Summary Notes on HOMO DEUS. A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari 2015 written by John Baxter March 2018. 5,814 words 9 pages so worth printing off.
These notes simply seek to summarise Homo Deus as an aid to understanding the book’s challenging ideas. It is not a review for I do not here judge what he says. It is an aid not a substitute for reading the book and his equally challenging SAPIENS.
Famine, Disease and War are in comparative decline. Wealth in gold, land and oil has been replaced by knowledge, making conventional war less likely – Syria excepted. Cyberwarfare with logic bombs is a threat, but may not be used because of its effects. We also cannot blame FDW on a god. Up to us now. We must protect the planet from the dangers of our own power. Our next targets, immortality, happiness and divinity. Death is treated as a technical glitch to be fixed. Deny it, accept it or fight it. A 150 yr. average age is possible. Also we forget how many lived more than 70yrs even before modern medicine. Eternal youth however not possible in 21st Cent he thinks.
Bentham. Utilitarianism. Physical happiness is the goal now and from the greatest number to the individual. Epicurus – moderation and deep friendship give more happiness than fame and pleasure. Achieving real happiness is no easier than overcoming old age and death. Attempts now made to manipulate biochemistry to “rig the system” and keep depression at bay. The biochemical pursuit of happiness is now the no 1 cause of crime.
The Buddha taught that the pursuit of pleasant sensation is the root of suffering. (Actually he taught it is tanha, desire, negative and positive) The Buddhist solution is to reduce our craving for pleasant sensations so they do not control our lives p48. The 2nd grt project of 21st cent will involve re-engineering us to enjoy everlasting pleasure. Bliss and immortality – upgrade to being gods. Bio-engineers will rewrite the genetic code. Cyborg engineers will merge the organic body with non-organic devices – hands eyes. A cyborg can exist in numerous places at the same time. Next comes non-organic AI. What will they do with us? P62 Opportunities will go further for biological upgrades. Healing is the initial justification for every upgrade but they are then pushed further.
For 300 yrs. the world has been dominated by humanism which sanctifies the life, happiness and power of homo sapiens. Due to an uncompromising humanistic belief in the sanctity of human life we keep people alive until we reach such a pitiful state that we are forced to ask, “What exactly is so sacred here?” p75.
We need investigate what humanism really is, how humanism became the dominant world religion, and why attempting to fulfil this dream is likely to cause its disintegration.
The Anthropocene Age. Never has a single species changed the global ecology all by itself. Humankind is now placed to replace natural selection with intelligent design and to extend life from the organic into the inorganic.
Our Stone Age ancestors changed the flora and fauna on every continent before they planted the first wheat field, made the first metal tool, text or coin.
Initially as animists we had sympathy for animals. By OT times only the serpent speaks. The Bible is a product of the agricultural revolution. This lead to the domestication of animals for agricultural needs. Leading to the ignoring of their need and much suffering p.93. As we ignore their emotions.
Emotions. These are ALGORITHAMS. An algorithm is a methodical set of steps that can be used to – make calculations – resolve problems – make decisions. It is a recipe. MAN is also an algorithm. Making copies of ourselves through sensations, emotions and thoughts. EG the baboon and the lion. He feels fear, hunger, mouth-watering. His process of calculation. p100. Passion and disgust, beauty. 99% of our decisions are made by our sensations, emotions and desires, not by reasoning. Motherly love and a strong mother/infant bond characterises all mammals. This was only recognised in the fifties. Meat and dairy industries continue to ignore this. They only meet the material needs of pigs and cows.
The Agricultural deal. 2nd Temple sacrifice was a bloody business. Theism showed how humans should dominate. Christianity gives only man a soul so animals become mere extras. The gods safeguarded food production and in exchange humans shared with the gods. Nepal 250,000 animals sacrificed in 2009
Ch. 3. THE HUMAN SPARK
Theists claim Humans are endowed with an immortal soul. Animals are not. The idea of a soul contradicts evolution. In US widespread rejection of the idea that humans evolved by natural selection and 46% say within last 10,000 yrs. Evolution: all biological entities are composed of smaller and simpler parts. There is no individual essence.
