Notes philosophy politics

Chapter 9: The Great Decoupling (Homo Deus)

Liberals promote free markets and democratic elections because they believe that individuals are unique and valuable, who’s free choices are the source of authority. In this century, we will see three practical developments that will nullify this belief.

1. Humans will lose military and economic usefulness. The economic and political system will not value them so much.

2. The system will find humans collectively valuable but will see no value in individuals.

3. The system will find value in some individuals, but they will be a new elite of superhumans.

Until today, intelligence and consciousness have gone hand in hand. Now we are developing non-conscious intelligence that outperforms conscious beings in tasks that require intelligence. The question becomes: what is more important, consciousness or intelligence?

For armies and companies, intelligence is mandatory, but consciousness is optional.

Most professionals, including doctors and pharmacists, will be replaced by AI.

‘The Future of Employment’ is a published paper in 2013 that surveys the chances of different jobs being replaced by algorithms within 20 years.

The algorithm developed by Frey and Osborne to do the calculations estimated that 47 per cent of US jobs are at high risk.

Jobs like waiters, paralegal assistants, tour guides, bakers, bus drivers, construction laborers, veterinary assistants, security guards, and sailors have a high likelihood of losing their jobs (above 80 percent).

As algorithms take over many aspects of human life, the system may still need humans, but not necessarily individuals. Humans can continue to invest money, make music, and teach, but the system will understand them better than they understand themselves, and will make their most important decisions for them. Individuals will lose freedom and authority.

The liberal belief in individualism contains 3 important assumptions.

1. I am an in-dividual: I have an essence that cannot be divided into parts. There are many outer layers, but inside, there is an unchanging core, an authentic self.

2. My authentic self is free.

3. From these assumptions, I can conclude that I know things about me that nobody else can know. Only I know my authentic self. I cannot trust anyone else to make choices for me, because they don’t have access to my self-knowledge.

But life sciences challenge these assumptions.

1. Organisms are algorithms, and humans aren’t individuals – we are dividual and contain no single inner voice.

2. The algorithms that constitute humans are not free. They were shaped biologically and environmentally and make decisions randomly or deterministically but never freely.

3. Thus an external algorithm can know me better than I know myself. An algorithm that monitors the systems that make up my body can know me much more precisely than I do. This algorithm can eventually replace the customer and the voter.

If scientific discoveries and technological developments split humankind into a mass of useless humans and a small elite of upgraded superhumans, or if authority shifts altogether away from human beings into the hands of highly intelligent algorithms, then liberalism will collapse.

Read Homo Deus

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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