Intelligence in the age of Consciousness

Yfke Laanstra

When we talk about intelligence levels within leadership and organizational development, we are all familiar with the abbreviations and meanings of IQ (cognitive), EQ (emotional), SQ (spiritual) and FQ (physical). Over time, more and more attention has been paid to self-knowledge and the development of so-called soft skills, to listening to our intuition and the signs of our body. We increasingly act from a holistic vision, in the sense that we recognise emotional, spiritual and mental (energy) bodies as well as our physical bodies. Bodies that each absorb, process and generate ( perceivable ) output.

From IQ to AI
However, in the information-driven age in which we find ourselves today, these quotients are put under pressure and we are challenged to redefine which of them are of real importance and when. For us as human beings: in the world, on the planet and in the society in which we live. On a macro and on a micro level. And more importantly: whether this interpretation, with all of our ongoing insights, is still sufficient. We are increasingly confronted with (self-learning) systems, computers and algorithms that far surpass us in terms of our ability to absorb and process knowledge (read: IQ). Artificial Intelligence (AI) has since arrived and is developing at a rapid speed.

'Within ten years we will be able to buy computers that match the calculating power of our own brain, and less than twenty five years later we will have computers with the capacity of all human brains combined.'

~ from 'Bits, Bytes & Bewustzijn'.


Data is the new oil: an enormous amount of data about us is being generated, collected and analysed. However, the map is not the territory, there is so much more that cannot (yet) be measured, interpreted or observed (in and around us) by contemporary science.

'We move from data to information to knowledge to wisdom. Data isn't real knowledge'

By means of algorithms, however, AI is now able to read, predict and thus influence our behaviour, beliefs, preferences and opinions almost flawlessly. Just think of the Cambridge Analytica scandal surrounding the American presidential elections.

From EQ to LovingAI

'We are faced with the challenge that machines are becoming more and more human and that people are increasingly resembling machines'.

Over the years, the emphasis has shifted to the development of our EQ and SQ: our ability to empathise, be compassionate, be fully present with the other person, and be in touch with our deeper knowledge, our intuition. However, the rise of the smartphone has in many cases (partly) offset this development as we have collectively spent more time behind screens than in face-to-face contact with each other. We are becoming more and more addicted to, or dependent on, computer technology. Technologies that anchor us more and more in our heads, in time, in the material, increasingly disconnected from our feelings and from the world around us. Our streetscape and social life are increasingly dominated by people immersed in their smartphones, often referred to as zombification. Statistics worldwide show that we are more connected than ever, but that as a collective we have never felt so alone.

In addition to Smart, many systems are now becoming Kind (EQ, https://lovingai.org). Artificial intelligence is becoming able to read our facial expressions through cameras, to interpret micro-signals and from there to respond to our feelings. Microsignals such as perspiration levels, temperature and hormone fluctuations. In addition, it can also read microsignals in our voice via microphones, by means of voice recognition. Chatbots and digital assistants (think of Ava or Mica) are becoming increasingly human, both visually and audibly, AI psychiatrists and virtual therapists are emerging and Virtual Reality is being used to increase empathy. Through this 'artificial EQ', AI is able to respond appropriately: for example, to show understanding and compassion when appropriate. 

All this makes it less and less clear where our own feelings and thoughts actually originate from. Have they been influenced and manipulated from the outside, for example by AI systems/supercomputers such as Google and Facebook, or are they to be considered 'original'? Of course there are a lot of programs running in each of us, out of our upbringing, our culture and our frame of reference, but nowadays each moment we are bombarded with input and stimuli that have an influence on both our outside and inside world. Knowing oneself is no longer a luxury but a bitter necessity. If only to guard our autonomy, personal space and free will.

Timeframe
It is almost impossible to keep track of all these developments, the innovations, the automation, the processing of all data and in the meantime to guarding the human component. The world around us is becoming increasingly transparent, boundless and fluid. Boundaries are blurring between virtual and analogue worlds, between man and machine, between biological and artificial. Long-term plans are in vain because the technological tsunami keeps raging. Many organisations and teams experience a dichotomy, in this transition phase from the 'old' method to the new one. Employees and entrepreneurs become over-inflated and burned out. We try to uphold everything, but we have to make choices.