The stock exchange has no consciousness. Contrast of soul with mind. The mind is a flow of subjective experiences, of sensations, emotions and thoughts – all mingled together in the stream of consciousness. What of animals? All mammals and most animals have sensations and emotions and these are now seen as biochemical algorithms. This also applies to humans. Even in humans it is now known we initiate actions unconsciously. Perhaps for us too behind emotions like hunger, fear, love, anger and loyalty lurk unconscious algorithms. Science still knows little about mind and consciousness. Current theory is that consciousness is created by electrochemical actions in the brain. How these electrochemical reactions can bring about the subjective experiences of anger, pain or love is the big mystery.
Memories imaginings and thoughts are triggered by the actions of BILLIONS of neurons. What happens in the mind that does not happen in the brain? This is the unanswered question. If nothing happens in the mind that does not happen in the brain why do we need the conscious experience of memory? Organisms are algorithms and algorithms can be represented in mathematical formulae. None of the data processing systems we have created needs subjective experience in order to function. None feel pleasure, pain, anger or love. Maybe we need subjective experiences in order to think about ourselves and communicate with others? As AI develops with self-driving cars this becomes untenable for they do all these things without subjective consciousness.
Maybe the mind should join the soul, god and ether as an unnecessary final cause.
The agricultural revolution gave birth to theistic religions and the scientific revolution gave birth to humanist religions. Liberalism, communism and Nazism. Behind all these the idea that Homo sapiens has a unique and sacred essence that lies behind all meaning and authority. Everything that happens in the whole cosmos is judged good or bad by its impact on Homo sapiens.
Once science was applied we could tackle and eliminate many diseases, but also further abuse and manipulate domesticated animals. Pigs in particular. (A sensitive, intelligent, feeling mammal.) We now show unprecedented interest in the behaviour of lower life forms. Perhaps because we are about to become one.
What makes us special? Tool making and intelligence are given but these are not enough. We are the only species capable of co-operating flexibly in large numbers. Armies better than hordes. Communist revolution brought about by a small disciplined elite. Sapiens relate according to a “warm social logic” hunter gatherers co-operate and share. Our emotions are algorithms developed for HG society. Many empires and kingdoms were very unequal but surprisingly stable and efficient. Our co-operation in large numbers is based on our accepting imaginary orders like the sky god, heaven and hell. Sharing the same stories helps humans obey the same rules. Mass co-operation is based not just on recognising objective reality (gravity) and subjective moods and feelings, but on a 3rd level of INTERSUBJECTIVE ENTITIES.
Money is one of these. Also laws, gods and entire empires – their stories can melt away. Meaning is created when many weave together a common network of stories. To study history is to watch the spinning and unravelling of these webs. P171 he gives e.g. of the crusader story. Sapiens uses language to create completely new realities. These intersubjective realities have become ever more powerful. Other species lack the necessary imagination. These realities cannot be reduced to hormones and neurones. To think historically is to recognise the real power of our imaginary stories.
During the 21st Cent the border between history and biology is liable to blur, not because we will discover biological explanations for historical events, but rather because the ideological fictions that give meaning to the world are deciphered.
PT 2 HOW SAPIENS GIVES MEANING TO THE WORLD
How did humanism become the most important religion of all? Animals inhabit a 2 stage reality, external events and internal states. Sapiens 3 stage also our stories “about Christ, France and Apple” gained such power. HG life could not build big, AG REV necessary for development of Ur and Sumeria. Gods were landowning legal entities. As real as Google and Microsoft are for us. Sumerians invented writing and money and so broke the limitations of human nature. Pharaoh was a brand – like Elvis. More than an individual. Writing made it possible to organise entire societies in an algorithmic fashion. Calculations Think of a modern hospital. The algorithmic structure shows the individuals do not really matter as long as they all follow the regulations they stand a good chance of curing you.
