PureInsight | April 1, 2002
1. Prevalent Computer Viruses
Even as I write this article, viruses are attempting to infect my computer. Recently, Windows-targeted viruses are more rampant. Once such a virus infects an unprotected computer, it propagates throughout the network, seeking to infect other Windows users. My protected computer network records indicate that the ratio of virus attacks versus normal visits is two to one. When hackers are mentioned, most of us instantly associate them with the youngsters from the United States and Europe, but in fact, many of the recent viruses turn out to be from China and Japan. Japan's economy is founded on information and networking technology. The Office for General Affairs in Japan reported that in the month of October 2001 alone, 270,000 people subscribed to a high-speed network system for the first time. Japanese Yahoo! recently announced that their usership exceeded one million and that web pages and emails are used at least as frequently as is the telephone, making the Internet simply indispensable.
Advances in technology seemingly make human life easier, but, on the other hand, the harm the advances bring is becoming greater and more apparent. For example, virus damage to computers in 2001 exceeded damage in the previous two to three years combined. Internet security is now the general user's concern and not, as it was in the past, just the specialist's problem. Anti-viral, firewall and other security programs are the fastest growing sector of Internet technology. But its rapid growth is only part of a vicious cycle: the appearance of a new anti-virus program inevitably spawns a new, "resistant" virus. The high-speed network is only a catalyst for this cycle. The 9.11 tragedy reminds us that what is fundamentally threatening is that the technological advances but the lack of human moral values. If nobody wanted to write virus programs, Internet security would not be such a big issue. If no one wanted to wage terror on innocent civilians, there would not be so many sacrificial lambs! If humankind is over-confident when it comes to technology and replaces moral virtues with human desires as a guiding ideology, then humans will act without humanity! Laws and newer technology will never solve the problems we see today. However, if one subscribes to 'Zhen-Shan-Ren,' is sincere and compassionate in all dealings, thinks of others first, and increasingly has no attachments to name and fame, could such a person perform such wanton acts?
2. The Dangers of Computer Games
Computer games are extremely popular in Japan, not only with children, but among adults, too.
Have we not seen the faces of those playing the network battle games? Their faces turn red and they are fixated on annihilating the opposition. Repeatedly playing such games will inevitably skew their vision. They will look at the weak as prey for the strong and regard winning at any cost as the most important thing. The number of games with massacre and extreme violence themes is shocking, as is the escalating crime rate among Japanese youth, which includes increased school violence. The correlation suggests that these games play a part in fallen moral standards among children, where they lack compassion and show no regard for others. It is not only computer games, however. With television shows and news reports, children are inundated with negativity; they are bound to imitate what they process. What will they become as they grow old? The result is too obvious!
Furthermore, all it takes is to press the 'Reset' key of the computer to repeat the game. No matter what the outcome of each game is, it can be repeated till the game is won. But in real life, one is responsible for all their actions, including mistakes. Those computer game addicts too easily equate computer game results with the real world. It is then too easy for one to commit a wrongdoing without realizing it. That person may not even acknowledge something as wrong. This is a very frightening thought.
3. Computers are Alive
People in my office often say: 'My computer is in a bad mood today.' You may not believe it, but computers are actually alive. For example, one day the accountant in my company could not produce a balance sheet and asked me to help. When she repeated the exact same process, there was no problem at all. The next day she was alone in the office and the same problem occurred. Losing her temper she exclaimed, "You just wait! When Mr. Wu (my last name) returns, he will deal with you!' With that said, the computer immediately returned to normal!
4. Using or Being Used by the Computer?
The all-pervading use of computers makes the computer-illiterate simply "not with it." Originally, the computer was strictly an instrument of convenience. Can we still say that is the case? It is not that we want to learn the computer—no workplace is without them—we now have to learn the computer. To do so, we spend large amounts of money to acquire hardware and accompanying software and countless hours reading manuals and attending workshops. And it is not just a matter of compliance in the workplace. Aesthetics of appropriateness demand the use of a computer: even a greeting card needs to be computerized! It appears that the computers give orders to us. When I met an old colleague recently, he told me, "I feel as if I am under orders from electric waves the whole day." He owns two mobile phones and two email accounts, which automatically forward messages to the mobile phones. Nearly everyone in Japan has a mobile phone. No matter where we are, we are accessible at all times, as the electric waves will always find us. We have lost our personal freedom.
