Article for New Edge Magazine
The technological future promises unprecedented human flourishing. Currently, the large emotional and spiritual experience economy is fueling a growing wellness paradigm, while millennials actively reshape the future of consumption by investing in leisure and health. Positive psychology* (applied approach to optimal human flourishing) is informing design thinking globally, bringing digital experiences which are deeply human-centered. There seems to be a glamorous promise of human happiness in the not-so-far future. As humanity advances, human enhancement is the frontier of cultural developments. Mindfulness and spiritual practices are multiplying globally. The attunement into the inner dimensions brings a cultural shift in priorities and values - replacing the need for linear achievement with the desire for happiness and harmonious interaction. Our emotional lives become the first priority, which informs the philosophies that deal with the next stage of human evolution (trans-/post-/humanism). Human enhancement or augmentation, seeks to enhance our emotional lives and maximize our potential, proposing a complete overhaul of the human being so that we might live longer, enjoy greater cognitive abilities and experience more happiness. This is achieved with the use pharmacological, technological and biological means, to extend ourselves beyond our human limitations as we know them. The dissolution of boundaries between technology and humans, is expanding the understanding of human psychological and inner spiritual dimensions. “Mindfulness and connect with the greater consciousness will be the only tools to outsmart machines. The practice of mindfulness will not just be an option but a survival imperative.” (1.) Certainly, human enhancement will augment, scale up and expose a realm of human motivations related to inner spiritual dimensions of human existence. This is a process of engineering a new humanity - an Augmented humanity*. This is a process of augmenting what is truly human - the emotional, spiritual and creative processes. By scaling up human cognitive, perceptual and emotional capacities, an augmented human has savant-like skills and enhanced perceptions, experiencing new sensory dimensions of hearing, speaking and feeling. As we augment the inner desire for happiness, mindfulness and spiritual practices become a prerequisite for the future of human flourishing. “Proponents of positive psychology view flourishing as a core good denoted by the term happiness, which is defined as a pleasant, engaged and meaningful life. … Happiness is a spiritual experience of living where individuals live ever-moment from a higher-order place of love, grace and gratitude.” (2.) Happiness is one of most intrinsic human motivations, despite the fact that the meaning of being happy is often unclear. In accordance with posthumanist ideals, which advocate for a deeper understanding of the world and enhancing cognitive and physical abilities, happiness and wellbeing are achieved by reshaping and reengineering our psyches and bodies. Will we be able to engineer a state of unconditional happiness, and a new spiritual awakening in the techno-future? The future of human flourishing, promises the end of demonising our humanity, allowing for scaling up of our compassion, happiness and empathic awareness. This is where we are no longer be concerned with linear achievement, and standards others have set for us. The untempered lust for results, achievements, and competitive drive, is replaced by a deep awareness of the eternal nature within. In this unconditional state of being, we stop measuring success by productivity, and consider happiness as the highest value for global success. We redefine how we give our time and global contribution value. This will be a world, where attunement with deep inner nature becomes the new moral and ethical code, aware people the new standard, and where spirituality is freed from oppressive, dogmatic and limiting belief systems. Sources: 4 steps to prepare for augmented humanity and the new world of work, Rowan Tonkin, 15.11.2018; from Miner, M., Dowson, M., & Devenish, S. (2012). Beyond well-being: Spirituality and human flourishing. Charlotte, N.C: Information Age Publishing, Inc. Kurzweil, Ray. The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence. New York: Viking, 1999. Print. * “Positive Psychology is the scientific study of human flourishing, and an applied approach to optimal functioning. It has also been defined as the study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals, communities, and organisations to thrive.” Source: Positive Psychology Institute. ** “Augmented Humanity”, is a phrase that was coined in 2010 by ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Augmentation of the human being is achieved through pharmacological methods, genetic engineering, tools for cognition and bodily enhancement, and the use of any other technology to both aid, and replace, and augment human capability.