HOLY SCRIPTURES p195 as bureaucracies accumulate power so they become immune to their own mistakes. They change reality to fit their stories. Priests and scribes become the keepers of reality. Bible, Koran, Vedas. Governments use money to compute the value of everything else and the school systems make exams the basis for employment opportunity. When Herodotus and Thucydides were up against religion it was the Jewish world view of history that won. If the barbarians invaded it was divine punishment.
You need to judge these structures against a real entity. How? Very simple. Can it suffer? The Euro does not suffer, people do. Animals do. This is REALITY.
We will create more powerful fictions and totalitarian regimes than ever before. With the help of biotechnology and computer algorithms. These will be able to shape our bodies, brains and minds and create entire virtual worlds complete with heavens and hells. To distinguish religions from science will become more difficult and more vital.
CH 5 THE ODD COUPLE (Science and Religion)
- Myths continue to dominate and science only makes them stronger. Fiction and reality blur and people reshape reality to fit their pet fictions.
Defining religion as belief in gods is problematic. Created by man it should be defined by its social function.
RELIGION is an all-encompassing story that confers superhuman legitimacy on human norms, laws and values. It legitimizes social structures by arguing that they reflect super-human laws.
We are subjected to a set of moral laws that we did not invent or change. This is true of theistic Jews, Christians, Muslims and Hindus who all see moral laws as god given. Buddhism, Daoism Communism, Liberalism argue that these so-called human laws are natural. This simply means for them that they see their systems of laws as not being invented by humans. Every society tells its members they must obey some superhuman moral law.
THE BUDDHA The gap between religion and spirituality is wide. Religion is a deal. Spirituality is a journey which takes people to unknown destinations. Gotama, Jesus, Luther. Who am I? What is the meaning of Life? What is good? (He then refers to spiritual/materialistic dualism. Good spiritual soul trapped inside an evil material body.)
RELIGION AND SCIENCE
- In time the light of science will dispel the darkness of religion as the world becomes increasingly rational, secular and prosperous.
- Science needs religion to provide moral backing and guidance that science on its own cannot give. (Example big Chinese dam)
- Science speaks of facts, religion of values and never do they meet.
In fact religion makes claims about facts, e.g. the existence of the soul and of an afterlife. Eg Abortion. Science has a lot to say about the nervous system of the foetus and newly born. Religions often turn factual statements into ethical judgements thus causing confusion. Harris thinks all humans seek to minimise suffering and maximise happiness. Until we can analyse consciousness we have no real definition of happiness and suffering. Science and religion prefer order and power over truth. Truth is a spiritual journey that cannot remain within the confines of either establishments.
Modern science makes use of humanist dogmas seeking not to question but to implement them.
CH 6 P233 THE MODERN COVENANT BETWEEN SCIENCE AND RELIGION.
Meaning is given up in exchange for power. The idea that we play a part in some great cosmic plan has now been given up. Life has no script, playwright or director. The universe is a blind and purposeless process “full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.” We believe not in purpose, only in cause. Shit happens. Science will fuel new technologies and economic growth in a cycle that will lead us to what? Happiness? We are caught up in a constant pursuit of power in a universe devoid of meaning. Growth is not only possible, but essential to stave off collapse. Produce more, consume more and enjoy a happier life. Economic growth has become the point where almost all movements meet. All the big politicians put their careers on getting economic growth. We need not growth in stuff but in knowledge and the nemesis for economic growth is ecological collapse. We are in a brittle biosphere where breakdown would cause meltdown, a fall in human standards and threaten the existence of human civilisation. Every stride that brings the Delhi slum dweller closer to the American Dream also brings the world closer to the brink.
Global warming continues unabated by agreements. The only way to reduce it is to stop economic growth. Why do we gamble the future of human kind on the assumption that some future scientists will find a technical fix for our problem?
