AMY WEBB — THE BIG NINE — 2019
The author has spent long periods of time in China and Japan. She thus knows what she is speaking about, and yet she is direct testimony of what they start considering in the USA in various fields, first police work, second the Silicon Valley, that is to say, unconscious bias. In her case she would swear to god or gods that it is true, that it is factual, that it is undeniable that China is first an absolute dictatorship, even when she only says a totalitarian state, definitely undemocratic, unliberal, you name it you have it. Second China is developing a project that only targets the total domination and control of the whole world. Hence China is the enemy for the supposedly democratic USA and by extension the supposedly free world.
That’s only an opening remark that unluckily points at a shortcoming that is so common among American intellectuals, CEOs of any sort or kind. It may be seen as catching in some areas in Western Europe, but certainly not in Europe as a whole and not even in the Brexiting United Kingdom for which China might be the price to pay in order not to sink in a post- or even pre-Brexit recession.
And that leads me to a second remark that is just as fundamental and yet is only a side remark as for the main subject of the book. Europe is plainly absent 100% from this book that deals with Artificial Intelligence in the age of 5G communication. I am afraid this too is an unconscious bias from an American intellectual: she does not know about Europe, she does not consider Europe and in Europe we should not forget Belarus and Russia, even by the way Ukraine, the three countries that diagnosed the cyber-attack against the nuclear centrifuges of Iran under Barack Obama and from a joint Israeli and US cyberwar initiative. They diagnosed it and they blocked it. At the same time this refusal to consider Europe would be embarrassing because Russia has hacking technology far superior to anything the USA or western Europe may think of, to the point that the two missiles attacks of the USA against Syria on the pretext of some unclear chemical attacks were thwarted more than fifty percent by Russia hacking the missiles themselves after launching and dispatching them away from their target. The first time that was a big surprise for the US armed forces. The second time they could verify they did not have the proper answer. They later spoke of a third attack, maybe, but it never materialized for the simple reason: they cannot control their missiles as soon as they are launched.
Now the book is about a crucial subject for our present times: artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G communication. The book is based on a systematic dystopic vision based on essentially a twisted vision of China that is acknowledged as being far ahead in this field as compared to the USA (no mention of Europe and the possible alliance with Russia, Belarus and some western European countries) but described as having the desire to introduce systematic surveillance of every single citizen — or is it resident I should say, since in her vision there are no free elections and thus no democracy in China, therefore no citizens — who will be face-recognized at any time and maybe even of course at home with all sorts of AI connected objects like fridges, TVs, computers, alarm clocks, and probably toothbrushes and toilet flushes. When you push that rewriting of 1984 and Big Brother to toothbrushes and toilet flushes you actually see the paranoid hysteria behind this vision. And the second motivation of the Chinese Communist Party is to colonize — purely and simply colonize — the whole world via commercial ventures like the Belt and Road Initiative. What is surprising is that she does not integrate in 2019 the company Huawei which is the Chinese most-advanced-in-the-world 5G-communication company, and what’s more state-owned or at least state-controlled. Huawei is at least the fourth company she could consider on the Chinese side and her BAT would become a BATH, in other words, the Chinese policy of developing AI in all possible fields (unescapably dictated, by the way, for industry and employment by the retiring of numerous unskilled workers and their replacing by young highly-skilled workers in a 3 to 1 proportion at least. The Chinese have better develop AI applications not to fall into a labor recession) this policy would thus become in this anti-Chinese perspective a real blood BATH. The author never takes this fact into account.
Now, what are the subject and main argument of the book?
If we consider the foreseeable future development of AI within 5G-communication with all sorts of connected objects with the Internet-of-Things, the world is going to fall under the total control of nine companies. In the USA (which from experience includes Europe but since the European specific characteristics are not taken into account, the US-centered discourse is totally unrealistic) six companies are taken into account. She calls them G-MAFIA meaning Google as the main one, hence the dash, then Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, IBM, and Amazon. On the Chinese side, only three companies qualify for this 2019 book, which is slightly outdated, as what she calls BAT: Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent. I just said it was short. She should have added Huawei and of course Lenovo, and that’s probably not all because the Chinese are not tinkering with research in this field with start-ups and other individual enterprises, but they are implementing directly in productive fields like train technology, plane technology, electric car technology, and of course other fields in which the USA and the West are still infants like agriculture, water management, and environment, pollution, climate change and some more not to speak of maritime technology and security with satellite and AI implementations on the giant container ships and tankers of today in the three international alliances in this field that bans all flags of convenience and in which the USA is absolutely absent (both shipping companies, container ships and tankers, and the third element that harbor technology is). It is this absence of real fields and domains of economic development using AI that is amazing. Today with satellites we can follow all ships, control all their operations in the various harbors, and guarantee maritime transportation against all sorts of trafficking, high jacking and piracy, and of course speculation and corruption.
