Here is just a spattering of interesting reading.
- Kaku on dimensions. N.B. You, good sir, have corrected someone on the Internet. The formulas have not been worked out for m-theory (10+ dimensions).
- Hameroff on the possibility of microtubules being a substrate for consciousness.
- Is everything made of mini black holes?
- Occultists meditating on subatomic particles in the late 19th century
We've only begun to scratch the surface of consciousness because of the Enlightenment bias. That the frontiers of science are peculiarly reminiscent of ancient wisdom does not mean I would blindly do away with the scientific method. In fact, scientific breakthroughs are often a marriage of inexplicable insight and subsequent deductive analysis.
The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand. -Frank Herbert
Your consciousness is reborn every moment. Western science hasn't been able to touch this topic since Descartes left questions of the interaction between mind and body to the church (to avoid Galileo's fate). Many of our most revered mathematicians and natural scientists, e.g. Pythagoras and Newton, were mystics who pondered much more than just planes of existence. Unfortunately, their mystical works have been downplayed to fit the new worldview heralded by the so-called Enlightenment, which in addition to the flourishing of reason and empiricism, was also a strong reaction to the hypocrisies of the church at the time. IMHO, the pendulum swung too far toward materialism to the detriment of the philosophies of consciousness.
Today, we're finally seeing research that attempts to answer the questions Descartes left in his closet. The discoveries of entanglement, fields of potential, the now measurable 10 dimensions, and the event horizons in our microtubules put us face to face with these age old mysteries. Maybe the experiential science of introspective contemplation has something to add to the dialogue. After all, great minds have been at it for thousands of years.
Happiness is the natural result of not identifying with a self that is separate from others. Selfishness is the antithesis of happiness.
In Buddhist terminology, true compassion is the sense of you-are-the-same-as-me that automatically moves one to act alleviate the suffering of another (because it hurts the helper almost the same). It's not the same as pity, which may not be sufficient to motivate helping. Paradoxically (to people unaccustomed to practicing compassion), feeling the suffering of others who are sick, dying, aging, in war, etc. actually increases one's happiness as it diminishes one's feelings of alienation.
Although I agree it is a bit disingenuous to couch his predictions in scientific language, there is a positive side effect to his spiel. Who else can attract the resources to gather so many geniuses in a room? Scrolling through the list of advisors, I recognize such luminaries as Vint Cerf and Will Wright. Think of him as a story-teller, not a weatherman. The weatherman may help you plan for the immediate future. The story-teller or myth-maker primes the imagination to build a better future based on affirming deliberate values rather than history and habit. Inspiring, corralling, and funding the wills and insights of smart people in multiple fields is bound to produce something of value despite our failure to precisely anticipate the result.
In other words, there's some good in the ra ra. After all, inventions originate from "I want to believe."
I like your idea. When laws are too extremely opposed to natural inclination, they will be broken and sometimes with dire consequences. Make laws that correspond to how people generally think they themselves should act (not what they think others should do) and they will be followed more often than not. People often think laws apply only to others. Designing laws from a "what if I got caught" perspective makes them more reasonable and followable.
Also, even though tech rarely solves social problems like this one, it may help: mandate that a button on the phone be assigned to texting "Driving. Will respond later" and don't penalize people for pressing it, much the same way it's not explicitly illegal to turn off your radio while in motion.