The 21st century: What we must know about AI, consciousness and leadership

by Christian Kurmann

Computers have rendered the world’s financial system so complicated that few people can understand it.



The AI revolution – in both Biotech and Infotech – is underway at an incredibly high speed. Its purpose is ostensibly to afford us control of the world inside ourselves that shall then enable us to engineer and design our life better. This means that what we think, feel and eventually decide will be conditioned exponentially by AI in the near future. Nobody really knows what the consequences of this shift will be, though. But this does not seem to be of particular importance, as few even consider this awareness necessary. Shockingly few scientists today understand the principle of consciousness. The late Stephan Hawings once said: AI is likely to be either the best or the worst thing happen to humanity. But what we truly want is technology that can learn from experience. 

Perhaps we need to comprehend again, that people can`t be just toed together. They have to connect, - otherwise they will find themselves bound hand and foot.

We overrate people who tend to be creative and proficient in inventing things, regardless of whether or not they implement these creations wisely and meaningful. However no system like our genes, emotions, feelings, affections, sensitivities can be replaced: a mind-set that has not yet reached scientists, investors and capital ventures. At the end of the day we come to realisation that without movement there is no life. That is why we should use our energy to the fullest. This is significantly important because it is due to our dependency and cooperation that we bond.  

Something in today’s AI industry wants to de-code ourselves out of being cooperative. But if we feel secure, safe and living a life full of happiness, do we truly need more social improvement such as looking at social inequality, doubting the manipulation of business models and the unethical social behaviour, or questioning our immigration laws, or perhaps worrying about our current ecological state? Does it make us feel happier to be in such a unique situation to be concerned? Can we ever say for sure that we know the real difference? 

In my work, I observe more and more people running around in search of some unknown thing without knowing what they truly desire. People are inclined to brag about how perfect they are. I call it social discontentment, and itreflects in society and the sort of leadership we fall under these days. When CEOs present us their outrageous achievements year on year, letting us know how ‘great’ they and their management teams are (even though we all know that such performances are unlikely to be earned ethically or legally), a certain cynicism lingers. 

So in an ocean of bad bosses, blind governments and a society indoctrinated by pathological ambition, why should we question that such practices and methods not be idolised? Today we see – sadly, pretty much everywhere – CEOs and their senior management teams pick as their boards those who give them the salaries and bonuses they salivate after, instead of what they truly deserve. That’s one of the reasons why the CEO-payment and senior management-ratio has escalated sharply.

With so many people around the world experiencing this search for something year by year, could this really be the purpose of life: seeking more and further? Are we all striving to seek more than we already have because we can’t relinquish comparisons, because we are continuously striving for more, or aggressively competing, over-analysing to get further, relentlessly embarking with aggression to reach what we have determined should be important. 

Often I ask senior executives, What for? What next?

We are wallowing in a lack of gratification, this endless lust for entitlement, fame, prestige and power. The outcomes are rivalry, bitterness, greed and often helplessness to stay, somehow, any-which-way on top, to hold the position by any means. The more people continue along this path, the more we cultivate a sort of ‘consent’ highly protected by the elite worldwide. Only much later will people realise, and appreciate, why my relentless awareness and attentiveness to conscious clarity in our minds will pay out, especially when it comes to inclusive leadership.

The truth of the matter is there is zero loyalty towards stakeholders; it is much easier to manipulate a system that is fully intact rather than to predict the complexity and consequences of such an act. In the past, we have accumulated the power surrounding us by colonialism against the rest of the world – but we never really understood the complexity of diversity, virtues, values, rituals, traditions, language, or even the ecosystem, that alters the entire planet, bringing it to the brink of collapse. It seems people need to experience what an ecological collapse fees like before they will be motivated to act. But by then it will be far too late. So we keep blaming others and deviate from core ecological and humanitarian problems. We magnify Islamisation and immigration, allowing AI scientists without much difficulty to push forward until they reach our door step and become part of our day-to-day life. 

In the coming decades, Biotech and Infotech will provide us with the power to manipulate our deepest inner-self – that part everyone nowadays is running away from – that tiny place no one really wants to be confronted with – simply because we don’t understand the complexity of our minds. But if we calm our mind, our lives becomes much easier, much more at peace. This is a practice, though, that is still widely ignored at the workplace. It is not surprising then that AI changes may upset our entire mental and psychological inner system, and that one day soon we might break down completely. Today the decision makers, venture capitalists, scientists, entrepreneurs and financiers of these tools are scarcely aware of the global political consequences, as they are not representatives of the masses, only their own elite circle. So they drive up their personal profit margins, reputation and image. But sooner or later, most likely sooner, this will have severe consequences for humanity. 

Already a significant majority of people do not understand AI, including myself. We all may sense that the future is passing by more rapidly than ever before. That makes us all feel all the more excluded, more as outsiders, because how can AI/life be relevant to people who have no clue about consciousness, inner self-awareness or self-knowledge – things that are not tangible and therefore, apparently unimportant? But more and more people around the globe fear exclusion. People are becoming frantic, relying on nationalism or radicalism to be heard before it seems too late. But it is already far too late, because our elite press on as only they know best: excluding all those who don’t contribute to their personal growth and financial benefit.