Ch. 7 THE HUMANIST REVOLUTION
Science gives us power if we renounce our part in a great cosmic plan that gives meaning to life. Society needs shared meaning if there is to be order. The antidote has been HUMANISM. Humanity to play the part of God in Christianity and Islam and the natural order in Buddhism and Daoism. We create meaning for ourselves in a meaningless world and our free will is the highest authority of all. Rousseau. “In the depths I only have to consult myself to know what to do. What I feel is good is good and what I feel is bad is bad.” Now people marry for love on the basis of their personal feelings. This can justify extra-marital affairs. Divine commandments no longer carry weight. Murder is wrong because of the suffering it causes. Similarly with theft. If an action causes no harm to others there is nothing wrong with it. Sexuality e.g. LGBT parade in Jerusalem Jews, Christians and Muslims object because “it hurt our feelings.” Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Duchamp urinal. Free market based on the free will of the customer and with agriculture specialist breeding to increase production is for the customer. Making profits implies wanted products and a force for good. Human feelings are the source of all meaning. Education teaching students to think for themselves. In the end most important is what YOU think on matters. Heaven and hell become internal, based on our feelings. Belief or disbelief in god become a matter of choice and the judgement of my inner self. I feel His presence and my heart tells me He is there, and visa versa. In the end it is a personal choice.
In the past it was truth = scripture x logic. Now Knowledge = empirical data x mathematics. Problem. This does not provide a basis for values. Knowledge = experience x sensitivity. We spend years collecting experiences and developing sensitivity to deal with them. Our moral sensitivity sharpens and experience becomes a valuable source of knowledge. Life a gradual process of inner change leading from ignorance to enlightenment. The distillation of experiences of life into wisdom. WAR judged by reason and emotion including the suffering of the ordinary soldier – not just the narrative of general, outstanding heroes, kings and leaders. The experience of the “ordinary grunt” becomes central.
THREE STRANDS OF HUMANISM
1. Liberal Humanism or Liberalism. Aim, the development and freedom of the individual. The individual knows best, liberal art sees beauty in the eye of the beholder, Lib economics and the free market is based on the belief that the customer is always right, Lib ethics – if it feels good we should go ahead and do it. Education teaches us to find out answers for ourselves. This is allied to nationalism for democracy only works when the majority agree on the basics such as the unique communal experiences and culture of groups. If they do not share these, polarisation and conflict can bring it down.
- Socialist Humanism. Based on the thinking of Marx. Society seen as being in a state of class conflict. Only if I take into account who owns the means of production and the structures of power and exploitation and work against them can I and we be liberated to flourish.
- Evolutionary Humanism. Survival of the fittest individuals, entrepreneurs, nations, cultures, scientists all need to compete and conflict if there is to be progress. War can bring this on and we need promote the clever, the strong and the resolute and the result will be the production of super humans. Hitler, yes, but possibly the most powerful version of humanism for the 21st century. The horrors of Nazism should not blind us to the insights evolutionary humanism already has and might offer.
The 20th century saw the greatest religious wars in history between the three forms of humanism. Liberals thought science and good sense would create paradise on earth. Socialists said liberalism left everyone free to starve and Nazism sought to establish a master race. Surprisingly thanks to communism liberalism won in the west. 25 million soviet citizens lost compared to half a million Britons and half a million Americans.
As of 2016 there is no viable alternative to liberal democracy, human rights and the free market. China is neither but nobody knows what the Chinese believe which makes them the breeding ground for the new techno religions coming from Silicon Valley.
Radical Islam, Fundamentalist Christianity and Messianic Judaism or revivalist Hinduism. They all do not get the point that god really is dead. God is dead, it is just taking a long time to get rid of the body. 313 The religions cannot even understand the questions being asked.
What will happen to the job market when artificial intelligence outperforms humans in most cognitive tasks?
What will be the political impact of a massive new class of economically useless people?
What will be the impact on relationships, families and pension funds when nanotechnology and regenerative medicine turn eighty into the new fifty?
What will happen to human society when biotechnology allows us to have designer babies and to open unprecedented gaps between rich and poor?
The powers of biotechnology and computer algorithms have to be grasped. The main products of the 21st Century will be bodies, brains and minds. The gap between those who know how to do this and those who do not will be HUGE.
Christianity posited all are of equal value before God so challenging social hierarchy and gender relationships. The poor and the meek inherit the earth gives ammo for generations of revolutionaries. Vatican closest thing to Silicon Valley in 12th century. Administrative systems, catalogues, time keeping and data processing. Monasteries changed agriculture, cathedral schools and first universities. Now the religions are reactive against the changes brought by technology. Trad religions are no alternative to liberalism.
