A Human Brain ®Evolution in a Machine Intelligent World - Part II

Inner Renaissance.
Outer Enlightenment.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock

Confucius said “Study the past, if you would divine the future”.  

When we look to the past with a sense of introspection and admiration, we can only find lost perspectives and interesting insights from which to build the future.

Two of the most positive periods in the history of human progress were the Renaissance and Enlightenment. What makes these two important periods so significant and inspirational is the vast amount and huge leaps of cultural and technological advancements made by the vision and mindset of their leaders and forerunners. They started by questioning their reality and then crafting a new one by looking at what mattered to human beings.  

The rise of Humanism and Rationalism became the very forces that stirred human progress and founded the moral, social and political establishments of our modern world today, which are under threat.

What can we learn from the past and how can we bring these movements back in the midst of worldly regression and machine intelligence?  

Spreading Goodness through Beauty and Wisdom

Coming out of the Black Plague, the Renaissance thinkers started to think less about the after-life and more about their life on Earth; and hence, went on a philosophical mission to making all “good things in the world attractive and desirable” in the middle of ugliness; selling beauty, truth and wisdom through the arts, humanities, architecture, urbanism and entrepreneurship, while achieving peace and stability in 15th century Italy.  

Today, we still witness the grandeur and living remnants of these times with works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Bellini, Titian and many more. The way they began was by reconnecting to the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations before them, then recreating a new way of living through the construct of Epicurean philosophy of Aristotle and Socrates in line with the faith and principles of Christianity.

In other words, the Renaissance thinkers cleverly spread morality and ethics by stimulating people’s basic desires and emotions to do good, something that machines still don’t have the upper hand in.

Investing in Latent Talent and Visionary Ideas

The Renaissance would not have flourished if it weren’t for the vision and sponsorship of the Florentine ruler and financier Lorenzo de Medici who knew not only how to find and use existing talent but also where to spend the money.

De Medici assigned artists, architects, poets and philosophers to help spread messages of happiness, truth and beauty with didacticism. Every artistic masterpiece was a reminder that life was short and beautiful if lived with love, kindness and compassion. Every square in prominent cities was designed to abide by specific standards and rules so that members of the public, even though of different standing, enjoyed the landscape equally and met their needs.   

According to the video below, de Medici’s fueled four decades of the Renaissance with a current equivalent of half a billion dollars. If Bill Gates alone has around 15 times that amount today, we only wonder what we can do to start setting the right vision and mission for humanity’s future if today’s leaders invested in it together.

Applying Knowledge with Courage, Reason and Sympathy

During the Enlightenment era of 18th century Europe, people challenged religious ideals, political representations and natural human rights. Brutal religious wars stirred a sense of moral responsibility “to reduce human suffering and enhance human flourishing”, and they did that through logic, reason and sympathy - the building blocks of today’s democratic societies.

Philosophers like Voltaire who advocated for the separation of the Church and State and scientists like Isaac Newton who proved that the universe operates through mathematical evaluations, set the tone of that period. This approach led to an important scientific revolution which began with people questioning, experimenting and explaining “why are things the way they are”. They discounted old methods and looked at the natural laws of the universe and human nature through a new lens, according to historian and YouTuber Paul Sargent.

Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular science author Steven Pinker explains these principles from the Enlightenment and how relevant they are today.

In the third part of this blog series, I cover why it is important for human beings to know and hack themselves really well in preparation for the future.