Tonight I forgot to stop at my place’s subway station because I was finishing to read an incredible book… Recently, in an attempt to try to understand the world that is coming, I read many books about artificial intelligence (AI), but none of them was as interesting as Homo Deus, written by Yuval Noah Harari.
Until today, I thought that I only had two religions : oolong tea and humanism. And I discovered that actually, I was also devoted to a new religion : dataïsm. Not dadaïsm, dataïsm (the worship of data). A simple proof ? I am writing this now in order to share it with you. And tomorrow, or even tonight before I go to sleep, I will have a look at FB, to see how many “likes” I will get. No doubt, this is a testimony that I already fell into dataïsm.
In my life, I read so many great books that changed my views of the world, but I never read a book like Homo Deus, which could actually make me realize that I did not know much about the world that I am living in. At 36 years old, I feel like a baby just born, thrown into a world that is already there and that you can’t help but accept without having the opportunity to reflect on it. I rediscovered everything (almost “Born Again” like George W. Bush ! sorry for the bad joke).
Recently, I had the impression that the world is reaching a turning point, but I did not know what we were heading for. Now I have a clearer idea, and it hurts. It is the beginning of the end of Homo Sapiens. And not the way I thought. Not by an external force, not imposed by a group of transhumanists led by Kurzweil, nor because of the stupidity of “the other people”. I am myself (and you too) also participating in the disappearance of liberalism, democracy and Homo Sapiens.The threat does not come from outside, but we will disintegrate from inside (I let you read the book by yourself if you want to understand).
Well, the end of Homo Sapiens may give some rest to this planet that suffers a lot because of us. So it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it’s a shock to realize that humans are not the apex in this world. Tonight, I feel like… I feel like an algorithm. And I’m not kidding. The only difference between me and an algorithm is that I suffer, the algorithm doesn’t. But soon, this difference in consciousness will not matter anymore. We will value mathematic intelligence more than consciousness.
I don’t even feel like listening to music to heal myself… which means that I am sick and it is really serious. And unfortunately, I don’t have Rattana or chocolate at home tonight to help me to cope with this terrible moment.
This book did not kill all my illusions though. I was born in a world where freedom still meant something. And knowledge is the first step towards freedom. On the one hand, the thirst for knowledge is what led us to the present evolution. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but if you read the book, you will understand. On the other hand, I can’t help but continuing to believe in freedom, and to walk on freedom’s path is to try to understand and to face the truth. This means suffering. If you search for freedom, you are going to suffer. And not so many people prefer suffering to the relatively easier life of voluntary servitude.
There are still some crazy people like me in this world who love freedom. And we must admit that it is us, freedom-loving people, that led the world to where it is heading now.
But what about the new generations ? We are more and more offering them a world where freedom is not the highest value. It has been replaced by efficiency. After all, freedom is an illusion. Efficiency matters. And what makes the world more and more efficient ? Data. I can’t imagine how it is to be born now, in 2017, in this present world. When I was born, Internet did not exist. When I was in highschool, we were so amazed to try to connect to a website, and it took about half an hour ! We have gone a long way since then. Only in a couple of years.
Now, I want to f… Facebook, Google, and the new system of belief, new Big Brother and new God that are taking shape beyond. Yet, the world is not black and white. This evolution is neither good nor bad. It is a fact, and new babies are born everyday. If you ask me now : should we close our FB accounts ? should we stop searching on Google ? I would say no (anyway, how could we ?). What hurts me is not FB or Google, it is that we don’t have any choice, and we even don’t realize it. If you are not connected, you are out. It’s like the first, second and third industrial revolutions. It begins somewhere and the whole world follows, sacrificing the weakest ones. The difference with the 4th revolution is that now we are not only replacing our tools or bodies, but our brains.
I feel totally powerless, trapped in this world that we, Homo Sapiens, and especially humanists like me created. Yet, this evolution, if we don’t reflect seriously on it, can lead us to extinction. I suffered a lot while reading this book, but I also would like to thank the author for having broadened my horizon. After all, consciousness is the only thing that humans will have left compared with algorithms in a few decades. And now, I am more conscious than before.
I also would like to thank the French publishers for being so slow in translating the book that I had to read it in English. After 400 pages, I feel like I am fluent in English now. I would like to learn Japanese as quick as that, but it’s a bit more tricky… My Taiwanese friends are lucky (as usual, Taiwan is far from perfect but is certainly the closest place to my paradise) because the book Homo Deus has already been translated in Taiwan (I don’t know whether it was well translated though).
If you want to take your time and suffer incrementally, read Homo Sapiens first, then Homo Deus. If you want to jump into the black hole directly, you just need to read Homo Deus. But beware : it is only for true freedom lovers, otherwise, you will regret it.