those who are under 38 years old, although also for others.

To follow the theme: Moral Technologies facebook group

Supported by the Anthroposophical Society in Australia, Ligsma Kirpe Trust and Ileen Macpherson Trust.

For more insight into our work with Moral Technologies see a full article in the summer issue of the Journal for Anthroposophy in Australia.