The wisdom of technology

Wisdom 2.0 has grown very fast in only four years. From its first panel discussion in May 2010, between Google VP Bradley Horowitz and zen teacher Joan Halifax, the conference has stayed focused on its signature blend of technology and spirituality. In February 2013 Wisdom 2.0 filled the Concourse Exhibition Centre in San Francisco with some 1500 attendees, attracted by speakers including Ford CEO Bill Ford, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, Huffington Post editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington and members of US congressTulsi Gabbard and Tim Ryan. A remarkable cross section of technology, business and politics for a conference that whose main focus is on the work of spiritual teachers like Jack Kornfield and Eckhart Tolle.

For many people the question, “what can technology learn from spirituality?” will meet with the flat out answer, “nothing”. Our secular society has learned to question spiritual teaching with the same skepticism we might bring to discussions of the supernatural and mysticism. But the success of Wisdom 2.0 suggests that its mission — to explore how we live with greater presence, meaning, and mindfulness in the technology age — is relevant to a growing audience. Technology confronts all of us with many challenges to our well being, from dealing with the “always on” work patterns facilitated by mobile technology, to managing the fragmented global communities of social media. As Wisdom 2.0 conference organiser Soren Gordhammer wrote in his 2009 book of the same title; technology is not the answer, but neither is it the problem. What matters instead is awareness, engagement and wisdom.

Read more on Wired UK

 

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Big Brother, big data and the creator culture

News of secret courts being introduced in the world’s oldest democracy should scare any rational human. The right to a public trial has survived feudalism, Henry VIII and the industrial revolution, but couldn’t stand up to the forces of global capitalism. Secret courts could be an idea from Alan Moore’s polemic on Thatcher’s Britain, V for Vendetta (today enjoying a second life inspiring Occupy protestors and the Anonymous hacker group) or from Homeland, the latest novel from science-fiction author Cory Doctorow.

Doctorow’s 2007 young adult novel Little Brother introduced teenage readers to the writer’s outspoken ideas on technology and personal freedom. The novel’s title is of course a play on Big Brother, from the granddaddy of all dystopian SF, George Orwell’s 1984. Orwell’s devastating vision of totalitarian state rule remains chilling, but it has dated with the advance of technology. Orwell was writing at a time when governments, whether the totalitarian dictatorships of Russia and China, or the democracies of western Europe and America, ruled with near absolute power. Today national governments seem increasingly impotent in the face of global economic forces and technological change they cannot begin to keep pace with.

Read more @ Guardian Books

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