When bioengineering and AI reveal their full potential democracy and free markets may become as obsolete as Islam and Communism. What will happen when we realise that customers and voters never make free choices. What happens when the human experience becomes just another designable product?
PART 3 HOMO SAPIENS LOOSES CONTROL
Can humans carry on running the world and giving it meaning when biotechnology and AI threaten humanism?
What new religion might replace humanism?
Humanism is based on what it thinks is a factual statement – that human beings have free will. Brain processes are either deterministic or random or a combination of both, but they are never free. When random accidents combine with deterministic processes we get probabilistic outcomes, but this does not amount to freedom. Evolution. If humans are free how could natural selection have shaped them? Humans act according to their desires and if by FW we mean acting according to our desires that we have free will, then also do chimps, dogs and parrots. Q. Can they choose their desires in the first place? Today we can use scanners to predict desires and choices before the subject it aware of them. I do not choose my desires. I only feel them and act accordingly. In reality there is only a stream of consciousness and desires arise and pass away, but 1there is no permanent self that chooses the desires. If organisms lack free will we can control them using drugs and genetic engineering and direct brain stimulation. See p 335 for example. We may be able to focus, play and learn with new abilities.
We do not also have a single self. (There are 2 it seems) Activities use both hemispheres of the brain, but not to the same degree. We have at least two selves, the experiencing self ES and the narrating self NS. ES is our moment to moment consciousness. Retrieving stories and making big decisions and editing memories is the work of the narrating self. It ends stories with a happy ending. The ES is often able to sabotage the best laid plans of the NS. See what happens with NY resolutions.
THE MEANING OF LIFE
If you wish to get people to believe in imaginary entities, get them to sacrifice something valuable. The more painful the sacrifice the more convinced they will be of the existence of the imaginary recipient. Example those involved in war wish to assert they have not died in vain. Caporreto 700,000 Italians lost. It is easier to live with the fantasy for this gives meaning to suffering. The free individual self is just a fictional tale. This Dawkins and Pinker refuse to accept. 355.
Liberalism is not threatened by the philosophical idea that “there are no free individuals” but technologies which are about to be very useful but make no allowance for the free will of individuals. Will democracy, the free market and human rights survive this?
Ch. 9 THE GREAT DECOUPLING (Intelligence from consciousness)
Liberals believe each individual is uniquely valuable. This is challenged by
1. Humans will lose their economic and military usefulness.
2. The system will find value in humans collectively but not in unique humans.
3. Value will be found in a new elite of unique superhumans.
1793 democracy and en masse call-up. Democratic armies fight better.
In 21st C both men and women might lose their military and economic value. Drones and Special Forces. Techno experts. Cyber wars with devastating consequences for system destruction may only last a few minutes.
As masses lose their economic importance intelligence is decoupling from consciousness. Many non-conscious intelligences can perform many tasks better than humans. All tasks based on pattern recognition. Which is more important, intelligence or consciousness. For armies and corporations intelligence is mandatory and consciousness is optional. P362. Soon perhaps unenhanced humans will be completely useless. Lying is better spotted by machines. Why should I want to know thermodynamics or geometry when they can all be accessed by computer programmes? Medicine. Both GPs and specialists are under threat from IT Watson
When mindless algorithms will be able to better teach, design and make, what will we do. Up to now we thought this will result in the creation of new jobs but nothing guarantees it will be like that in the future. Algorithms are better at recognising patterns. Organic algorithms have all been shaped by natural selection but algorithms are not affected by the materials from which they are built – be they organic or mechanical. At what are humans better? Facial recognition? Chess? No AI outperforms both. Also Alpha Go. Truck driving? The Stock Exchange? Google and Tesla are on to it. Creativity and Art? David Cope377 has devised programmes that compose like Bach Beethoven and Haiku and original music.
