This is how technology corrodes human freedom
We humans are piratable animals.
For now, pirates are limited to analyzing external signals. Liberal democracy faces a double crisis. What most focuses attention is the well-known problem of authoritarian regimes.
But new scientific discoveries and technological developments represent a much deeper challenge to the basic liberal ideal: human freedom. Liberalism has managed to survive, for centuries, many demagogues and autocrats who have tried to strangle freedom from outside.
But so-called liberal democracy has had little experience, until now, with technologies capable of corroding human freedom from within.
To assimilate this new challenge, let’s begin by understanding what liberalism means. In Western political discourse, the term “liberal” is often used in a strictly partisan sense, as opposed to “conservative.”
But many of the so-called conservatives adopt the liberal vision of the world in general. The typical Trump voter would have been considered a radical liberal a century ago, when liberals were real. Here are some aspects where the past is compared to the present: Do you think that people should elect their government instead of blindly obeying a monarch?
Do you think that a person should choose his profession instead of belonging by birth to a caste?
Do you think that a person should choose their spouse instead of marrying whom their parents have decided?
If you answer yes to the three questions, congratulations, you are liberal. Liberalism defends human freedom because it assumes that people are unique entities, different from all other animals.
Unlike rats and monkeys, