20 years later, things are slowly starting to take shape. Last year, we heard about Google’s DeepMind beating the world champion of Go — an ancient board game known for its seemingly innumerable possibilities. While Deep Blue was originally designed specifically to play chess, DeepMind’s system has been designed to teach itself how to play the Go game (by playing with itself), and not simply carry out fixed, previously programmed moves. Deepmind’s system is general purpose and can be used for many tasks. It already has been tested with mastering many video games, for example.
For many researchers in the field of Artificial Intelligence, it was a major breakthrough, proving its potential. At this point many scientists believed that such breakthrough was still at least a decade away.
AI – The new electricity?
AI technologies are already here. When you browse Facebook or use Google to search for anything, AI algorithms try to bring you the most relevant content. More and more brands and organisations use AI chatbots to communicate with their customers. In the UK, for example,the National Health Service, offers an app that can be used by patients to diagnose their symptoms. It can recommend over-the-counter remedies and similar conventional practices. The upcoming version, will be able to diagnose over 80% of all illnesses that are generally diagnosed by primary care doctors.
Virtual personal assistants are another example of how AI is currently being used. Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant or Amazon Echo, are just a few examples. They can answer questions, book appointments, make phone calls, send messages, play music, or set up reminders. We see examples of smart devices and the expansion of the Internet of things, this area will be improving dramatically over the next few years. Recently, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, revealed how he programs his AI smart home system called Jarvis:
It can be used for things like turning on and off the lights, or it can tell you who is waiting at the door. Companies, like Google, are working on self driving cars that use AI technologies. Soon, taxis and cars will all be autonomous according to people like Elon Musk — CEO of Tesla Motors.
Autonomous cars have a lot of potential; they can find parking lots, potentially eliminate collisions, and even earn their owners money if rented out. In the next few years, everything will be connected to the internet; our devices, tools, homes, transportation, restaurants, stores, and whole cities — even plants — and perhaps we will also start merging our bodies with AI technologies.
How far is the future?
Some people think that we are still far away from some of these larger developments, like self driving cars or general AI, that can help us solve big problems or merging our bodies with AI. But it actually might be closer than we think. One important rule when thinking about technological developments is that these systems grow exponentially and not linearly.
What this means is that if you have, for example, linear growth and you take 30 steps, you just end up with 30 steps. But, if you have exponential growth, you take 30 steps and you get to 1bln. So, for example, 1+1 = 2, 2+2 = 4, 4+4 = 8, 8+8 = 16, 16+16 = 32 and etc. With just 30 steps, we end up with more than 1bln.
In the 1960s, a computer that cost $11 mln was so incredibly large, that it was half the size of the building at MIT. Today, our smartphones are literally a million times smaller and cheaper, and thousands of times more powerful, and this trend will continue. Everything that is currently created helps to make further improvements in the existing field, thus making things more advanced at an ever faster pace. This is why in 20 years the change will most likely be dramatic. For example, all that we use now — like smartphones, email tools, internet, cars for transporting goods, cloud systems or other ready systems — all allow us to create technologies that are faster, more advanced and at lower cost.
Experts predict that by 2025, 30% of jobs will be replaced by robots and AI systems. Just recently, it was announced that Elon Musk — the visionary behind Tesla Motors and SpaceX — is backing a brain-computer interface startup called Neuralink, that will allow for AI systems and devices to merge with human brains. The purpose will be to improve memory, or allow for more direct use of computing devices. It is claimed that the company is in the early stages, but it is known that several other companies are also working on different technologies that could turn us into cyborgs. Ray Kurzweil, known inventor and futurist, predicts that by 2030 our minds will be able to connect to the cloud thanks to tiny nanobots made of DNA. It is worth noting that researchers already used DNA nanobots to target and destroy cancer cells.
What AI means for the future of humanity?
Personally, I believe that Artificial Intelligence will have the most profound impact on humanity in the 21st century. Like many other inventions, it can be used to create good or evil. The internet, for example, provides tremendous opportunities. We can communicate with friends and family instantly, we can access knowledge about anything in a matter of seconds, but at the same time it can be used to spy on people by governments, it can be used for things like pornography, creating propaganda, etc. It can make us less connected with others in real life, as we are hooked to our devices. With AI, things jump to another level. The implications are enormous and hard to predict. AI can be programmed to self improve — Theoretically, there are no limits to what it could do and how advanced it could become.