She sees very well that China has two advantages: 1- it is technically far ahead of the west, and 2- it is managing this field of technological development with planification over the next ten to twenty years, and maybe beyond. And the third advantage is the fact that it is all under the control of a stable government. She can consider this government is undemocratic, non-elected, or whatever. Its stability and its constant renewal are guarantees that there will not be some brutal change of direction. If the objectives changed it would be under the management from scientists and thus progressive and objective. In spite of what she says there is a lot of transparency in this Chinese society and in fact we know what the Chinese are doing better than what Facebook or Google are doing, precisely because of the planification and the various plans and reports are available for everyone to download them.
She sees very well the disadvantages of the US that could be considered as the representative of the West, though that would be a mistake.
The Federal government of the USA has no planification for this or any other development in the industrial, social or technological, let alone cultural fields. They are dominated by a government that changes every four years and that is entirely dominated by the obligation of new elections every four years with mid-term elections that reduce the planification — if we can call that planification — to two years. If there is some follow-up control it comes from agencies that are managed on a day to day basis by bureaucrats and these agencies are ABSOLUTELY NOT TRANSPARENT AT ALL. She perfectly sees that this technological development is in the sole hands of six companies, of the Silicon Valley, of individuals who are ABSOLUTELY NOT TRANSPARENT for the wide public and who are only RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT THEY DO ONLY TO THE STAKEHOLDERS AND STOCKHOLDERS OF THE COMPANIES which guarantees first, private interests are absolute; second, transparency is totally impossible; and third, greed is the main motivation (to make as much money as fast as possible). There is no way out though Europe is little by little imposing first, regulations; second, sanctions and fines if the companies do not respect these regulations, and third, you have to keep in mind that for Europe China is an alternative in all fields and that the European Union is not trying to keep China out, but is trying to keep the Chinese influence under some kind of control. But if US computers (made in China by the way) are too expensive for the public, so the market will bring Chinese computers that are technically good or even better and that are a lot cheaper, if they want, and if not cheaper at least with such profit margins that Chinese is getting fat on such commerce). At the present moment in Europe iPad and iPhones are becoming a niche and will never reach the wide public available on the market.
The three scenarios for the future she proposes, are all absurd because they do not take Europe into consideration and because they are all of them biased as for China, the Chinese Communist Party, the Belt and Road Initiative, etc. And she probably does not realize that her future plan is based on the idea that there is no “democratic” future that does not come from the USA and from the G-MAFIA US companies. I do not trust Google and the others to accept to be ethical, honest, transparent, and morally, ethically, socially, culturally sustainable. Are politicians better? Probably not but at least they are not eternal, and they can be removed from office. Who can remove Zuckerberg from Facebook? The people? Let me laugh. The market? Even, worse as long as he is making mountains of profit. She considers Facebook will disappear soon, killed by the market, both the loss of millions of customers and competition from better social networks, not to mention the loss of advertisers who do not want to become the financiers of some political dark underground and uncheckable project à la Steve Bannon.
The future can only come from the constant, stable and long-lasting cooperation among three bodies of people: first, the political authorities of all countries in the world. Second, the scientific and technological actors in this field of AI and its applications, not the financial CEOs but the real scientific and technological CEOs. And third, representatives of the mass of people who are users and customers. That third body cannot be reduced to the behavior of customers on the market. It has to be a body that can orient the research in these fields towards what would be most beneficial to most people. Actually, I would say the Chinese system is a lot more effective at that level. Even if we don’t know about it.
There would be a lot more to say on this book, but the flaws are essentially what I have said and her plan for the future is to force the Chinese Communist Party to accept her vision, even by using the BAT Chinese companies against their government, which is absurd, plainly absurd. There cannot be any future if Europe is not integrated into this project and Canada is not a neutral place, or not more neutral than Luxemburg as for the European Community. We could of course also consider Lichtenstein or Andorra, why not Monaco. And there should be some kind of international regulating authority, but the future policy cannot be reduced, as it is page 240–242 to fifteen rules that have to be absolute, that are declared universal, like it or not, and that are expressed in a way or another as MUSTs and MUSTN’Ts, that is to say obligations and interdictions, but where is freedom in all that, where are HUMAN RIGHTS in all that when Western Human Rights become HUMAN OBLIGATIONS outside the West and even in the West for minorities like Muslims, Blacks or whatever minorities the West loves segregating against cyclically: Jews, Blacks, Muslims, Asians, and so many others, even LGBTQ people.
