Do you know about the Go contest held in Korea between the artificial intelligence, AlphaGo, and Sedol Lee? Lee is a world-class, professional Go player, and AlphaGo is a Go computer program created by Google. In this contest, Lee was utterly defeated by AlphaGo, four-to-one. Many people were shocked. I was no exception, either. I had thought that, no matter how amazing they may be, the abilities of a computer could never match those of a human in the intuition, judgment, and quick reactions demanded by the infinite creativity and variability of the game. It is now difficult to say that cognitive abilities like learning, thinking, judging, and choosing are the unique characteristics of human beings.
Many now foresee artificial intelligence being applied in a variety of fields that demand advanced intellectual abilities, from the diagnosis of disease to accounting, investment, and legal consulting. It is already being applied in some of these areas. In the future, we will gradually come to depend on artificial intelligence for more decisions and choices. The time when good memory and smarts were things to be proud of will soon come to an end.
If intellectual activity is no longer a uniquely human domain, in what, then, should we find human worth? Until now, we have sought value in things that tasted better, in things that were more beautiful and cooler, and in things that were more fun. While we're ceaselessly competing to obtain such things, the global environment is deteriorating more and more, and war and violence continue.
The critical situation we are facing is not rooted in politics, economics, the environment, or technology. We are experiencing an existential crisis, in which humanity has now lost its inherent value and in which we cannot know our reason for existing. This is a crisis of the soul.
Many people are suffering, stuck in an emotional quagmire of anger, loneliness, emptiness, and self-pity. The human is an emotional animal. It's natural that we are happy when good things happen and sad or angry when bad things happen. Vitality and dynamism develop in our lives when we master our emotions; otherwise, they become a significant obstacle impeding our growth.
Those who master their emotions develop them to the level of sensibility. If emotions are self-centered feelings, then sensibility is the ability to feel the emotions of others as if they were my own and to communicate my feelings to others. The heart of human sensibility is empathy. Empathy is a high-level sense, not knowledge or information. It's a feeling. Sensibility is something we awaken to and develop, not learn through understanding.
If we feel that we are connected with other people, and if we feel the suffering of others as if it were our own, then great changes will come to the way in which we treat other people, other organisms, and the earth. The key to solving problems like violence, discrimination, inequality, human rights abuse, and environmental destruction is recovering empathy, not developing institutions or technologies. Our empathy, the desire to escape from our egos and unconditionally help other people and other lives, this is the value of natural intelligence that artificial intelligence, no matter how much it develops, can never replace. In other words, it is the innate value and characteristic of human beings.
What's important is that everyone has this ability to feel empathy, not just one or two special people. Empathy is an important characteristic of the human brain. I believe that recovering human sensibility and empathy are a solution promising peace and sustainability for the earth, as well as health and happiness for individuals. That's why awakening and developing a sensitivity for feeling empathy—for yourself, for the lives around you, and, furthermore, for the earth—are central to my Brain Education programs.
Our brains (thoughts) and hearts (feelings) become one through empathy. We feel a sense of emptiness no matter how much we obtain in the world unless our hearts and brains have empathy. Our hearts can commune as one, and we can find tasks on which we can work together for the suffering earth, even though our countries, languages, and cultures are different, because we have empathy.
I was meditating on the true value of humanity when a thought came to mind like a light coming on in my brain. I think that probably everyone knows about the geocentric and heliocentric models of the universe. In the geocentric model, the heavens move while the earth stands still, and in the heliocentric model, the earth itself moves. I thought of a new concept, the humanitarian model, as an expression of the true value and role of humanity now, in these times.
If the geocentric model embodies a self-centered understanding of what is visible to the eye, then the heliocentric model embodies a holistic understanding that views things objectively. I think that the time has now come for us to go beyond the heliocentric model to a humanitarian model. While the previous paradigms had the heavens moving and then the earth moving, in the humanitarian model, people move.
We know that many of the problems facing the planet right now generally have developed because of us humans. And we're feeling that we should maturely take responsibility for this. We should believe that we have the power to create a new mode of life, one characterized by harmony and cooperation instead of competition, possession, and control. We each have that power. A new earth is possible. We can live differently from how we've lived so far.
If we awaken the sensibility and empathy our brains already have, and if all people realize their true worth and bravely practice the inner realizations they've experienced, we will be able to change the world and save the earth. I started the Earth Citizen Movement
with such hope and faith. May the vision of creating by the year 2020 a hundred million Earth Citizens, who share in this thinking and act with us, pound in the hearts of many people, including yours and mine. Let's do this together.