Here are few potential scenarios:
1. General AI
General AI can be used to solve problems and answer big questions. Theoretically, it could learn anything from the internet and it could be designed to help us to find solutions to issues like intergalactic space travel or it could help to solve some scientific problems, like the relationship between relativity and quantum physics.
2. AI and longevity
AI can help us to increase our life expectancy, battle illnesses and maybe even make us immortal. Known inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, whose predictions have displayed an 86% accuracy rate thus far, believes that “By the 2020s we’ll start using nanobots to complete the job of the immune system,” We might be using nanobots to target diseases, or we might just use them to monitor our health. They could send us updates to our devices, so we can fight disease at very early stages. AI powered robots will perform surgeries making operations safer and more precise.
3. Merging with AI systems
One of the more controversial areas is enhancing our biology by installing electronic implants. Think about searching for something on the internet by simply thinking about it, instead of typing it on an external keyboard or giving voice commands. We already have engineers testing drones that can be controlled with your thoughts using EEG brain-computer interface:
The future might require us to install implants into our bodies, this is a controversial area, but in the same way as many women desire breast implants, many will see electronic brain implants as something desirable. And now think on how much advantage an employee who can instantly get data from the internet has over people who don’t use such technology? Your future employer can decide to hire someone with an implant instead of someone without it, which could force other people to start having them as they would fall behind.
4. Bid data and AI system optimisation
AI can help to optimise and improve the efficiency of any system. It can be used to foresee trends, find patterns and predict outcomes. For example, if you run a company that consists of human resources, financial resources, and physical and non physical assets; customers and other variables, an AI system could analyse all these different elements and be programmed to optimise performance for the entire company, find the best solutions or eliminate friction, and do whatever is required. In the future, AI will be able to run multiple operations for the company simultaneously.
5. AI and the future of the workplace
Many jobs will become obsolete. Over the next few years we will see increased demand for engineers and programmers, and declining demand for many other jobs. AI systems and robots will slowly take over human tasks. Autonomous cars will eliminate the need for drivers. AI software will be able to diagnose health problems. Amazon, for example, recently unveiled its grocery store that has no checkouts. You just tap your phone when you get inside, you pick what you like and put it in your bag. It charges you for the items you’ve picked when you leave the store. Chatbots will slowly replace customer service agents. The justice system will be dramatically transformed. Apps like DoNotPay help with legal advice. It has already helped to overturn at least 200,000 parking tickets so far. Users can provide details surrounding the violation, and the app can then just create a letter that can be used to contest the ticket. These are only a few examples, but there are very few jobs that won’t be affected by this shift.
6. The dark side of AI
In recent years some of the greatest minds alive — like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Bill Gates — have all raised concerns about AI. The world becomes more and more interconnected, and in the next 20 years, most of what we interact with, will be software driven and connected through computer networks. Autonomous cars, will become aware of other cars, and work on optimising the flow of traffic to make driving safe which will all be controlled by AI.
Imagine now that there is some kind of bug or an error and suddenly all cars crash or break? Maybe someone just hacks and reprograms the system for it to crash. Maybe some group or government hacks the system, it could cause chaos. AI that, can access any system, from our homes, devices, cars to buildings and power grids, could make a big mess if used irresponsibly. In the same way that a computer virus can compromise current computer networks, it could affect AI driven Internet of things. This could have devastating implications. Financial markets could crash, every aspect of our lives could be impacted. It is certainly more dangerous than nuclear weapons.
We don’t really know how superintelligence will behave, something that is trillions of times smarter than us, could make very different decisions from us and have a different perspective on things. There is no reason to think that it will not develop strategies to secure its dominance. Imagine trying to explain to someone who lived a few thousand years ago how our world looks like today, what kind of tools we use. Can you imagine explaining things like apps and computer programs? Now think about a superior intelligence that is trillions of times smarter than people like Einstein or Tesla; the ideas that it will come up with, may be very hard for us to understand.
One thing is certain, it is coming — and whether we like it or not — we will experience some of these revolutionary changes over the next 20 years.
About the Author
Mike Sygula is a blogger, entrepreneur and activist promoting alternative ideas to raise public consciousness of the important issues facing humankind. He is the founder of Truth Theory.
This article (Artificial Intelligence – The Biggest Hope Or The Greatest Threat To Humanity?) was originally featured at Truth Theory and is re-posted here with permission.
Our species has long agonized over the concept of human consciousness. What exactly causes it, and why did we evolve to experience consciousness?
Now, a new study has uncovered a clue in the hunt for answers, and it reveals that the human brain might have more in common with the universe than we could have imagined.