I am not against modern technology; human life has improved with the advance of technology. What I am saying is that this science is more superficial than we think it is. Mankind cannot just base the development of technology on their desires, paying no attention to moral guidelines. It is known that the computer industry has developed more rapidly than anything else in the last quarter of century. The military demand for computers during WWII laid an excellent foundation for today's boom. Today, other than an uninhabited island or desert, we are engulfed in a sea of silicon and fiberoptics. Electric rice cookers, refrigerators and virtually every other appliance contain a computer chip. IBM has even developed a computer that can be worn as apparel. Humans may be utilizing computers to their advantage, but the more we do so, the more we are confined by them. Simply put, we are slaves to the computer. We depend on the computer to store data, stocks and shares, and analyse our financial investments. We even rely on the computer for decisions, like piloting a train and airplane. Progressing further, it is possible that humans will obey computers in more facets of life, eventually making an environment in which computers totally command humans. In an international chess tournament, a computer has finally beaten the living grand master. Computers are becoming more "intelligent" than the human brain. The more we rely on them, the more we lose control in a world created by self-destructive desires.
Visitors to Japan are always amazed at the constant bustle and rapid foot pace of pedestrians in the big cities. The country is always busy, from morning until night. But why are we on earth? What have we achieved with such busy-ness? How much time do we spend with our families? How many bosom friends do we have? If it is not war, it is stocks, shares, or even committing soft crimes that obsess. When do our hearts become tranquil? A person who lives by 'Zhen-Shan-Ren' will be honest with himself or herself, have consideration for others, and have no worldly attachments to gain or loss. The heart is therefore always tranquil, always peaceful.
5. The More Advanced the Computer, the More Backwards the Human
No matter how complex a computer is, it is still a mere system requiring more inputs than outputs that it produces. It is nothing compared to the complex varieties that a human being faces, who is merely the smallest component of the society. Inputting certain data into a computer will always yield the same result. But a human is not like that. A human does not merely consist of matter: "one must have human temperament, personality, character, and Primordial Spirit in order to constitute a complete and independent person with individuality." (Zhuan Falun, Lecture One) Different people will approach a problem with different solutions. Even one person's approach will vary depending on time, surrounding circumstances and a variety of personal conditions. Amidst growing computer dependence, do we not feel that our life is becoming easier and easier, our language becoming more simplistic and everyone becoming more and more alike? If we all think alike, act alike, wear the same clothes, and have the same personality and culture, is there anything more tragic than that? Parents today often encourage their children to use computers starting from a very young age, hoping this will enhance their intellectual development. But recent studies show that contact with computers is proportional to a weak memory. The more contact, the weaker the memory. The implications of this study are obvious.
The human body has many properties seemingly hidden from view. For example, the third eye, clairvoyance, precognition and retrocognition and so on are special capabilities that are generally recognised yet largely misunderstood. At present we call them supernormal capabilities, but they are, in fact, inborn human qualities. Developments in human society have made human thinking more complicated, more adsorbed in "physical reality" and more reliant on modern tools. This has resulted in the degeneration of original human capabilities. Is anything more frightening than blindly developing science while heeding morality less and less? Some people think that more innovative technology can solve present social problems. This is only thinking very superficially. If we do not uplift our morality we cannot solve anything. We are all familiar with anthrax scares in the United States. Isn't it somewhat telling that anthrax is produced in a laboratory? Our desire-based technologies eventually haunt us. Mad-cow disease is another example. It resulted from bioengineers feeding vegetarian cattle carnivore fodder to increase beef production, (in addition to using various pharmaceuticals and genetic manipulation.) It is said that mad-cow disease is the result of bad technology. But isn't lowered morality what drives this technology to begin with, which results in a lack of respect for nature, a drive to get rich quick and ultimately a lack of regard for consumers? If the humans stray from benevolence, then it is impossible to solve any problem at its foundation.
The present human society has numerous problems. If we wish to fundamentally solve them, we must begin with the human will. The world needs sincerity, kind-heartedness, peace; lives need 'Zhen Shan Ren' (Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance).