Where healthcare policy & the future of humanity meet is at the intersection of technology and consciousness.
The race is on
Given the transition of the New Year, there are lots of posts out there highlighting current tech milestones, such as: A Big Year for Biotech: Bugs as Drugs, Precision Gene Editing, and Fake Food by Singularity University writer Alison E. Berman, which cites –
- Drag and drop gene editing (CRISPR)
- Personal DNA testing approved by the FDA (23andMe)
- Real “fake food” grown in a lab
- Microbiome drugs
Also, in Six Technologies That Hit Their Tipping Points in 2015, Vivek Wadhwa names:
- the expansion of the Internet to “everyone, everywhere”
- “doctors in our pockets” (telemedicine, apps, wearable technology)
- Bitcoin – the “incorruptible digital ledger that canbe used to record practically anything” (including legal infrastructure)
- “engineering of life” (again, CRISPR)
- “the drone age”
- “unlimited clean energy”
Wadhwa, like many, warns:
So we have a lot to be cheerful about and a lot to look forward to during the years ahead, as technology makes its major leaps forward. We just have to be careful to use it for bettering mankind rather than for holding it back—because there are as many risks as opportunities.
This is a familiar theme. Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk … everyone is sounding the horn that we’re at a crossroads where we’re either break through our limits and create a utopian future, or continue carrying the dark side into our destruction.
I said at Stanford MedX and Health 2.0 last year, that:
We’re in a race for our future as a species: accelerating technology on one hand, consciousness on the other.
Recently, I was surprised yet not surprised to see a similar quote from Max Tegman.
What are we supposed to do besides push tech to the limits? What is “consciousness” or for that matter, higher or enlightened consciousness?
(I know from Jack Kornfield that even after it, comes the laundry … and that it has something to do with empathy, compassion, and love … more on this later. Though I’ve written on some experiences in A Friend of All Faiths. and about some underlying ideas in Future Medicine).
A personal resonance
As I look back on my life so far, it’s almost as if the cosmos seeded certain things – like a universal Dungeons and Dragons, or one of those games where you pick up a sword or shield or some magical tool and drop it into your background so you can make the quantum leap into the next level when you face your next challenge.
- As a boy I was fascinated with my Zaydie’s science books, including those on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.(And now the Singularity is Near).
- My grade school teacher told me he had studied Kabbalah and could time-travel.
- I wrote a high school paper on recombinant DNA. (Here we are with CRISPR).
- I was also on the debate team. Our topic: universal health care (Edward Kennedy’s version of healthcare reform). I later became a healthcare lawyer.
Man, I resonate.
I’ll write about consciousness to come in future posts. I’m into energy healing, meditation, and the auric field.
We don’t talk a lot about this in health tech, but I believe it’s all connected.
Beyond law, and beyond regulation, we need to train our leaders in wisdom.
That means our wisdom traditions have a lot to say about where we’re going next.
Another turn I took on the educational path was studying political science at Columbia University.
- I wrote my thesis on the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), the notion that no nation could preemptively launch nuclear weapons, because the fate of the Earth was in balance.
Recently I’ve been watching speeches of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyanhu such as his talk to the UN in which he incorporates 45 seconds of silence, during which he glares at the UN leaders.
This is significant.
Silence is an important voice in our noisy world.
I recently read that there are technologies already on the market that measure and track trends going on inside your pet–wearables for the pet market–and, that promise to translate your dog’s barks into words.
That’s fine in terms of species impartiality and greater communication with our four-legged brothers and sisters. We’ll of course have to change certain expressions, such as “his bark is worse than his bite” — once our modern equivalents of C3Pio translate barks into human language.
But the healing power of silence… those magical moments staring up at a redwood tree … the light streaming down through the treetops … a bubbling stream ….
And the power to seclude myself in meditation,without my refrigerator or some other gadget talking to me (or without some gadget putting me in to that world) … images and impressions arising spontaneously from within (which may or may not be the same as from the brain, if the process is metaphysical as well as physical and physiological and biological) and not being guided by pre-programming or even by a machine intelligence programming that alters with my own flow….
The times are a’changing.
Part of me hesitates – the tracking is growing thicker and thicker, and once we take a position online it is there forever. Still, risk is everywhere.
What moves me about the speech is this (my words here):
Resonant is the voice of moral authority Netanyahu takes, the long silence during which he lets the weight of inaction rest heavy on world leaders, his reference to Israeli contributions to humanity and commitment to peace and religious tolerance, and his final sentence in which he advises that standing for Israel is necessary because Israel is defending other countries from aggression.
He is the voice against MAD.
He invokes the biblical prophets, but his prophecy involves the same kinds of future against which scientists and tech leaders warn when they speak to the dangers of a runaway AI (artificial intelligence).
He says that aggression, unless checked, only tends to increase. I say:
With CRISPR and other technologies – vaster and more frightening, if you can believe it, than nuclear technology (because they don’t require nation-states to develop) – humanity has got to come together in our lifetimes, if we’re going to make it out to the stars.
We are in a race.
If Netyanahu is not your icon or you disagree with his politics, still, he speaks to the oneness of humanity; he still appeals to the urge for peace even in his political enemies; he nonetheless speaks to the importance of contributions to science and progress to which all peoples aspire.
Appeasement never works; nor does hatred. The empires that were supposed to last a thousand years, have collapsed. So he shares in his speech – the rhetoric is uplifting and optimistic, even while the silent glares carry the heavy resonance of leaders’ inaction in the face of oppression.
In this timeline, we look to peace, to a future for humanity where health and wellness flourish because that is a shared commitment by all – because the tech that informs our health and happiness also inform us of scenarios for multiple futures and the one in which everyone thrives involves certain values and virtues.
It’s all about the cat
It’s Shrodinger’s Cat all over again. Are we alive and dead at the same time? Which future will we choose–utopian and dystopian?
Law and regulation can’t solve it all.
Wisdom is required.
When I had an auto crash and near-death experience (NDE) almost two decades ago, I went to a place where I saw angels (or beings) sitting around with scrolls, representing the blueprint for my life.
I was told essentially that being in the body meant, above all, service to peace, to the planet.
The world will either end or open up … I believe the latter.
Whether by deus ex machina or a clever intervention disguised as pure mathematics and human free will/evolution, I don’t know. I’m excited to think about the possibilities.
Said Lao Tzu:
If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.
I take this from the book Constellating World Peace, One Family at a Time by my friends Peter and Jamy Faust. It talks about healing the family – the individual family, the world family.
The reason I’m a healthcare lawyer is because I’m fascinated by the healing process, and the power of healing to erode ideologies and expose what the yogic sage Patanjali describes as the true nature of the human heart, when unobstructed by the fluctuations of the mind – and this is existence, consciousness, and bliss.