According to a team of researchers from France and Canada, our brains might produce consciousness as something of a side effect of increasing entropy, a process that has been taking place throughout the universe since the Big Bang.
Their study has been accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review E.
The concept of entropy is famously confusing, and the definition has evolved over time. Essentially, entropy is a thermodynamic property that refers to the degree of disorder or randomness in a system. It can be summed up as the description of a system’s progression from order to disorder.
The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy can only remain constant or increase within a closed system — a system cannot move from high entropy to low entropy without outside interference.
A common example that demonstrates entropy is an ice cube melting — the cube is in a state of low entropy, but as it melts and disorder grows, entropy increases.
Many physicists think that the universe itself is in a constant state of increasing entropy. When the Big Bang occurred, the universe was in a state of low entropy, and as it continues to gradually spread out, it is growing into a higher entropy system.
Based on this new study, our brain may be undergoing something similar, and consciousness happens to be a side effect of the process.
The Brain and Disorder
To see how the concept of entropy could be applied to the human brain, the researchers analyzed the amount of order in our brains while we’re conscious compared to when we’re not.
They did this by modeling the networks of neurons in the brains of nine participants, seven of whom had epilepsy.
They looked at whether or not neurons were oscillating in phase with one another as this could tell them if the brain cells were linked. They compared observations from when patients were awake, when they were asleep, and when patients with epilepsy were having seizures.
The researchers found that the participants’ brains displayed higher entropy when fully conscious.
“We find a surprisingly simple result: normal wakeful states are characterized by the greatest number of possible configurations of interactions between brain networks, representing highest entropy values,” the team wrote in the study.
This finding prompted the researchers to suggest that consciousness might be a side effect of a system working to maximize information exchange. In other words, human consciousness emerges due to increasing entropy.
While the team’s theory is exciting and will likely lead to further research exploring a potential link between human consciousness and entropy, it is far from conclusive.
The study’s sample size was exceptionally small, so they’ll need to replicate their results on larger groups and different types of brain states.
Still, it provides a fascinating explanation for human consciousness and may be the clue that eventually helps us fully understand the strange phenomenon.
By Chelsea Gohd, Futurism.com
Many people have the feeling as if something big is going to happen, yet nobody really knows what this big change is going to be. It is starting to reveal itself at the edge of the horizon.
Over the last couple of decennium, exponentially more people started to feel a bigger affinity towards spirituality.
Something is not only changing in the world, but also inside of us. There seems to be a link between those changes. It seems like more people are starting to wake up and experience a so-called ‘spiritual awakening’.
This is a process of letting go of the person they have become, to become the person they are meant to be. Being more perceptive to what is happening within ourselves and to what is happening around us.
A spiritual awakening is for every person different, so is the way a person experiences spirituality and to which degree it influences their life on a daily base.
Some people do not even realize they experience symptoms of a spiritual awakening, because they don’t know how to categorize their experience.
Here is a list of different symptoms which are linked to a spiritual awakening. Which ones these symptoms did you experience or which ones can you recognize?
Extremely vivid and lucid dreams
Ever had the feeling after waking up from a deep sleep, that you were not sure if something really happened or if you dreamt it?
These are the extreme vivid dreams. Sometimes you will even find yourself being conscious in a dream. The moment that you realize you are dreaming you can take control of the dream, and experience the infinite possibilities of a lucid dream.
A sudden interest in the paranormal and metaphysical subjects
This sudden interest can help a person evolve and learn more about the truths of the world that are unspoken in the mainstream media. The paranormal and metaphysics can interest everyone in a way that speaks to them personally.
Some people are drawn to the side of meditation, crystals, healing and energy work; while others enjoy aliens, conspiracy, technology and government matters. It’s all about finding what resonates with you the most.
Life changing events
This will be an event that will force you to reflect on your life. Most of the time it will be a signal that you have to take things easier and slow down. This can come to every person in a different way.
Some will witness this in the form of a death or loss of a loved one, others a divorce, a loss of a house or job.
In some cases even a burnout. In other words, a life altering event that forces you to re-evaluate your life and makes you see a bigger picture.
The urge to say goodbye to restrictive patterns
You suddenly have an extreme desire to truly start living your life. Everything and everyone that stands in the way of achieving this goal is bound to hear the words ‘goodbye’.
This counts for the horrific job that drains the life out of you but also the toxic people that are holding you back. The process of finding yourself and finding out where your true passion lies will make you evolve in the process of spiritual awakening.