Liberalism defeated socialism by adopting the best parts of the socialist programme (NHS – schools – welfare) to satisfy the “working class.” Now we are faced with 2013 The Future of Employment Frey and Osborne 379 we may be faced with a huge “useless class” both unemployed and unemployable. 43% US jobs at high risk. Virtual world designers and archaeologists are safer. We need new jobs we can perform better than algorithms. Result we have no idea what to teach children. The learning then working model will soon become utterly obsolete. Only continuous learning and re-invention will work. Only some can do this. People must do something or go crazy. Drugs and computer games. What is so sacred about useless bums spending their days devouring artificial experiences in la la land?
Nick Bostrom. Once AI outstrips us it might simply exterminate mankind.
A PROBABILITY OF 87%
We do not know what hidden talents we might discover and tech and political difficulties might slow down the growth in AI
Individualism is based on 3 assumptions. 1. Deep within myself is a clear and single inner voice – my authentic self. 2. This is completely free (to choose) 3. I cannot trust anyone else to make choices for me for no one else can know who I am or what I want.
Life sciences now challenge all of these. 1. Humans are an assemblage of many different algorithms lacking a single inner voice or self. 2 They are not free but shaped by genes and environmental pressures and take decisions either deterministically or randomly. 1 is allied to nationalism for democracy only works when the majority agree on the basics such as the unique communal experiences and culture of groups. If they do not share these, polarisation and conflict bring it down. It follows external algorithms could know me far better than I know myself. A body/brain monitor could know exactly who I am, what I feel and what I want.
This algorithm would “always be right” and beauty in its calculations. The KJB and FBI did not have the computing power to analyse all my data. 21st cent tech may “hack humanity” and learn to know me better than I know myself. This is already happening with health as momentous decisions are taken for us by computer algorithms. Smart phone, watches armbands and underwear.385.Old Age 387. Medicine now can keep us alive long enough for our “authentic selves” to disintegrate and dissolve. Like Jolie the advice they can give is so good it would be madness not to listen to it. See Google activities.
Liberalism sanctifies the narrating self. Once there are systems that know me better, it would be foolhardy to leave authority in hands of the narrating self. It forgets most and remembers the most recent and extreme events. As database grows decisions become more accurate. Liberalism will collapse on the day when the system knows me better than I do myself. Most people do not know themselves well. With 300 Facebook likes it can predict your opinions and desires better than you partner. People may increasingly rely on their computers when it comes to making important life-changing decisions. Careers, partners.
Our personal data our most valuable possession and we are giving it to the tech giant for emails and cat videos.
FROM ORACLE TO SOVEREIGN
When everyone uses the same oracle and believes it , then it becomes sovereign. If Kindle is upgraded with face recognition and biometric sensors it will know what makes you laugh, sad or angry. Books will read you while you read them. Amazon will never forget.
The shift in authority from biological entities to non-organic AI is taking place due to a flood of personal choices. The result could be an Orwellian police state which controls not only the exterior, but what happens in our bodies and brains. The individual is more likely to disintegrate from within, than be brutally crushed from without.
Humans will lose individual authority to be managed by external algorithms. Some will remain indispensable and undecipherable and constitute a privileged elite of upgraded humans. Most will become a dominated caste. By 2016 the 62 richest were worth as much as the entire bottom half of human kind. In the future we may see real gaps opening between health and ability of the creative upper class and the rest of humanity. Already 21st Cent medicine is more for upgrading the healthy than healing the sick.
While the health of the ordinary gets better, the gap between their health and that of the elite will get much greater. The state and the elite may then lose interest with providing the poor with health care for masses of useless poor people. Better to focus on upgrading a handful. We may see a super caste who treat ordinary humans no better than the 19th century treatment of Africans. 408
CH 10 THE OCEAN OF CONSCIOUSNESS P 409
The emerging new religions will come out of Silicon Valley and will be driven by technology. Happiness, peace, prosperity and “eternal life.” will be promised for here on earth. Two versions. Techno-humanism and Data-religion.
