UPDATED 20:55 EDT / JUNE 26 2019

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Q&A: Deepak Chopra on AI, genetic editing and mindfulness in the digital era

Should buddhas own smartphones and gurus use Google? Mindfulness is often taken to mean stepping out of the technological mainstream. But rejecting technology is rejecting the natural course of human evolution, according to personal transformation pioneer Deepak Chopra.

“Personally, I am a big fan of technology,” Chopra (pictured) said during an interview with Lisa Martin, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio. “If you don’t relate to technology, you will become irrelevant. That’s a Darwinian principle. Either you adapt and use it or you’re not relevant anymore.”

Chopra and Martin spoke during the Coupa Inspire event in Las Vegas, at which Chopra was a keynote speaker. They discussed the interaction between technology and consciousness. This interview was condensed for clarity; the full one with transcript is here. (* Disclosure below.)

Q: Technology today is an essential component of our lives but also something that is bombarding us constantly. As an expert in the human brain and consciousness, what are some of your observations where we can balance technology to help us be more mindful?

A: First of all, you have to realize that technology is our creation. So, when you say we’re constantly bombarded by it, that implies a certain element of victimization by our own creation. We don’t need to do that.

Technology is neutral. You can hack with it. You can mess up an election with it. You can cause destruction with it. Or you can use technology to heal yourself and ultimately heal the ecosystem and the world.

Q: What are some ways we can stay centered while using technology?

A: Whenever you’re doing something, you do it with full awareness. Whether it’s technology or speaking to another person. The most important activity in your life is what you’re doing right now. The most important person in your life is the one in front of you right now. The most important thing to do with technology is to be fully engaged only when you’re doing it.

Q: How do we take advantage of technology but also sit back, relax, and enjoy the now?

A: Be aware of yourself, and be aware of the fact that everything that’s happening to you in the world is reflection of yourself. So, if you find the world insane, then question your sanity. If you find the world melodramatic and hysterical, question your aspect of melodrama and hysteria. If you find the world centered, it’s because you are centered. And so, the most important thing is self-awareness.

Q: You have a podcast on artificial intelligence. How are you leveraging AI to share your daily reflections, reach a bigger audience, and help us become more aware?

A: Artificial intelligence can, if you want, help me know everything about you. Everything! How your mind works, how your emotions work, how your body works — and the relationship with that.

What most of your audience may not know is that only 5% of genetic mutations that give rise to disease are fully penetrant, which means they guarantee the disease. Ninety-five percent of illness, even with the genetic mutations that predispose you to illness, are not predictable. They’re dependent on your lifestyle. Now, in the past you couldn’t measure that. Today you can. So, with that, we have an amazing new frontier in medicine.

Q: Technology brings so many advantages, yet at the same time it’s creating a lot of challenges. How do we overcome them?

A: This conversation is going to help solve those challenges, because the more we have this conversation in social media, in education facilities, even an entertainment, we’re writing a new story together.

We have to accelerate collective consciousness in the direction of a more peaceful, just, sustainable, healthier and joyful world. We have to eliminate war. We have to eliminate eco-destruction. We have to eliminate to climate change. We have the technology to do it. But now we need to harness the collective intelligence, the collective creativity, and the collective impulse for love and compassion through technology and we’ll do it!

Data by itself, science by itself, facts by itself don’t change the world. But when facts are tied to an emotional story, everything changes.

Q: You have said that you see AI and consciousness as able to merge together and continue to evolve. Do you think they are able to live symbiotically?

A: I do. But we have to be careful. AI will never have subjective consciousness. It may replicate insight and intuition and creativity and even vision, but it won’t be able to fall in love.

Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the Coupa Inspire event. (* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for Coupa Inspire. Neither Coupa Software Inc., the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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