Mindful Musings: A.I. – should we be scared?

In the Mindful Musings series, Dr. Elise Bialylew poses thought-provoking and introspective questions about the realm of Artificial Intelligence. Prepare to embark on a journey of deep contemplation.


Since the beginning of time humans have been wary of technological innovation. When cars were replacing horse drawn carriages, critics of the new technology were concerned that it was dangerous for the human body to move at a 70km/hr. In fact, some believed that women’s uteruses would fall out of their bodies!


In the 1850s when the elevator was invented, people were terrified and refused to go inside of them! 


In 1900 the “driverless elevator” was released. However people were reluctant to step into an autonomous elevator. 


In 1945 in NYC, elevator operators went on strike and millions of people couldn’t work in highrise offices as they feared entering an elevator unassisted. It was at this time that a massive ad campaign was launched to convince people it was safe to do so. Emergency stop buttons were added and a calm recorded voice instructed people to press the floor they required. So it took about 50 years before people comfortably adapted to using an elevator. 


Humans have been sceptical of new technologies for a long time. 


What is your attitude to technology? 


Do you leap forward and get excited by the new possibilities it brings or do you tend to bury your head in the sand and hope it will go away? 


Technology is developing at an exponential, not linear rate. This means things are going to change extremely fast. Faster than our minds can digest.


Ray Kurzweil, one of the world’s most renowned futurists, has made some pretty bold predictions about the future. He predicts that in the  2030’s we’ll be seeing brains linked to computers and by 2045 we will reach what he calls the “Singularity”. This is the time when machine intelligence will be infinitely more powerful than all human intelligence combined. It’s the point at which machine intelligence and humans will merge. 


I’ve had to make a conscious effort of late to step into an optimistic mindset about A.I and the future, as the more I’ve researched the more unsettled I’ve become. 


Recently, a friend of mine who works for a tech company returned from San Francisco, and shared that she’d had her first driverless car experience. The car picked her up from her office and drove her through the busy day time traffic.


“Were you scared?” I asked. 


“Surprisingly not,” she replied. 


So many technologies now exist that make the unimaginable, possible. As these new technologies converge, the world will change at an unprecedented rate. 


There is CRISPR gene editing. A relatively new and now inexpensive technology that can literally cut out genes that lead to some diseases. Scientists have successfully leveraged CRISPR in human cells to eradicate the mutations that cause sickle cell disease, beta-thalassemia, blindness, and countless other genetic disorders. This technology may lead to editing of embryos creating what’s been referred to as “designer babies”, children with hand picked qualities. It’s pretty confronting to think about. 


There is Neuralink. Elon Musk’s company, working towards implanting hairlike wires into the brain to connect it directly with a computer. Just recently the company received approval to begin its first trials on human brains. Their vision is to help paraplegics walk again, but that’s only the beginning. According to the experts, mental telepathy is not so far away (no joke). 


I’ve been thinking a lot about my two daughters. 


In what ways will the world be unrecognisable in 10 years time? 


What do they need to learn in order to be resourced for this increasingly complex and uncertain world? 


Is there a way I can be more engaged to help move the education system forward so that it can progress and remain a valuable and worthwhile place for our children? 


These are some of the things I’m thinking about..


I discovered this beautiful question recently and wanted to offer it up to you…


What in the world’s unfolding story, most ignites your passion or grief at this time?




"If we wish to be healthy, happy and clear-minded, we need to upgrade our “inner technology”of attention to meet the demands of our increasingly complex world. That's where mindfulness comes in.."




Elise Bialylew is the author of the bestselling book, The Happiness Plan, and founder of Mindful in May, the world’s largest online global mindfulness fundraising campaign.

A doctor trained in psychiatry, turned social entrepreneur and mindfulness expert, she’s passionate about supporting individuals and organisations to develop inner tools for greater wellbeing and flourishing, and offers workshops and training at The Mind Life Project.

Her work has been featured in the Huffington Post, New York Times and on Australian Television. She was recently recognised by the Australian Financial Review as a 2019 AFR Women of Influence.

Keep in touch with us

Sign up to access additional resources, mindfulness tips and to find out about upcoming events.

When you submit your email you are opting-in for our emails and relevant upcoming updates from Elise. You can unsubscribe any time.