Techno-humanists think a re-ordering of our brains could start a second cognitive revolution. P411. We do not know how minds emerge or what their function is. We have only studied the sub-normative and those from the WEIRD cultures. That is from Western Educated Industrialised Rich and Democratic societies (and mainly psychology students! ) These do not cover humanity or the shamans, monks and ascetics who have explored the mysterious lands of mind. Unfamiliar states of supreme tranquillity. Of clarity and of expansion into infinity or dissolving into emptiness. (Here his advanced meditation practice shows.) Many cultures may have fostered mental states now extinct. Neanderthals, wales, bats etc. Positive Psychology has made strides exploring super normative mental states. We have also lost the capacity to take our dreams seriously. Lucid dreaming. Now seen as mental garbage we cannot remember. We may become poorer and shallower.
Techno-humanism sanctifies the human will. Humanism says stick with it and sort out your voices and decide. Biochemical imbalances and neurological diseases are the cause of our depressions and anxieties. Are they?
- 11 P 428 THE DATA RELIGION.
Dataism declares the universe consists of data flows. Value is determined by its contribution to data processing. This view has conquered most sciences. Dataism collapses the barrier between animals and machines. Gives a single overarching theory which links all disciplines from musicology to economics to biology. All animals are simply algorithms. Know this is current scientific dogma. Beehives and economies both seen as data processing systems. Capitalism and Communism are not competing ideologies, but competing data processing systems. Distributive processing vs centralised processing. London has no-one setting the price of bread and no lines up for it. Hayek prices act to co-ordinate the separate acts of different people. Free market most efficient system we have so far created. Capitalism won the cold war because distributive data processing works better.
The internet, AI and data may soon overhaul our economies and democracies act too slowly. Brexit and Trump are symptoms of loss of trust in our systems, but the truth is no-one knows where the power has gone. Putin wishes to rebuild the old Soviet block or the Russian Empire.
Dangerous to put trust in market forces for the market does what is good for the market and is blind to what is good for human kind like tackling climate change or the dangerous potential of artificial intelligence.
The entire human species can be seen as a data processing system moving from HG to Agriculture to cities, armies, gods and empires 1. Growth in processors (population) Variety in processors (specialisations soldier’s priests, lawyers) increased connections through movement and writing. Coinage and empires and the idea of a single network grew. Now global. Free market, rule of law and democracy all have worked to dissolve the barriers. Its product? The Internet of All Things. 444 Information wants to be free. The IAT may spread out beyond humans and AI to pervade the galaxy. Like god everywhere. Kerswell. The Singularity is Near. Commandment 1. Maximise data flow. Link EVERYTHING to the system. The freedom of information is the greatest good of all. Not the same as freedom of expression. The right of info to circulate freely is greater than the right of individuals to own and control it. 2013 Aaron Swarz suicide. See p446. To create a better world we must set the data free. Car system could save hugely if the algorithm knows where I go and has all my info.
Humanist science saw glory for the individual producer. Now ceaseless collaboration of everyone is the key. Wikipedia. The individual is a tiny chip that nobody really understands. No-one understands where global economy or politics is headed. Dataist believe in the invisible hand of data flow. Humanists see our experiences as infusing the universe with meaning. Dataists see experiences as valuable if they are shared. We cannot find meaning just in ourselves. If you experience something, record it. If you record something upload it. If you upload it, share it. Value consists in turning experiences into free flowing data. Not anti-humanists, just does not think experiences are intrinsically valuable.
The vast increase in data flow may soon be beyond the capacity of even upgraded humans. Human imagination is just the product of biochemical algorithms. Feelings are algorithms to help animals make correct decisions. See 456.
Criticisms. We have no idea how data flow could produce consciousness or subjective experiences. Perhaps animals and humans are not algorithms after all. We cannot predict the future for technology is not deterministic. It could produce very different types of societies.
The future, which cannot really be predicted, is overshadowed by 3 interlinked processes.
- Science is converging on a dogma. Organisms are algorithms and life is data-processing.
- Intelligence is decoupling from Consciousness.
- Non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms may soon know us better than we know ourselves.
Key Questions. Are we algorithms? Which is more valuable intelligence or consciousness? What will happen to us if 3 comes true?