Time seems to go faster
The acceleration of time is also a clear symptom, this can be explained by the big events that are occurring in your life.
Everything is changing around you and you can’t stop it. The best thing you can do is try to live your life a conscious as possible, acknowledge the ‘now’.
Getting a new perspective on life
When an individual understands that they are infinite and eternal beings, they are able to take a grander perspective.
Suddenly, the problems and issues that are happening in the present moment can be seen for what they really are: temporary, and largely insignificant. This has the effect that you are able to take things less serious.
Synchronicities get noticeable
Synchronicities, or meaningful coincidences, appear more frequently. It is a sign of your intuition and connectedness to everything and everyone. It is a magical phenomenon that lets us know we are open to spiritual guidance and on the right path.
Synchronicity can be seen as a part of feeling this sensation. The feeling of being part of everything and everything being a part of you. This is a symptom that shows advanced spiritual awakening.
Science has recently shed light on the fact that what we used to perceive as ‘human’ aura is actually real. All of our bodies emit an electromagnetic field, and this fact plays a very important role far beyond what is commonly known when it comes to understanding our biology, and the interconnectedness we share with all life.
For example, did you know that the heart emits the largest electromagnetic field of all the body’s major organs? These fields and the information encoded into them can change based on how we are feeling, what we thinking, and different emotions we take on. The heart even sends signals to the brain through a system of neurons that have both short-term and long-term memory, and these signals can affect our emotional experiences. The emotional information that’s modulated and coded into these fields changes their nature, and these fields can impact those around us. As Rollin McCraty, Ph.D, and director of research at The HeartMath institute tell us, “we are fundamentally and deeply connected with each other and the planet itself.”
Research findings have shown that as we practice heart coherence and radiate love and compassion, our heart generates a coherent electromagnetic wave into the local field environment that facilitates social coherence, whether in the home, workplace, classroom or sitting around a table. As more individuals radiate heart coherence, it builds an energetic field that makes it easier for others to connect with their heart. So, theoretically it is possible that enough people building individual and social coherence could actually contribute to an unfolding global coherence. (1)
The quote above comes from Dr. Deborah Rozman, the President of Quantum Intech. We are living in exciting times when it comes to science, and although not emphasized and studied in the mainstream as much as we’d like, science is acknowledging that we are all part of a giant web of connections that, not only encompasses life on this planet, but our entire solar system and what lies beyond it.
So, what exactly is heart coherence? Well, it implies order, structure, and as Dr. Rozman puts it, “an alignment within and amongst systems – whether quantum particle, organisms, human beings, social groups, planets or galaxies. This harmonious order signifies a coherent system whose optimal functioning is directly related to the ease and flow in its processes.” Basically, feelings of love, gratitude, appreciation and other ‘positive’ emotions not only have an effect on our nervous system, but they have an affect on those around us, far beyond what we might have previously thought.
It’s similar to the studies that have been conducted regarding mass meditation and prayer. As far as their effects on physical systems, numerous publications have yielded statistically significant results. For a selected list of downloadable peer-reviewed journal articles reporting studies of this type of phenomena, mostly published in the 21st century, you can click here.
Another point that illustrates the importance of coherence is the fact that several organizations around the world have conducted synchronized meditations, prayers, intention experiments, and more. A number of studies have shown that collective meditations, prayer or focused intention directed toward a certain positive outcome can have measurable effects.
For example, one study was done during the Israel-Lebanon war in the 1980s. Two Harvard University professors organized groups of experienced meditators in Jerusalem, Yugoslavia, and the United states with the specific purpose of focusing attention on the area of conflict at various intervals over a 27-month period. During the course of the study, the levels of violence in Lebanon decreased between 40 and 80 percent each time a meditating group was in place. The average number of people killed during the war each day dropped from 12 to three, and war-related injuries fell by 70 percent. (1)
Another great example is a study that was conducted in 1993 in Washington, D.C., which showed a 25 percent drop in crime rates when 2,500 meditators meditated during a specific periods of time with that intention.
Every individual’s energy affects the collective field environment. The means each person’s emotions and intentions generate an energy that affects the field. A first step in diffusing societal stress in the global field is for each of us to take personal responsibility for our own energies. We can do this by increasing our personal coherence and raising our vibratory rate, which helps us become more conscious of the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes that we are feeding the field each day. We have a choice in every moment to take to heart the significance of intentionally managing our energies. This is the free will or local freedom that can create global cohesion. – Dr. Rozman (1)
The Global Coherence Initiative (GCI)
The GCI in an international cooperative effort to help activate the heart of humanity and facilitate a shift in global consciousness. It’s primary focuses are to invite people to participate by actively adding more heart-coherent love, care, and compassion into the planetary field. The second is scientific research on how we are all energetically connected with each other and the planet, and how we can utilize this interconnectivity, which is very real, to raise our personal vibration to assist in creating a better world.