More and more experience the instability of social exclusion, like in the UK where the Cabinet is completely incapable of leading the government, and by extension, the people, through BREXIT. Or when France was overwhelmed with Emmanuel Macron, the youngest ever elected president, to lead them out of misery, but who is now stuck because good old elite-circle recipes simply don’t work anymore, and so people forced his Cabinet to its knees in compliance. Or the Polish government, under the Populist law and Justice Party, a combination of subtle and brazen nationalist revisionism captures the two-and-a-half years to make it illegal to accuse the Polish state of complicity in the Holocaust, a country that enjoys tremendous financial aid from the EU and EFTA. 

Liberty is worthless if it isn’t coupled with some kind of social safety and security. But liberty also means responsibility; that is why most dread it. Why was it that most Africans preferred poverty in liberty rather than richness in slavery? Shouldn’t that make us all think? All big political and economic questions of the past had been settled, with the refurbished liberal package of democracy, human rights, social equality, free markets and government welfare services remaining the only game at stake. Such a concept seemed to spread around the entire world – overcoming all obstacles, easing all national borders and turning humankind into one free global community. 

But until today we have never entirely understood the problem of exclusion and where it comes from and why we keep protecting it against the ones who are in need. Isn’t this the sort of leadership we must question? If this is the sort of leadership our youngsters get taught at ivy leagues universities – leadership that produces social segregation, community violence and terrorist attacks – we have a long way to go. We know by now that social exclusion is closely linked to the new economic world order, globalised with free and open markets, which isn’t bringing prosperity or social justice to all. It is shocking that we have accepted a throw-away culture that is being globalised, where people themselves are considered “consumer goods” to be used and then discarded. Therefore, exclusion can never be the way forward on our shared path to freedom and social equality, nor can we cost-reduce ourselves to profitability.   

Surely liberalism offers no obvious answers to the biggest problems we face – ecological collapse and technological disruption – because it is generally only related to economic growth. And that is already the wrong starting point, because we put everything on one card alone, into one basket, expecting to solve difficult social and political problems and other conflicts. But economic growth will not save the global ecosystem, nor will it reduce global inequality, mass immigration, Islamisation or terrorism. Instead we have to learn the meaning of purposelessness, letting go of attachment in the sense that we should not ignore participation. We can have a rich and profound life and yet all the time be attached to the things we enjoy, just not making a necessity of those things. On one hand, most people seem to be anxious about pleasure, joy, amusement and bliss; on the other hand, people are so afraid that they may not ‘make it’, they grab it too hard. They seek to keep their job, position, title, reputation, image or prestige, destroying everything they have as they do so. And after so many attempts to ‘get it’, people succumb to feeling lost, disappointed, empty and helpless.  

So we keep repeating and repeating until we get that “thing”, because we never really got there in the first place. This is what is meant by attachment in an evil sense; but on the other hand pleasure in its fullness can never be experienced when one is pushing to grasp it. To have life, one must enjoy its pleasure while at the same time one must let it go. Today we override a particular moment or sensation as “success” or “happiness” and emphasise it with euphoria, joy and even madness. But in fact we separate ourselves using the knowledge we have, announcing to the world we are successful or happy. But all sensations last only a brief moment, keep only a short momentum which can’t carry on. Because the state of pleasure is limited, we want to extend it exponentially through AI, not realising that we create pain and loneliness instead because we suppress it. The demand for permanent success and happiness that is in every area of business, life and relationships, is at the same time the cause of human misery because there is no such thing aspermanence at all. But because we don’t want to accept this, scientists deceive and manipulate us – and this is possible with AI. This is the biggest illusion ever. 

Today’s capitalist free-market approach encourages people to muster grand expectations, as each succeeding generation has enjoyed a much better life and better education than the previous. So people naturally expect to be better and better all the time, to the point they forget that “noting is actually permanent” which is why it is quite acceptable to manipulate the system in society, health and ecology, feeding the system with euphoria and big (but brief) sensations. But how long will this last? 

We need to experience a significant global soul searching for a new social and political model. But this requires a totally new leadership and refreshingly new thinking concept, a clean break from the past to craft a new story related to leadership that goes beyond the core modern values of liberty and quality! 

Many people are still yearning for consensus because we are at the very beginning of change, driven by disillusion, anger and frustration – people have lost faith in the old stories before they have embraced a new one. So what next?  First there is panic – a feeling urging us to believe we know it all and where it should go to. The truth is we don’t know what is going on at all. However, we must feel of the prospect of vanishing all efforts, attempts, endeavours and achievements, turning all of a sudden into dust. Just nothingness. What would be the feeling? What we think may happen to us? Because this is what is going to come to all one day. People may find this depressing. But ironically, the most real is the moment of nothingnessNothingness is the fundamental reality. So we should comprehend the state of nothingness, because why should we let anything compel us to become worried, anxious, depressed, fearful and scared? The essence of our mind is intrinsically pure, with pure meaning clear. So it is over-attachment that leads us to helplessness and fear, believing that we need to solve life with external devices such as technology, so convinced that AI leads the path.