Diversity is the answer and I must say the West is not the best example of such diversity in many fields, even by the way the simple sexual diversity of women and men, not to speak of OTHER sexual identities. It is becoming common today in Europe to propose three answers to the question “Sex” or “Gender” if you prefer: MALE, FEMALE, OTHER/NON-SPECIFIED/PREFER-NOT-TO-SPECIFY. I am afraid we are still far from being able to consider such a procedure as universal in the world and it will take a lot of intelligence, human intelligence, and much internet-of-things to bring such a simple procedure to some kind of universality. Amy Webb alas, considers that a decree from the top, meaning the USA and at best the West can bring such values and procedures to any sustainable universality. I sure do not trust Google or Facebook to bring that up to any real existence. They might be dreaming of universality, but they certainly don’t consider sustainability as their target since their target is to make money, and more money and a lot more money. They might dream of themselves as universal and durable, but not sustainable, except in a perverse mismatch of the word sustainability and the meaning of greed.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
KAI-FU LEE — AI SUPERPOWERS, CHINA, SILICON VALLEY, AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER — 2018
This book is essential because the author was trained in AI in the USA, but he made his career in China, for Google at first and then as a Venture Capital Investor. He knows what he is speaking of from direct experience and not from rumors often manipulated and distorted by political, national and ideological bias. The author studies the dynamic and the logic of Artificial Intelligence in industry, services and everyday life. I am more or less going to follow his own approach and approach his ideas with critical respect.
The road leading to Artificial Intelligence is well-known and the author summarizes it clearly. For him, at the present moment, we have invented and developed all we need for the emergence of AI. We have reached today a machine-learning driven economy and the basic invention was deep-learning that is also known as narrow AI because every version of it is only concerned by one specific domain and with one specific outcome. This phase of discovery and development was following a simple road from discovery to implementation, and then from expertise to data. At the present moment, three elements are needed to develop AI. First, big data, and by big, I mean big. Second, computing power. Third, strong AI algorithm engineers. That’s at least the US model since the US refuses to have any administrative, hence political, control over this field only understood as being industrial, hence capitalistic in the US meaning, that is to say, to be regulated only by the market. And that’s where there is a problem when considering China. In the US, it is all under the control of what some call the G-MAFIA (Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, IBM, Amazon).
China is both the same and radically different. The same because it is dominated in the field by some big companies known in the West as BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent), and that is the first absurdity in the western approach of China. You have at least to add two more companies: Lenovo and Huawei, but it does not build a funny acronym. And in fact, there are some other companies that are not well known publicly but that work in the shade of the wings, at times even deep shadowy wings. But Lee insists on another element we in the west forget to really take into account for what it is.
In China, four elements are brought together to determine a national policy and a developing program in the field of AI. First, abundant data and China is far above anyone in the west because they work in China with several hundred million people connected to their Internet, because they start working in the whole of Asia, and they are launching their work in Africa. What’s more, they are the leading power in facial recognition which gives them a power we cannot even imagine in the west. They have reached the level of SUPER-BIG-DATA. Second, hungry entrepreneurs. In China these new entrepreneurs in startups or climbing up in the big companies or even the state services concerned, have been trained in digital nurseries or incubators to bring any innovation possible, the clear outcome being to bring in a profit, and they are absolutely dedicated to succeeding. The author calls these entrepreneurs gladiators at times. You succeed or you die, and if you know how to die properly you will be able to start again. Third, AI scientists. Here China was essentially having their AI scientists trained in the US or Canada or Great Britain, and some in some other countries still even today (I had one student from Beijing in the intellectual properly master’s class of University of Paris II in 1999–2000). Then they just brought some western, AI engineers and scientists who were of Chinese extraction or were able to speak Chinese to China by providing them with working conditions and an income that could easily compete with what they could hope and only hope to get in the USA for at least twenty years, before maybe getting to the top. But now the Chinese have been able to train such AI scientists for some time and these young people are working in the shade of being unknown and implementing what is China’s next stage of AI development. But Fourth, China has had for a few years now a friendly policy environment, which means the government at all levels of society are planning their development in this field and putting on the table means that no other country can match.
