Do Technology and Mindfulness...Mix?
Walking into Wisdom 2.0—a conference where the Silicon Valley tech scene converges with a deeply spiritual mindfulness scene—is like entering an alternative reality. One minute, you might be trying on a BrainTap wearable headset to build your “brain fitness,” and the next, you’re sitting on a meditation cushion listening to a 77-year-old Buddhist monk.
It left me with a question: Do tech and mindfulness truly mix? Or does the ubiquity of our modern technology actually prevent mindfulness, prevent religious integration, prevent spiritual growth?
In the 13 years since Soren Gordhamer (Wisdom 2.0 founder) had a crazy idea to pull together these two disparate entities, the Fetzer Institute has been a major sponsor and supporter of this conference. It’s clear at this point that Wisdom 2.0 has played a major role in pulling together venture capitalists, tech designers, wisdom teachers, and some very smart thinkers to reimagine the tech sector through the lens of something more…well, more mindful. The broad swath of technology being developed to enhance inner well-being is one major demonstration of the effect of supporting this movement.
Tristan Harris (founder of the Center for Humane Technology and the former Google employee in the gripping Netflix documentary, the Social Dilemma) brought the house down in a harrowing presentation about just how quickly technology is developing—and how fast it’s already developed all while you and I ate breakfast this morning. He posits that the gap between the complexity of our technological advances and the human brain’s literal inability to keep pace with it can be narrowed only by wisdom.
Harris is one of the highest profile thinkers on minimizing Big Tech’s harm on humanity in areas such as artificial intelligence, Web 3.0, and social media’s reality distortions. And what is his major conclusion after years of whistleblowing, research, and total immersion in the belly of the beast of the tech industry? Wisdom.
And where does wisdom come from? How do we get it? How does it spread?
We turn to our most ancient religious and spiritual traditions to answer these questions. We turn to our lived life experiences. We turn to the highest triumphs and the lowest pits of despair in navigating interpersonal relationships. We turn to the sacred mystery of life itself. That is where wisdom comes from.
To be deeply human is to apply ancient wisdom to the challenges of today’s time. We must continue to cherish and hold onto our religious and spiritual traditions—the ones that have always helped humans do this—as we continue to march into a future that feels, frankly, more than a little strange.
Can technology and mindfulness mix in the service of building a spiritual foundation for a more loving world? Stranger things have certainly happened.
If you’re interested in this question, check out the free recorded sessions and let us know what you think. I would recommend these 25-minute treats (see below) or you can watch the whole conference with day one complete talks and day two complete talks.
Sara Critchfield is Vice President, Global Outreach at the Fetzer Institute
Wisdom 2.0 addresses the great challenge of our age: to not only live connected to one another through technology but to do so in ways that are beneficial to our own well-being, effective in our work, and useful to the world.
Through conferences, meet-ups, and workshops, Wisdom 2.0 strives to bring this conversation to the world in an accessible, innovative, and inclusive way.