It is unlikely that technology will generate the momentum where we will be confronted with the hardest trials we have ever encountered. But if we keep acting without unaccountability, it is likely that we are heading in that direction. 

We know that humans have two abilities – emotional and cognitive. So the better we  start understanding the biochemical mechanics that underpin human emotions, desire and all the alternatives available to us, the better computers can become in analysing human drivers! Human intuition is, in reality, pattern recognition. Simply put, this means that AI can outperform humans even in tasks that supposedly demand intuition.  

More and more people embrace this notion, because their personal skills matter little. Algorithms follow the recommendation of whichever eminent phycologist we trust – once again leading to dependency and spiking our loneliness.  

True fulfilment depends less on objective conditions and more on our own expectations. Expectations, however, tend to adapt to condition and suppression, the key drivers of consumption. Shouldn’t that make us think? The first step is to acknowledge with blatant honesty that the social, economic and political models we have inherited from the past are insufficient and inadequate to comprehend today’s problems. We cannot wait for the crisis to erupt in full force before we actually look for answers. It will be too late. 

We must realise the significance of human needs and protect them, reducing global inequality. Taxing the 1% of each country is one thing, but cultivating a global mind-set to uplift the other 99% is another, so that basic needs and independency are maintained worldwide. But when we have people who are so financially desperate that they will suffer almost anything to put food on their table, those who are less scrupulous can then swoop in and take advantage. Today we call it corporate social reasonability, telling the world how good and meaningful we are, but at the core these entities squeeze their customers to the bitter end, because this is not conceived as breaking the law. Who are we as human beings if we ignore the plight of suffering of others? 

We need to flip a switch in our minds and acknowledge that taking care of people of lesser fortune is the most important and challenging task ever for all the privileged among us. We won’t survive morally or economically when only a few have so much, while so many have so little. Such a system is not sustainable; but even so, sadly, we protect it.  

There will be a time when nobody needs cheap unskilled labour anymore as most of these tasks will soon be performed by robots. Today most global nations complain that they don’t have the resources to build a good education system and teach people new skills, new abilities and uplift their talents. But there will be times when these nations will desperately wish they had done a better in the first place, because most of their citizens will be replaced by robots and other automatic systems. 

By now we all know that human well-being and happiness is based less on tangible things and more on people’s expectations, because expectations tend to adapt to conditions, including the condition of other people. When things improve in our life, we tend to want even more of this, even though we know it leaves us dissatisfied. The trouble is we keep relying on algorisms which make day-to-day decisions for us, but it is unlikely that these algorithms will ever start to consciously manipulate us, primarily because they will never have any consciousness. We have no reason to believe that AI will ever gain consciousness, as intelligence and consciousness are very different things: the ability to solve problems against the ability to feel things. Humans solve problems through comprehension and feelings. AI does it entirely through ways, processes and patterns that make ‘sense’.  Bill Gates said not long ago: We human should be worried about the threat posted by AI. Isn’t that a wake up call!  

The danger today is that we invest too much in AI and far too little in developing human consciousness. The sophisticated artificial intelligence of computers might only serve to empower the natural absurdity and ignorance of humans and the only reason we do that is because we don’t want to be confronted with dealing with the unknown – we are scared of ‘not knowing’. Sadly enough, we live in a world where it is quite common and acceptable to research the development of human abilities in accordance with satisfying immediate economic and political needs rather than fostering long-term humanity. 

Truly we have no idea what the full potential of human needs really are, of who we are. We hardly invest, explore or discover the intricacies of the human mind; instead we focus on increasing speed, or we elude or escape reality with new innovations which we don’t really need or understand. We should not judge choices people make for themselves, especially if people don’t understand the reasons behind their choices – in the depth of inner-self and spirit. I remember there was a time I truly admired people of high intelligence; today I admire those who possess kindness, responsiveness, regard and affinity. 

If we continue, we may end up down-grading the entire level of humanity. Throughout history, we have learned that the rich aristocrats imagined that they had superior skills to the rest of society (not surprising, as they were in control until today), but not because they were more talented or skilled. They simply guarded and controlled superiority, and unjust legal and economic discrimination. 

But by the end of this century, there is a likelihood that the rich might be more talented, and more creative thinkers may become fundamentally realistic, which widens the gap of social inequality, world-wide mass immigration, even much greater than the gap already is. This is something mankind will experience as a tragedy, because the large majority, the masses, will continue to depend on the (reluctant) goodwill of a small global elite. 

We may come together horizontally more than ever before, but we simultaneously create huge social chasms of humanity vertically. This is something few see coming, but as we increasingly undermine entire continents, they will become inconsequential, and it may be far too late to rescue humanity. Something the modern human race has given up foreseeing through attentiveness and consciousness. 

So, if the global masses want to prevent having a tiny elite dominate and control the rest of the planet, a severe mental transformation is needed. Such a self-transformation is not just about changing oneself, it means shifting oneself completely to a new dimension of experience and perception. More and more people around the globe must cultivate an enormous shift of collective consciousness through the world. This will be the grand beginning of a tremendous social transformation.  


Edvinas Grisinas