And I should actually add a fifth element that Lee lists separately. Americans in the field are driven by a mission, an objective or a target that is either ethical or purely idealistic. Most entrepreneurs in the USA and other western countries want to reach and satisfy some abstract supposedly ethical objective like to enable everyone to say, publish and distribute what they think, with no limit and no matter what it may be: First Amendment Über Alles, even when it means hundreds of people killed in mosques or in churches. The debate about hate-expression on social networks is typical of this idealism, to the point that the international conference in New Zealand to force social networks, and First of all Facebook and Twitter to act against this hate expression will not be supported by Trump, as the POTUS. China, on the other hand, is absolutely market driven. The development of AI is supposed to satisfy needs that do exist in society, knowing that some limits have to be accepted to avoid any crumbling of social values as defined by the society itself. Lee, in fact, does not say — but I think he knows — that this approach is deeply Buddhist, in agreement with the Dhammapada, the basic collection of Buddha’s ethical principles expressed in the simple language of ordinary people. I even think the Buddhists would laugh at the G-MAFIA who are like a big elephant trapped in a mud hole and unable to get out of it, whereas the Chinese are like light and agile monkeys who can climb in trees and fly over the mudhole.
It is this realistic and applicational policy that enabled China to leapfrog for example from material money (banknotes and coins) to mobile payments for absolutely anything; Show me your QR code and you can pay for my services, for the goods you are buying, for the bike you are borrowing in the street, for absolutely anything you want. They leapfrogged over checkbooks, credit cards and all other money-transfer systems. They have reached a level of Online2Offline (O2O or o2o) activities that we cannot even imagine in western countries. This is something Lee understands and depicts very well. The popular Chinese culture that is all-powerful in the country is based on three elements. First, copying is basic and accepted because it is a good thing for us to imitate the good things other people do, what some call the copycat ideology and I would call it the basic Buddhist element: imitate the good things and actions you can see around you, and try to do good things that will be imitated by other people. Second, a scarcity mentality. All Chinese know what being poor means because they were all poor forty years ago and most of them were still poor fifteen years ago, and a minority of people that cannot be neglected are still poor particularly in the western provinces. They are not wasting or throwing away anything. They use and reuse what they have as long as it can be reused. This state of mind is only typical in our countries of a small minority of people, and they are not necessarily the poorest. I just hope this can go on later when abundance is reached in China. Third, the willingness to dive into any promising new industry is ever-present among the Chinese. The real social problem they have in China is the minority groups who are reluctant to get onto the train to development for various cultural or religious reasons. We, in the west, consider that is going against our principles of freedom of choice, even when the choice is absurd. The Chinese prefer educating these people and bringing them to a proper social committed attitude that enables them to contribute. If in Sri Lanka after Rajapaksa, they had not listened too much to the dangerous western mermaids singing that freedom must be total, the Muslim community would have been kept under some surveillance, the information from India would have been taken seriously, and the bomb attacks in churches and hotels would have been prevented. The Chinese are not going to authorize any minority to engage in such activities, be they Tibetan Buddhist monks or Uighur Muslims.
So, we will not be surprised by the conclusion of the author that China has a good chance to be leading in the field of Artificial Intelligence.
He considers the four waves of the emergence of AI in human society. First, Internet Artificial Intelligence for searching for, retrieving and integrating data and information on any subject. This intelligence is Boolean, and it has limits because it is purely mechanical. Second, the wave of Business Artificial Intelligence to identify users as for what they are interested in, what they may be interested in buying. Adapting current advertising to the characteristics of the users that can be collected from their personal behavior and practice on the Internet. When you buy a vacuum cleaner on Amazon, then you are bombarded with advertising for vacuum cleaners, including the one you have bought, which is idiotic since you just bought one. But it might be interesting to advertise the various elements you may need for this vacuum cleaner like bags, parts, etc. This is evolving slowly but it is evolving. The third wave, perception Artificial Intelligence. This AI is able to see and hear, mostly, what is around the user, including the user him or herself. It can recognize objects. It can recognize people. It can recognize your voice, etc. It can, of course, speak too, and speak in any voice, in any style, etc. Here we are entering another world of AI which makes this AI able to deal with you, with objects, with text, translate it, speak it out, look for a quotation anywhere, analyze objects in a picture, and many other things. The security procedure that asks you to click on three pictures that contain a car or a store among a set of six or eight pictures has not reached this level. Perception AI is able to do it and doing it does not prove you are human, or that the machine that does it is human. Lee considers that at this level we reach an OMO situation, an Online-Merge-Offline situation. I guess that is leading to virtual reality in everyday life: glasses that are able to detect hostile people around you. Lee is keen on considering OMO-powered education. It’s interesting but the learner remains the guinea-pig of the machine and that is NOT AT ALL at the level of what we need as for “education” in our modern world. We need “guided self-learning education,” and so far I cannot imagine how a machine could capture in a learner the motivations, especially the unexpressed or even hidden motivations. A human being can feel there is something hidden somewhere in the behavior of a person. We can be wrong, but a machine cannot do that. Maybe one day in another world. The fourth wave is that of autonomous Artificial Intelligence. I think Lee is limiting himself here. Autonomous cars, planes, ships, trains, etc. are interesting but they do not create a human world and Artificial Intelligence is reduced to something that is used in a machine. And that’s the main criticism I would level at this approach. What about Artificial Intelligence as used by human beings in their mental, intellectual and psychological or even behavioral activities? More about it further down.