The invitation
All these developments invite us to ask ourselves what it is that makes us human, what sets us apart from the machine and what really needs our attention in terms of growth, both on a personal and on an organisational level. In order to ensure that computer technology supports us and continues to be of service instead of downgrading us as humans to organic robots. For there is no point in competing with the computer; certainly not in terms of processing speed, memory and storage/processing capacity.

'The challenge now is to further explore and develop our being human with all our abilities, to gain a deeper level of self-knowledge about ourselves so that we can (re)activate more of our 'Inner Technology'.

We will then be able to truly combine the power of man & machine, from their synergies. Because the possibilities are vast, in terms of (personal and economic) growth, innovation and (individual and collective) transformation. But first things first.

'We must pay equally as much attention to what it will mean to be or remain human in the future (i.e. What defines us as humans) as we spend on developing infinitely more powerful technologies that will change humanity forever.'

~ Gerd Leonhard in 'Technology vs Humanity'

Consciousness as a USP
We have now outgrown the era in which we focus on levels of intelligence. Through ongoing understanding and computer technological progress, this has now been outpaced by the age of Consciousness. After all, that is what makes us Human and what really distinguishes us from the machine. Our consciousness is, so to speak, our Unique Selling Point. We are able to look at ourselves from a third perspective, to reflect.

Who or what is this 'Self'? What is 'consciousness'? Where is it located? Is it visible, measurable? Where is its origin? Where does it emerge from? Is it the same as your personality? These are some of the big questions that occupy many (neuro)scientists, philosophers and psychologists. Nowadays, however, this research is no longer limited to just these disciplines; there is also a growing fascination for the 'phenomenon' of consciousness within computer science. When this question can be answered and consciousness can be converted into bits and bytes, it can be uploaded into a computer. Then we as humans will be able to live on in a synthetic or virtual body or robots will eventually be able to develop consciousness.

With the advent of advanced computer technologies, its exponential growth and the subsequent insights, we are becoming increasingly aware of what is truly of value:

1. Being conscious of who we are, what we are capable of (so-called Inner Technology*) and the reality we find ourselves in. What you don't know, you can't perceive or activate. #reloadinglostdata

*) For example the power of empathy, compassion, attention, creativity, love, intuition and of our imagination and perception.

2. It is our consciousness that determines our perception, our perception and thus our reality and what we can influence. When we manage to expand our consciousness, we will increase our ability to process information, make new connections, unlock supreme creativity and at the same time disconnect from our personality. We will also be able to activate flow and peak states that are characterized by the experience of timelessness, effortlessness, limitlessness and a sense of bliss. Partly due to a series of chemical activations in our brain.

'The awakening of consciousness is the next evolutionary step for mankind'.

~ Eckhart Tolle

Brain Hacking
In this new era it is no longer about open access to both hemispheres (left/ IQ, right/ EQ) and bridging the gap between them (SQ). It is all about (partly) 'disabling' or in some cases 'hyperactivating' the (entire) neocortex/prefrontal lobe: our thinking, conscious brain and with it the activation of the subconscious. That part of us that is primarily in the driving seat.

There are roughly three expanded states of consciousness:
1. flow states;
2. contemplative and mystical states (transcending the self);
3. psychedelic states.

In order to attain these states, people until recently turned to meditation/yoga, therapy and/or psychedelics. Nowadays the pharmaceutical industry and (computer) technology provide solutions. Solutions that can instantly generate the effect that would otherwise require years of discipline and self-exploration.

Pharmacy
These include chemical products in the form of synthetic drugs such as LSD/XTC and medicines (including Ritalin). Or provided by nature (tripping/microdosing) such as (caffeine, tobacco), Cannabis, Ayahuasca and mushrooms/truffles. Especially in pharmaceuticals we are increasingly able to measure, locate and (de)activate specific chemical reactions in our brain. Reactions that have an impact on our perception and state of mind.
The downside of chemicals is often dependency and possible addiction to them.