The hypotheses of the researchers and scientists behind this process are as follows:
- The Earth’s magnetic fields are a carrier of biologically relevant information that connects all living systems
- Every person affects this global information field. Large numbers of people creating heart-coherent states of love, appreciation, care, and compassion can generate a more coherent field environment that benefits others and helps off-set the current planetary discord and incoherence
- There is a feedback loop between human beings and Earth’s energetic/magnetic systems
- Earth has several sources of magnetic fields that affect us all. Two of them are the geomagnetic field that emanates from the core of the Earth, and the fields that exist between Earth and the ionosphere. These fields surround the entire planet and act as protective shields blocking out the harmful effects of solar radiation, cosmic rays, sand, and other forms of space weather. Without these fields, ice as we know it could not exist on Earth. They are part of the dynamic ecosystem of our planet
Think about the current state of our planet. We are definitely not in coherence, with all of the violence, war, hate, and greed that still plague our planet, we have a lot of work to do. We do not yet know how these thoughts, emotions, and feelings are affecting the entire planet, and what type of information these experiences are encoding into once electromagnetic fields, and how it is interacting with that of the Earth’s. Things are changing, however. There is definitely a shift within people who are desiring a better experience here on planet Earth.
These energetic fields are known to scientists, but there are still many unknowns. Solar activity and the rhythms taking place on Earth’s magnetic fields have an impact on health and behaviour. This is firmly established in scientific literature. (source)(source)
Scientific literature also firmly establishes that several physiological rhythms and global collective behaviours are not only synchronized with solar and geomagnetic activity, but that disruptions in these fields can create adverse effects on human health and behaviour. (source)(source)(source)
When the Earth’s magnetic field environment is distributed it can cause sleep problems, mental confusion, usual lack of energy or a feeling of being on edge or overwhelmed for no apparent reason. At other times, when the Earth’s fields are stable and certain measures of solar activity are increased, people report increased positive feelings and more creativity and inspiration. This is likely due to a coupling between the human brain, cardiovascular and nervous system with resonating geomagnetic frequencies. (1)
The Earth and ionosphere generate frequencies that range from 0.01 hertz to 300 hertz, some of which are in the exact same frequency range as the one happening in our brain, cardiovascular system, and autonomic nervous system. This fact is one way to explain how fluctuations in the Earth’s and Sun’s magnetic fields can influence us. Changes in these fields have also been shown to affect our brain waves, heart rhythms, memory, athletics performance, and overall health.
Changes in the Earth’s fields from extreme solar activity have been linked to some of humanity’s greatest creations of art, as well as some of its most tragic events. (source)
We know how these fields affect us, but what about how we affect these fields? That’s the real question here. GCI scientists believe that because brain wave and heart rhythm frequencies overlap the Earth’s field resonance, we are not just receivers of biologically relevant information, but also feed information into the global field, thus creating a feedback loop with the Earth’s magnetic fields.
Research is indicating that human emotions and consciousness encode information into the geomagnetic field and this encoded information is distributed globally. The Earth’s magnetic fields act as carrier waves for this information which influences all living systems and the collective consciousness.
This research, which is still in its infancy, has great ramifications. It will further push along the fact that our attitudes, emotions, and intentions actually matter, a lot, and that these factors within the realm of non-material science can affect all life on Earth. Coherent, cooperative intention could impact global events and improve the quality of life on Earth. Practicing love, gratitude, appreciation, and bettering ourselves as individuals is one out of many action steps towards changing our planet for the better.
So What Can You Do?
So, next time you are upset, angry, or frustrated, try observing yourself and how you react. It’s great practice to try and lose your buttons so they cannot be pushed, and work on your personal development. You have to do whatever you can to feel good, which could include exercise, eating healthy, minimizing electronics time, spending time with friends, animals, and more. You could practice being less judgemental, and work on your intentions by figuring out if they are coming from a ‘good’ place. You could be more grateful, you could help others, and you can treat others how they want to be treated.
There are a number of tools you could use, like meditation, for example, to assist you with these action steps. Bottom line, if you are at peace with yourself, and have control over your emotions, you are helping the planet and others around you. If you are constantly angry, harming others or have negative intentions, you could be doing the exact opposite.