The first and most important shortcoming is the fact that he never considers the social and economic consequences of the one-child-per-family policy. These children started entering the labor market at the end of the 1990s and the last representatives of the generations born before will finally get off the labor market around 2025. These older generations were poorly educated and low-qualified. They were the workers of a labor-intensive economy. They are replaced by the new generations of well-educated and highly qualified workers. The school system in about twenty years, by the end of the previous century, saw its students decrease in number three times at least. With the same means, the classes could be brought down, the teachers could be specialized (retrained for some of them) and the results were, of course, a tremendously better education with teachers close to the students and now for fifteen years they all have been endowed with smartphones (4G), tablets and computers. They can finally be the actors in their education. They can finally become self-learners provided they are guided properly. And that is absolutely already in place. Last year in Chengdu in a big shopping mall a group of three or four young women who introduced themselves as university students asked me if I wanted to answer their questions in English. They filmed it for about ten minutes and then the conversation went on. They were English majors and that work in the commercial mall was part of their studying program. They had been guided into doing it, but there was no professor, no one looking after them. They were self-learning. Lee does not seem to know that. He insists on rote-learning. The world is changing, and the contacts I had with research-students at the conference I was attending showed me these students were guided for sure and some of their professors were in the room, but they were self-learning how to present the results of the research of their laboratories, and we were dealing with medical studies (cancer) and social studies (the place of third age people in Chinese society). And there too they were defending a position that is not present in Lee’s book: old people must be kept autonomous as long as possible, must be active in all possible ways as long as they can, and most of all they must not be living with their children, though not too far away so that they can be in contact with their children and they can even help their children if necessary. You must understand that we are dealing with young couples who have four elders and only one child. How could the four elders be taken care of by the young couple?
The west considered that this one-child-per-family policy went against our basic human rights. Absurd. The Chinese government actually authorized a second child per family if one parent is a single child just a couple of years ago and it does not work really, thus proving that the adult generations of today do not want to expand their families for all sorts of personal reasons, and women seem to be even keener than men in the way they invest themselves in all social fields.
But the worst shortcoming of Lee and many other westerners on this question is that we do not seem to understand that for now twenty years or so, three low-qualified workers getting out of the labor market have been replaced by only one highly qualified worker. That requires the Chinese economy to shift from a labor-intensive situation to a high-tech economy with a light presence of workers (three times less altogether. The Chinese have to multiply by three the productivity of industrial and service work to just keep up with this social shift. They can’t even consider mass unemployment in such a situation because they entered already twenty years ago an age of scarce labor and it is the echo of the society of scarcity I spoke of before along with Lee. That will also prevent them from falling into colonialism because they do not have any labor to send out to foreign countries where they would be colonizing agents. And the second child, in the families that will shift to it, will only start being socially productive in still something like at least twenty years. Leapfrogging is the only way for the Chinese to cope with this social situation. There is only one country that has such a deficit of working population in the world. It is Germany (plus Russia after the dissolution of the USSR), but their integration in the European Community enables them to have the millions of workers they need, including highly qualified workers. But we will know what it is in twenty years since most European countries are falling under two children per fertile woman. We can then understand how crazy the campaign against abortion in the USA is since it creates a mass of workers in twenty years who will have no possible employment. But once again it is a battle with principles that are at stake here: free abortion for all women on one hand, and “let them live” anti-abortion campaign on the other hand. And of course, it motivates campaigns against immigration, particularly the immigration of families with many children. The west is producing its own slow progressive descent into social upheavals.
