Book Review: “Beyond Knowledge: How Technology Is Driving An Age of Consciousness

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A Highly Original Exploration of the Next Stage in Human Evolution

Book Review

By: Hazel Henderson

I enjoyed this book immensely.  As a colleague of Professor Halal some years ago on a tech forecasting project within the World Future Society, I was happy to re-connect and with this invitation to write this Foreword.

“BEYOND KNOWLEDGE: Technology to Create an Age of Consciousness “is a highly original exploration of the next stage of human evolution, as planet Earth is now teaching us directly.  As I have also stressed, the planet is now our programmed learning environment, mirroring back to humans the global problems we have caused due to our limited perception. This feedback from planet Earth is forcing us to mature, as Halal describes in such innovative and useful detail.  We are looking at ourselves and learning to assess in new ways our limited cognition, our emotions and our continual conscious and sub-conscious processing of the realities of our condition.  The growing calamities of floods, fires, superstorms, biodiversity losses, species extinctions and more frequently zoonotic viruses and the COVID-19 Pandemic are Nature’s current lessons and feedbacks to assist our cognitive and spiritual development.

As Halal points out, if we cannot evolve to overcome our cognitive and emotional infancy and mature into full, wise adulthood, we will not survive. I agree and believe that many other species will take over the constantly evolving life processes of planet Earth.   I was forced to confront the “Global MegaCrisis“ which Halal and our mutual friend and colleague, futurist Michael Marien have described so succinctly.

In the 1960s, I organized Citizens for Clean Air to inform New Yorkers of the polluted air they were breathing. We ran a free ad campaign with the help of a volunteer ad agency and some enlightened media executives.   We showed the late Robert F. Kennedy who was running for his Senate seat, all the sources of this pollution and why we were campaigning to correct the GDP, so as to subtract, not add these pollution costs.  Kennedy’s speech on these problems of GDP at the University of Kansas, became a rallying cry for reform of this obsolete indicator, still too often quoted as a measure of national “progress“!   In 1975, I joined Lester Brown on the founding board of the WorldWatch Institute, and again, I was forced to face up to this Global MegaCrisis at every board meeting, as the human effects on planetary ecosystems deteriorated.

So William Halal’s deep dive into how humans have evolved over millennia and created our technological tools is enlightening and demonstrates high ethical principles for examining the ways we must change and mature into deeper consciousness.  Halal shows how our new information tools are reflecting back our need to examine our own consciousness and how we must evolve beyond acquiring scientific knowledge toward also studying our belief systems, our religions and spiritual motivations.

This indeed, is the next page of the human agenda open before us.  This task far outweighs the mad dash of trivial innovations geared to short-term profits so typical of Silicon Valley’s adolescent culture.  Halal instead offers his own innovative approach: seeing and assessing our technologies as our latest “tools of consciousness”!  This goes far beyond the remit of such government research agencies as the US Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) which was shut down in 1996, slaying the messenger informing us of our planetary depredations.  I served on OTA’s Technology Assessment Advisory Council, and I am heartened that the US Congress has an effort by over forty members to fund OTA, and the Biden Administration seems equally committed.

Meanwhile, I have taken Halal’s new tool to heart.  This “tool of consciousness” approach has helped me see myself, my daily work, my virtual electronic presentations more clearly, as well as my moods, attitudes, physical fitness and my preparations for my company’s succession and my own coming experience of leaving this incarnation and going virtual.

In all the chapters of “BEYOND KNOWLEDGE”, Halal uses this guiding spiritual, consciousness framework, to explore how we humans are progressing along the path to the kind of wisdom and maturity necessary to manage our further evolution in the Age of the Anthropocene.

Halal’s chapters on “Uniting Spirit & Science”; “A New Social Contract“;  “Democratic Enterprise“; “Virtual Education“;  and “From Religion to  Spirit to Global Ethics“ provide deeper grounding in our current situation.  They are consistent with the 16 Principles of The Earth Charter, developed since its launch at the Earth Summit in 1992, and ratified by thousands of NGOs, academics, government officials, cities, investors and business leaders.  I attended its launch in 2000 at the Peace Palace in The Hague and still remain an advocate of this universal declaration of human responsibilities to complement Eleanor Roosevelt’s effort in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.  No rights without responsibilities, as we are learning!

This book is a wise contribution to the great global debate on the Global MegaCrisis.  It is also a feast, and provides an enduring roadmap to guide the human family toward a sane, viable sustainable future.  We are living through stressful times, yet stress is evolution’s tool forcing species to adapt.  Breakdowns drive breakthroughs!

For more see www.BeyondKnowledge.org

 

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Hazel Henderson is a global futurist and her eleven books and current research continue to map the worldwide transition from the fossil-fueled Industrial Era to the renewable circular economies emerging in a knowledge-rich, cleaner, greener and wiser future. Ethical Markets Media Certified B. Corporation, which Hazel founded in 2004 after 20 years advising the Calvert Group of socially-responsible mutual funds, continues the work of reforming markets and metrics to guide investors toward our long-term survival on planet Earth. In the 1960s, with the help of a volunteer ad agency and enlightened media executives, Hazel organized Citizens for Clean Air to inform New Yorkers of the polluted air they were breathing. They showed the late Robert F. Kennedy, then running for his Senate seat, all the sources of this pollution and why they were campaigning to correct the GDP to subtract, not add, these pollution costs.  Kennedy’s speech on the GDP problem at the University of Kansas became a rallying cry for reform of this obsolete indicator, still too often quoted as a measure of national “progress“!  In 1975, Hazel joined Lester Brown on the founding board of the World Watch Institute, and again, she was forced to face up to this Global MegaCrisis at every board meeting, as the human effects on planetary ecosystems deteriorated. For more, see Hazel’s recent presentation at the Family Office Forum in Singapore, March 5th.  Hazel can be reached at [email protected]