To further your research on this topic, an excellent place to start is the at the Institute of HeartMath. The Institute of HeartMath is an internationally recognized nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to helping people reduce stress, self-regulate emotions, and build energy and resilience for healthy, happy lives.
Loneliness can reliably be linked to a significant increase in the risk of early mortality, according to a study at Brigham Young University. Head author, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, notes that “substantial evidence now indicates that individuals lacking social connections (both objective and subjective social isolation) are at risk for premature mortality.”
Holt-Lunstad believes the risks associated with loneliness are already greater than such established dangers as obesity:
Several decades ago scientists who observed widespread dietary and behavior changes raised warnings about obesity and related health problems. The present obesity epidemic had been predicted. Obesity now receives constant coverage in the media and in public health policy. The current status of research on the risks of loneliness and social isolation is similar to that of research on obesity 3 decades ago… Current evidence indicates that heightened risk for mortality from a lack of social relationships is greater than that from obesity.
Furthermore, she warns that “researchers have predicted that loneliness will reach epidemic proportions by 2030 unless action is taken.”
Why Are We So Isolated From Each Other?
From the long view, it can be said that Western civilization as a whole has fostered a gradual disintegration of our physical and social ties. With an emphasis on individual goals and an almost fanatical regard for personal achievement, the traditional institutions of family and community and their capacity to provide their members with a sense of belonging and shared purpose have become significantly fragmented.
The family unit has gone from large generations-linked mutual support systems to small and immediate units, sometimes involving single parents whose necessities make it very difficult to create a stable home environment for their children. Add to that the fact that more and more people are not even building families, and our society has more people living alone than at any other time in history. This includes the elderly, who are less likely to find a ‘fit’ living within their children’s families than ever before.
The decline of the ‘community’ is perhaps as significant as the disintegration of the family unit. In Western-style communities, people work as a collection of individual units interacting by specific functions rather than as an interrelated whole with a significant shared identity. Naturally, attempts are made today to join or build ‘communities’ all the time, but like the Meetup model, they are founded on the gathering of select people with similar interests and purposes, rather than a shared embrace of all people within a certain geographical area.
The Rise of Social Media
I believe the rise in prominence of social media has in part been fuelled by the sense of alienation we have long felt within our modern society. I don’t believe social media is the root cause of our loneliness, as some speculate, but rather a symptom of this much longer-standing social problem. Connecting via chats and web pages is just something that we have gotten into the habit of reaching for since it is so immediately accessible. But like any quick fix, it does not end up fulfilling our deeper needs, either individually or as a society.
If we see that our society has been slowly disintegrating over hundreds of years, then it becomes incumbent upon us as a society (if we can still even identify ourselves with our ‘society’) to take measures to remedy this situation. What those measures might be, though, given how things seem to be trending, is a matter of great conjecture.
On Being Alone
One approach is to first acknowledge that Western society’s emphasis on the individual is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I believe that the development of personal integrity, creativity, and autonomy is a critical step in the evolution of human consciousness. Learning how to be alone with oneself is a part of that process. In his work entitled Pensées, French philosopher Blaise Pascal observed that “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
As evidenced by Eastern gurus and mystics, one can be perfectly content in isolation. This can be greatly facilitated by the practice of meditation and other such methods that give us a direct perception of our energetic connectedness not only with other people, but with all things. In this higher state, the damaging emotional impact of loneliness and social isolation are not experienced.
Our Next Step
Still, the life of the yogi remains for the few. The rest of us, it seems, have come to this planet to interact, share, and love. And we have not incarnated into this dense physical world to get better at virtual relationships. At this stage, we have perhaps gotten a bit too accustomed to social isolation for our own good.
Holt-Lunstad notes that “although living alone can offer conveniences and advantages for an individual, this meta-analysis indicates that physical health is not among them.” She also cites another study that “has demonstrated higher survival rates for those who are more socially connected.” And then there is the seminal 75-Year Harvard University study, where “it was universally clear that without loving and supportive relationships, men in the study were not happy.” The message is becoming clear: we need to come together.
We are perhaps at a larger turning point in our development than most of us realize. It seems that we have reached the extreme edge of the exploration of individualism, and we are readying to move into greater balance with a collective identity. This is not a return to traditional ways, but rather a synthesis of our growth as individuals with the shared experience we are now hungering for. This synthesis signifies the next stage of our evolution.