Lee rejects the dystopic prediction of Ray Kurzweil and his singularity that raises the question of the control of this complete takeover of machines over men when they will be more “intelligent” than men, or women by the way. He rejects the utopian techno-optimists who consider the market will solve the problem all by itself as it has always done, which is historically absurd because it refuses to see the massive ethnic cleansing that has been going on for many centuries, including the 50 million casualties of Hitlerian wars, 10 million per year in Europe. And what about the ten percent cyclical demographic deportation of slaves from Black Africa both across the Atlantic and around the Indian Ocean? The list of such ethnic cleansing is long and overpopulation, meaning when there will be no work, no income for millions and millions of people, will produce tremendous movements that will reduce the population on earth drastically: famines, upheavals, wars, wild migrations, etc. And you may think of the great plague known as the Black Death that destroyed between 50 and 70% of the European population in the 14th-15th centuries. All that is neglected. Lee rejects the Luddite fallacy or temptation. No one can stop science and technology. As soon as something is possible and it brings in a profit for those who can use this possibility, it will go on and there will be no Butlerian Revolution banning intelligent machines like in Frank Herbert’s Dune and there will be no “spice” to replace intelligent machines.
He refers to Hao Jinfang’s Folding Beijing that sees the future as a socially stratified future with all its means to control this stratification: ghettos, pogroms, etc. A new Brave New World of the 21st century. Such a society is not feasible, certainly not sustainable. We have already lived through the stratified industrial society of capitalism, and it is still at work in some countries, and we know how class struggles, revolutions and other events of the sort have disrupted society because in spite of what the optimists say about “a social contract,” it is a myth: it is only a period of social peace or limited disorder that enables society to work more or less smoothly. Jean Jacques Rousseau was a utopian and his concept has never been a reality in spite of the International Labor Organization (ILO) that tries to perpetuate the myth. The best example is how a minority movement like the Yellow Vests in France is disruptive and yet can achieve nothing in the long run. They are like a pothole in a road that is avoided with a detour.
Lee’s proposal of a “social investment stipend” paid to anyone who is ready to invest some of their time and energy in some socially useful activity to help, support, advise or even educate people is both a perfect intention that may end up in hell like the Universal Basic Income (UBI), because he himself says that this will be a stipend paid by the state to people for a transitional period before they get a job that would pay better, meaning the stipend will be low. In fact, the end of the book is centered on the concepts of love and compassion that are attributed to Buddhism. He sees that the needs for people in many fields like human contact, education, all sorts of care, advising and accompanying will be so necessary to just enable people to navigate in this world to come that we cannot see what the stipend will be for. Let’s say that massive numbers of workers will be liberated from their jobs within forty years at the most. Machines will produce the added value produced before by human work. But to live and work in this society will require a lot of education, advice, guidance, and care at every single step so that a tremendous number of people will have to provide these education, advice, guidance, and care to those who will need it. This is human contact and nothing else but human contact, what a machine will never be able to provide you with, not to speak of young children and old people. These will be professions like any other and the people in such human contact professions will be mobile and will be able to shift from one branch to another and from one place to another. Mobility, flexibility, and adaptability will be the most important elements and speaking to people will not be done through a machine, even a translating machine.
In conclusion Lee speaks of the three R’s “reduce, retrain, redistribute” but I think this approach is too narrow and at least three more R’s are necessary: re-orient (in time, in space, in environment, in community), re-evaluate (the constant re-evaluation of what you know and what you can do and what you would like to do, where, how, when, etc.), and re-humanize (how to set the human dimension in anything in the foreground). As for that, we need more than just a couple of falsely prophetic books, even more than half a dozen. We need a social, cultural, emotional and empathetic ambition. Lee has some of that in his book but he reduces it to words like “love” and “compassion” that are badly chosen. “Love” changes meanings from one context to the next. Love is not the same thing for a Christian, a Muslim or a modern non-believer. “Compassion” carries a condescendence that is rather irritating. Empathy would be better, but in fact, we are speaking of human contact here, understood as positive, non-violent, non-dominant, as being based on exchange because human life is exchange. If one provides guidance what does the beneficiary provides the guide with? And money is a little bit short. Buddhism has to be read in its original language, which is Pali, not in Sanskrit, and certainly not in English. The English translation of the Dhammapada has led some good doers to the idea that Buddha was just another Jesus. This is an absurdity. Buddha was a man who tried to teach human beings how they could improve their lives from within their minds more than from any outside, the outside political world, or the outside divine world, and to say that the divine world is inside the believer is the very negation of this divine world as divine.
So, get into the book and engross your mind with ideas for the future.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU