Technology is becoming 10x more powerful every 5 years. It’s time that Ethics make an equally fast comeback

Written by Ms. Resha Patel


Welcome to the age of AI. From bots analyzing thousands of words in a few milliseconds to predicting our needs based on facial recognition – we’re at a cusp in humanity. The current fourth industrial revolution has made technology available like never before.

AI will increasingly change the way we imagine human life. And as its creators, we need to top that game.

Some of the many concerns that thought leaders of our times have are:

  • Will AI make our jobs redundant?
  • How do we embrace ourselves for the changes that the 4th industrial revolution brings on? Should growth be the central guiding principle?
  • How do we make it more humane?
  • What type of leadership do we need to deal with this novel situation?
  • What kind of education can cater to the needs of the ever-changing society?

Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, shares that in the age of AI – what will really save us all – is our qualities as a human being.

Creativity, collaboration, communication.

The World Economic Forum has listed some skills required to excel in the workforce from  2020.


Beyond binaries of 0s & 1s

“We carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness.”
-R.J. Palace, author of Wonder  

Life is all about choices. And unlike any computer program, the permutation and combination of our choices in the real world go far beyond the binaries of zeroes and ones. Let’s think of a moment in our lives when we made some choices based on a framework that we created.

Let’s keep aside our judgments of right or wrong. It’s about us figuring out our framework. Because if we can justify it to ourselves, and to our loved ones – we think its alright (though it might not be the case). A lot of people or groups become motivated to do the most heinous of crimes as they or their group justify it to be right by some measure or the other.


C,C,C & C

What is this code of conduct that all of us create for ourselves? Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s framework of 4C’s could help us in working towards our code.

1. Connectivity: It’s important to experience a circle of connection and belongingness to people, and enlarge that community as time goes by. Your community could include people at home, work, friends, neighbors to start with – and gradually increase to encompass people at large. To the degree we feel connected to people, we care for them and will not hurt them. We can’t imagine being unfair or manipulative to our best friend or being corrupt with a family member.

2. Commitment: When we’re committed to our relationships, family, work, or even a cause, we will be truthful and fair to them.   

3. A higher context in life: When we remember our role in life – at home, in society, and in the world, we will be aware about our responsibility – that of giving back to society and acting responsibly. This might prompt us to take actions like reducing plastic consumption to protect the environment or associating with a cause that’s bigger than ourselves.

4. Congratulate: Be truly happy when someone gets something that you worked for. Congratulate them, resolve to do better, and move on. Healthy competition is natural, as long as the game does not prompt us to be unethical.

And here’s another: congratulate yourself. Celebrate your milestones, enjoy your success, and appreciate the good things that you have brought to yourself. This will keep you going, and not allow frustration when the world is busy and forgets to give you a place in the sun.


‘Your soul is in your keeping’

Your senior at work would want you to do something which is unethical – would you embark on it? Your conscience tells you it’s wrong, but this is a command by your senior.

Both a soldier and a terrorist feel it is their dharma to fight a battle. But we know what is right. Both kill for their profession. But again, we know what is right. That is the ability of a human. And that’s a choice that we need to make again, and again. The best of us have something dark, while even the people who seem cruel, and harsh, bask in their light.

Sometimes, the line between ethical or unethical may seem blurred.  

In an iconic film, ‘Kingdom of Heaven,’ a leper king shares some advice with his young knight who sets out to make some change in the world. The words uttered by King Baldwin IV over their game of chess have resounded in many hearts:

“None of us know our end really, or what hand will guide us there. A king may move a man; a father may claim a son. That man can also move himself. And only then does that man truly begin his own game. Remember that howsoever you are played, or by whom, your soul is in your keeping alone. Even though those who presume to play you be kings or men of power. When you stand before God, you cannot say “but I was told by others to do thus” or that “virtue was not convenient at the time.”  


An invitation

How do we ensure that we can propel teamwork in an increasingly competitive environment? How do we become more human in the age of AI?

By starting now. They say it’s never too late to start something; it’s never too early either.  And we can start by becoming more aware and asking ourselves some questions:

  • Are we able to accept everyone, even those who are different from us?
  • Can we be helpful to someone  – even though we don’t see eye to eye?  

The chances are that if you find it difficult now, and don’t help yourself work through those difficulties – it could get more challenging in the future.  

So, this is an invitation to create your frameworks. You could call it your set of ethics, your book of life. Perhaps it will change with time – but remember you’ve already sprinted ahead since you gave yourself an early start.  How would you like to be treated? For sure, you will treat people accordingly, e.g., If you like to be spoken with respect, chances are you will speak respectfully to others. If you want to develop loyal friendships, you will place trust at a premium.

The more you learn to practice some of these qualities, the stronger they will become in your character and personality. And these will translate into actions with more significant impact in the future. Perhaps you will insist on conducting all the safety tests especially when your company wants to launch something in a hurry. Because you value your customer’s trust. Or you will facilitate teamwork since you value collaborations and relationships.

Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings and propel us, on occasion, to greatness. How can we practice these ethics more and more in our everyday life?

So while we watch the phenomenon of AI unfolding before our eyes – developing and changing the history of our time, we can ask ourselves: are we going to make super efficient machines or bring more humaneness to the forefront? Are we cyborgs who function in the framework of binaries or are we humans who share a progressive value system? Either way, we’re not dinosaurs – yet.  



Some points have been taken from Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s wisdom talks.

First published on The Art of Living website.