Sramana Mitra: There’s one article called “Innovation’s Next Decade” which you will find interesting. That article will probably address the kind of things that you’re talking about.
Yaacov Cohen: I believe also in the convergence of ethics and technology. Spirituality and technology needs to be better converged. Technology won’t free humanity.
Sramana Mitra: That is not technology’s problem; that is humanity’s problem. Human beings have very little control over themselves. They tend not to be able to disengage from technology. They’re constantly doing absolute rubbish on their devices on a 24-hour basis. They don’t know how to create space. They don’t know how to get away from technology and actually think. You can’t think if you’re constantly on your device.
Yaacov Cohen: Yes, but the whole experience has been designed to addict you to your device.
Sramana Mitra: No matter how much you design, you’re not going to get me to sit on the device for 24 hours because I just don’t play that game.
Yaacov Cohen: I agree. It’s hard to not to fall into addiction. Facebook is making you click on more ads. They are not just enabling you to communicate; they’re actually producing ads and they are changing the flow of information based on what they want you to do. The whole industry is going into forecasting and becoming smarter and smarter to drive your behavior online. Basically, the whole industry is focused on robotizing you. We need to say no. The consumer has no voice. Today, people who have the most influence are technology vendors. Steve Jobs has more influence than Barack Obama in our lives – thousand times more than Barack Obama.
Sramana Mitra: That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t think politician’s influence is very useful.
Yaacov Cohen: Philosophers and wise people don’t have any influence today. Who is the next Martin Luther King? The next Martin Luther King is Steve Jobs in terms of influence on society. I think that technology vendors have a huge responsibility.
Sramana Mitra: If you look at what we are doing at One Million by One Million, that is not antagonal to philosophy. There’s a deep philosophical premise built into that. If you look at my writings on Capitalism 2.0, that’s a deep rethinking of philosophy.
Yaacov Cohen: But that’s a fresh perspective. It’s not mainstream.
Sramana Mitra: Part of the problem that we have right now is that technology has given us tremendous productivity and it has freed up a lot of time for people. However, the time that has been freed up through increased productivity is not used to do higher-order thinking. Instead, they’re applying that time on doing addictive technology-related activities. The problem is on how people are interfacing with technology. It’s not the problem of technology. It is the problem of people and how they respond to technology.
Yaacov Cohen: Yes, I agree. That’s a part of the problem.
Sramana Mitra: You’re right because there is no place for philosophy in today’s society. Education systems don’t really deal with philosophy. People don’t really study philosophy. Philosophy has little role in today’s society.
Yaacov Cohen: I agree. Philosophy and spirituality are definitely missing.
Sramana Mitra: Excellent. It was a pleasure talking with you. Thank you.