“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.61)
It’s the inevitable future. Don’t get settled into the ways of the present. Change is the one constant. Take the situation of the world a mere twenty years ago. No smartphones. No widespread reliance on the internet. No websites “blowing up” to report fake outrage over something that doesn’t matter in the least.
They say that in a few years robots will be taking over. So many jobs will become obsolete. Artificial intelligence will figure out how to take care of so many things we rely on humans for at present. The key will be how to program the automation. Intelligence used to replace intelligent beings.
Whatever actually ends up unfolding, we know for certain that machines are deficient in specific areas. That is to say no matter how much advancement is made, there is no true replacement for human contact.
1. Detect randomness
Artificial intelligence tries its best in this area. That is why it takes the world’s topmost expert at chess to beat a computer. The machine can make thousands of complex calculations, studying past history and probability, in a split second. The human being has to deliberate.
Still, the issue of randomness remains. When a new event occurs that breaks the previously held patterns, the machine has to be reconfigured. Sometimes it is simply not possible to predict what will happen. All signs can point in a certain direction, but then the unexpected occurs. This is due to randomness, which is seen even in the animal community.
2. Soothe a crying baby
Sure, there is the electronic swing set. It moves the baby back and forth, which they prefer when feeling upset. There is the drying machine, which provides a soothing sound. One surefire method is placing the child in a car seat and going for a drive. Adult passengers are known to fall asleep in this way, and with the infant it is even easier.
Nevertheless, there is no replacement for picking up the baby and holding it. There is something to the contact. One living thing close to another. No machine can ever take the mother’s place. Nor will there ever be. Sometimes merely shifting from the arms of one parent to another does the trick. The baby stops crying and stays asleep. As soon as it is set back down on the bed, to sleep on its own, it wakes up.
3. Achieve Krishna consciousness
That is the goal of the auspicious human birth. The name Krishna may sound sectarian or restrictive, but it is actually all-inclusive. It is simply a name for God that means “all-attractive.” Only the Supreme Lord can have this feature, as there are defects to everything else. Every person we see is flawed to some degree due to their contact with material nature.
Machines can certainly help in the process. They are used to print books describing the science of self-realization. They can store recorded conversations, lectures and songs glorifying the Almighty. Machines provide light at night to continue in the purification process, should a person be occupied throughout the day earning a living.
Still, the machine can make no guarantees. It is consciousness, after all, which is the determining factor. That consciousness is shaped by thoughts, words and deeds, over which the machine has no responsibility. In the past, some great saints achieved perfection by living in a cave, worshiping a tulasi plant, and regularly chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
That high level of renunciation cannot be replicated by everyone, but the example is illustrative. Bhakti-yoga is ahaituki and apratihata. No motivation and no interruption. Devotional service is not dependent on material conditions. The spirit soul is itself seated as if on a machine, and so the machine is not the determining factor. The soul is who drives the car, and that soul has every opportunity to reach the proper destination, irrespective of external conditions.
Over everything machines to take,
Car to drive, dinner to make.
But in some areas never to replace,
Like baby’s crying and discomfort to erase.
Or randomness in behavior detecting,
Or choice for bhakti-yoga selecting.
In the end consciousness the key,
Soul through body-machine to free.
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