A friend recently sent us an article by the head of Mercedes Benz, talking about some of the disruptive changes that are coming due to the combination of AI (artificial intelligence) and robotics. For instance, we are on the cusp of self-driving vehicles, which is exciting news for most people, but an existential threat to automakers and truck drivers. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. One of the fastest-developing, and potentially most disruptive, changes is a type of artificial intelligence, called neural networks, that mimics the way the brain learns.
Two years ago a computer was finally able to beat the world champion at a complex game called “Go.” Then came neural networks which, rather than being carefully programmed, are simply given a goal and instructed to figure out a strategy by trial and error. Each time it plays a game, it evolves according to what works and what doesn’t. The game changer is in the phrase “each time,” because it can play thousands of games each hour. Such a program recently taught itself to beat the top ten Go players simultaneously, which doesn’t sound too impressive until you hear that, starting from scratch, it figured out how to do this in just three days.
AI is already better than humans at hundreds of tasks such as pattern recognition, facial identification, reading medical tests, doing taxes, and driving. Futurists say that by 2025, artificial intelligence and robots will replace virtually all repetitive work and 25% of people may lose their jobs. By 2035 most professions will be gone, with as many as 50% out of work. By 2050 there will be very few of our present jobs left for humans. So, where does this all lead?
It will mean that people need to develop a new bundle of self-definitions, which is one way Swami Kriyananda described the ego. Our new self-identity can no longer depend on occupation, or income level, or the status in society that those represent. We will need to self-define more according to the qualities of our higher chakras, such as love, kindness, caring, and joy.
Finally, it means that we will need to tune in more deeply to God and His eternal qualities. As strangers in a strange new land, we will need to let His whispers guide us through the landscape. The Masters know all of this, of course. Here are some fascinating excerpts from a letter that Paramhansa Yogananda wrote to his most advanced disciple, Rajarshi Janakananda, that give us a glimpse into a world of higher realities:
I have been doing a million things; and I compared my divine state with work and I found this truth: Very few of us know how to differentiate between the duties created by us and the duties assigned to us by God. Most think of their own desire-created duties as divine duties. Human desire-created duties bind and cause reincarnation. . . .
First find what the divine duties are, then use your own ambition to accomplish them, asking God all the time to guide your creative effort and will to perform them as the Divine wishes.
Oh, such joy! I don’t feel any sensations making any permanent impression in me. The ordinary man walks, sleeps, works, earns. I find I am settled in Bliss. I am always in Bliss, ever watching the states of the body and mind when they are awake or asleep or dreaming. Last night I ate, and when I finished I didn’t know I had eaten. All I knew was Bliss Eternal and Light ever spreading. Even now Aum is bounding over my head, tying it with the starry firmament. It is all very strange, all very secret. By meditation He makes the servant sit on the throne. Oh, this secret kingdom is yours and mine, beloved one. There is our permanent ashram, an astral hermitage, a bliss cavern.
Now, that is a future worth living for.
In divine friendship,
P.S. The U.S. edition of our book, Touch of Joy: A Yogi’s Guide to Lasting Happiness, comes out February 20. If you preorder now, our publisher, Crystal Clarity, will send you six gifts: e-books by Yogananda, Swami, and Jyotish.