Mindful Musings: What does horse poo have to do with a thriving future?

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.

AI robot mindfully thinking about the future

Recently I sat working in a local cafe and overheard two 80+  year old frail looking women, talking about A.I.


One lady with an eye patch and arm sling, sipped her tea and shared:

“It’s very worrying. It could be very dangerous if it gets into the hands of the wrong people”


The other one who was groomed and looked more youthful replied:

“We’re very lucky that we’re old – at least we won’t be around to see what happens.”


I giggled… Nervously.


I vacillate between fear and excitement, between worry for my kids growing up in this immense complexity but also deep excitement and gratitude to be alive and hopefully young enough to see how this tech revolution unfolds.


The women sitting in the cafe weren’t quite old enough to have lived through the “The Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894,” however, if they had, they may have had a different perspective about technology….


In the 1800’s, London and other major cities around the world were facing a horse poo crisis. New York had 100,000 horses transporting people and products around the city and that produced around 2.5 million pounds of manure a day! Not only had the big apple turned into the big crapple, but flies were aplenty spreading all kinds of disease. It became a public health crisis.


The Times newspaper announced, “In 50 years, every street in London will be buried under nine feet of manure.”


This became known as the ‘Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894’.


However, by 1912, as technology evolved, cars dominated the streets and by 1917 the last horsecar was retired. The horse poo crisis faded into history.


We are living in a moment in history where technology is evolving at an exponential rate.


The convergence of artificial intelligence, supercomputers, nano-technology, virtual reality, robotics and 3D printing have the potential to offer new solutions to the many urgent problems that seem unsolvable at this time.


As Schopenhauer wrote: “every man takes the limits of his own field of vision, for the limits of the world”


As I learn more, and expand my field of vision, I’m becoming more optimistic that the future will be bright.





"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.

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