Will Technology Destroy Humanity?
In this Spot video from a recent darshan at the Isha Institute of Inner-sciences, Sadhguru responds to a question on virtual reality and the impact on humanity. He identifies three factors that will lead us either to doom or wellbeing: commerce and compulsion versus consciousness. He says, “If human beings lived consciously, if the leadership in the world was a conscious leadership, the question of using technology against human wellbeing or the wellbeing of anything wouldn’t arise.”
Questioner: Virtual reality has become one of the most prominent technologies in modern world. Lot of researchers are exploring this technology to bring lot of wellbeing to human beings but currently the technology is causing lot of issues like alter ego, escapism, anti-social behavior and especially addiction to gaming. So how can virtual reality be used to benefit humans and more broadly what is its impact on human consciousness?
Sadhguru: Well, we can use it very well. See, right now we are using it – Sadhguru is still in India! No technology is harmful. It is just that when human mind is in a certain level of destructive mode, every technology is harmful – everything. You can take your laptop and slit somebody’s head. Does it mean to say computers are dangerous? Suppose a few incidents happened like this, in many offices it happened. Let’s say in ten different offices it so happened, somebody took an Apple Air and slit somebody’s head. Does it mean to say laptops are dangerous? No.
Human beings are stupid. Whatever comes their way, they know how to turn it against themselves. When they have turned their own brains against themselves, what else do you want? Now there are “technology de-addiction centers.” You know this? Like there are drug de-addiction, alcohol de-addiction, now technology de-addiction centers. Simply because we are in a compulsive mode. If we start eating, we don’t know when to stop eating. That’s a problem, quite a big problem. If we start drinking, we don’t know when to stop drinking. If we start shopping, we don’t know when to stop shopping. If we start using the phone, we don’t know when to stop using the phone.
The problem is not of technology. The problem is of compulsiveness. When we say compulsiveness, it’s just absence of consciousness. If we were conscious human beings, we would use everything for our wellbeing and everybody’s wellbeing. Because we are compulsive, we start doing something, and we don’t know how to stop. Endlessly, we will do the same silly thing. So whether it’s virtual reality or artificial intelligence or anything, the problem is not of technology; never. Because they are just devices created by us. We are supposed to use it for our wellbeing – that’s the idea. But most of the cutting edge technology always goes into military usage in the world. Obviously, we don’t know how to use it for our wellbeing. We are always using it to destroy something. This has been the thing always, not just now.
Because we have never worked on human consciousness. If human beings lived consciously, if the leadership in the world was a conscious leadership, the question of using technology against human wellbeing or the wellbeing of anything wouldn’t arise. Technology means enhancement of our capability. See right now, I have a microphone. This is an enhancement of our capability. If I spoke without microphone, only this many people would hear. This is just an enhancement. So suppose just because I have microphone, I start screaming, now the problem is not of microphone. You think the problem is of microphone? “Oh, this microphone is screaming so loudly” – is it? This is what we are talking.
No technology is a problem, no matter what it is. The question is, will we use it consciously, or will we use it either compulsively or commercially? Commerce is a compulsion right now. We started trading like this: I have some rice, you have some chicken; we exchanged little, okay? Because I had something extra; I had more potatoes, you had more eggs, we exchanged; this is how commerce started. Something excess, we give it to you; what you have excess, you give it to me, so that you live your life, I live my life.
Slowly, because of our compulsiveness, we’ve grown commerce to such a point that it controls every aspect of our life, right now. Well, the government is telling you, please all of you take more loans, otherwise the economy will go down, yes or no? They are encouraging you because somebody told me, “Sadhguru, you have no credit worthiness, because you’ve never taken a loan.” I thought it’s a good thing! I thought that I’ve never taken a loan is a very good thing, but they’re telling me it’s a bad thing. “You have no credit worthiness. You must take some loan.” What do I do? “Just buy a house somewhere. Just buy a house somewhere and rent it, Sadhguru. You will have credit worthiness.”
This is compulsiveness, transformed itself into commerce, isn’t it? Well, people build a home because they want to live there. But now we made this so compulsive that commerce is eating up the planet. Just recently, I don’t know if you saw this news, about twenty days ago, one of the Russian container carriers, a big ship, something like a 40,000 ton ship broke through the Arctic ice and they established a new route, where they could not come. This reduces the distance to where it used to travel by eight thousand kilometers and they’re going to save so much money. But they are going through the Arctic ice because it’s thin, they’re breaking through. And commercial shipping is going to happen through the Arctic. This is compulsive commerce – you don’t understand what the hell you are doing. Yes or no?
It’s just compulsiveness. Don’t call this commerce, this is just human compulsiveness. They can’t keep quiet; they have to do something. This is why we thought at least if we get the whole population to simply sit quietly for twenty-one minutes, the planet could be saved. Even if they don’t know how to meditate. Just imagine all these 7.6 billion people did nothing for twenty minutes in a day. This is why I have been saying… It is not human intelligence which is saving the planet, it is not human love or compassion which is saving the planet – it is human lethargy. Half the people are lazy – they are the ones who are saving the planet. If everybody gets fully industrious, using all the technology we have, in fifteen, twenty years, I think the planet will be shaved clean. Yes or no?
We are going there. It doesn’t matter what’s the technology, never a technology or any kind of enhancement of capability should be a problem. If human capability is enhanced, should it become a problem? Always it’s a solution for something. But we make it a problem because we use it compulsively. The key is not in holding back the technologies; the key is in making human beings more conscious about how they function.