Friday, December 9, 2011

Steve Jobs and the Evolution of Consciousness and Technology

There is an extensive body of research that suggests that there are distinct evolutionary stages of individual and collective human consciousness, and that these stages co-evolve with developmental stages of techno-economic system growth. One of the scales used for these correlated stages was put forth by American philosopher and psycho-social researcher Ken Wilber. This scale correlates the Mythic, Rational, Pluralistic, and Integral stages of human and cultural consciousness with the techno-economic stages of the Agricultural, Industrial, Informational, and now the emerging Convergence Age.

As individual humans in all spheres (science, technology, art, philosophy, etc.) evolve through the various stages of consciousness, their created works reflect these stages and act as catalysts for the evolution of the consciousness of other individuals and their cultures and societies. Along this co-evolutionary path, there have been and continue to be certain individuals who are major contributors to this process, including Leonardo da Vinci, William Shakespeare, Rene Descartes, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Sigmund Freud, among many others.

Since the recent passing of Steve Jobs, there have been many who have commented on his profound influence on our world, and on his possible ranking with some of these other evolutionary-influencing individuals. I believe they are correct in this assessment, because the technological devices that Steve Jobs helped to create and share with the world are, on the most basic level, powerful and elegant convergence devices.

The iPod, iPhone, and iPad are tools that integrate and converge previously separate technologies and their corresponding individual, cultural, and social functions (i.e., the phone is no longer just a phone, it is also a computer, calculator, appointment book, portable music and video player, gaming console, etc.). The ramifications of this convergence extend from the way we perceive our world to the way the world around us works. Embedded in these convergence tools and their converging functions is the Integral structure of consciousness, which allows us to perceive self, culture, and world in deeper, more expansive, and more integrated ways. In light of this, I would indeed say that so far Steve Jobs is one of the major individual contributors to the emergence of the Convergence Age, and that we owe him and those that have come before him our deepest respect and gratitude. Thanks Steve!