Technology 
By placing electrodes/bands (EEG scan, Muse wearable) on the head or by activating specific electromagnetic frequencies, we are able to measure and manipulate brain frequencies and turn on/off certain parts of the brain. In expanded states of consciousness, brain waves move from (hyper) active beta waves to meditative alpha and even deep theta waves. Attention is increasingly shifted to the inner world and the subconscious: where our Inner Technology is concealed. 

Music is known for its influence on our mood: sound tracks with binaural beats or isochronic tones are capable of inducing other states of consciousness. This also applies to immersive Virtual Reality experiences, in which our senses are being hacked. Technology as a biofeedback tool helps us to monitor and train more focused states of consciousness. Imagine the effect of certain visualisation techniques and meditations.

Again, there is a possible dependency on gadgets and wearables. The most desirable scenario is that you are able to activate other states of consciousness on your own and to switch between them, whereby you use technology only as a temporary tool.

By stepping outside ourselves, we gain perspective. By periodically losing our minds we stand a better chance of finding ourselves.

~ from Stealing Fire


Technology & Consciousness: Holistic Hacking
In the meantime, there is a booming economy, the so-called 'altered states economy', anticipating the collective quest to break free from prison of our mind, our personality and to find inner peace and fulfilment.

Hacking is currently one of the latest buzz words. This word is commonly associated with illegally breaking into computers and stealing information or installing viruses. Today however, it often represents finding ways to do things smarter, faster and more effective. Often with the help of computer technology such as apps, gadgets and wearables (gadgets that you carry on your body). Especially when it comes to your quality of life, organising your time or improving your health. Think of Life Hacking and Biohacking. In this context, Holistic Hacking stands for a specific emphasis on a holistic approach to health, well-being and human potential. Holistic Hacking represents a movement in which we strive to find answers to questions such as 'how does our consciousness relate to computer technology', 'what is it that unlocks human potential' and 'what technologies assist us in this?'.

Some (international) examples of this are:

1. Consciousness Hacking

'Engineering the future of psychological, emotional and spiritual wellbeing'

This is a movement founded in the US at the end of 2013 by Mikey Siegel, a computer engineer and robotics expert from Silicon Valley. There are now more than 20 connected locations, of which I represent NL, and 10,000 members. United in its mission to contribute to unlocking human potential, using the best tools from all disciplines. East and West, virtual and analog. In order to improve our psychological, emotional and spiritual well-being. This not only means the absence of stress, but also the enhancing of positive emotions and touching upon the deeper layers such as meaning, depth, fulfilment and happiness.

Questions such as 'how can you use computer technology to draw attention inwards, help facilitate introspection and meditation instead of obsessively and compulsively focusing our attention on our computers and gadgets?

2. Transformative Technology 

'Building the future of human possibility'

The Consciousness Hacking movement is also closely associated with the Transformative Technology movement, also located in Silicon Valley, which strives to explore, design and use technologies that promote individual and collective awareness. This is where government, the business community and knowledge institutions meet.

3. Center for Humane Technology

'Realigning technology with humanity's best interest'

Co-founded by Tristan Harris, former Design Ethicist at Google and well known for his initiative Timewellspent. This has evolved into a centre where the main priority is that technology is human-centered. Where technology assists us and does not divide us. Where we foresee a future in which we have technology that does not impose itself on us but that makes us even more powerful. Where the digital world is a natural extension of the real world and a reflection of ourselves. A future in which Humane Technology is the norm and brings us humans in harmony with our lives. A future in which digital technology no longer limits or separates us, but helps us reach our full potential.

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To summarise, the development and expansion of consciousness as part of leadership and organisational development, training and education is the next big thing. Especially in ( higher and middle ) management there is an enormous growth potential waiting to be mobilised. A potential of raising and expanding consciousness and training various states of consciousness.

The means and methods are now widely available, welcome to the age of consciousness.

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