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The 21st century is the Age of Science and Technology. It is also the Age in which humanity faces a unique and
unprecedented challenge. This is the challenge of Artificial Intelligence (AI). If properly developed and aligned with
the values of humanity, AI will bring tremendous benefits to society. However, if AI is used inappropriately, it could
undermine human civilization and, ultimately, with the emergence of Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI), lead to the
extinction of humanity, in as little as 10 to 20 years. Scientists, philosophers and engineers call this latter possibility
the “alignment challenge” or "existential risk" of AI. The fate of our future lies literally in our hands.
In navigating the turbulent waters of extreme technology in the 21st century, two sources of hope are visible in the
The first one is found in the amazing discoveries of the many fields of mainstream science itself. This is the
emergence of a second and more spiritual scientific revolution also known as post-materialist science. The
paradigm-busting discoveries of these new sciences are undermining the materialist and transhumanist worldview
that inform the design and creation of AI, and ultimately, ASI. They also point to the illusory program of viewing and
thereby turning humans into biological machines that can be altered, cloned, patented, and mass-produced for the
economic and political benefit of a few. Further these new and more spiritual sciences are also giving us an expanded
and exciting vision of the nature of the universe and what it means to be truly human.
Societal Threefolding: Tri-Sector Partnerships for Social Transformation
The second hope can be found in the rapid and widespread emergence of societal change agents, whether they are
activists in the realm of culture and civil society, visionary legislators in the realm of polity and government, or
enlightened entrepreneurs in the realm of the economy and business. When these three sectors and actors come
together in a dynamic process that has been called societal threefolding, tri-sector partnerships, or other names,
innovative solutions to national and global problems emerge. (See Perlas, Shaping Globalization: Civil Society,
Cultural Power and Threefolding.) This convergence is the foundation of the current global alternative to state-0centered and often dysfunctional politics, towards creative, society-centered creative governance that can inspire
collective solutions to local or world problems, including the challenge of AI and ASI.
But there is an important prerequisite for these hopeful developments in order for them to truly address the biggest
challenge of our time. Most people know about Einstein’s oft-quoted advice that the solutions to problems cannot be
achieved using the same consciousness that created the problem or Audre Lorde’s “the master’s tools will never
dismantle the master's house.” A modern version of this is a statement that one can often hear in a number of
mainstream settings: “The results of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.”
Both perspective points to the importance of inner change in consciousness and behavior and the self-mastery
needed to effectively leverage the existing hopeful developments in order that the latter may truly provide a creative
solution to the challenge of AI and ASI.
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Course Instructor: Nicanor Perlas
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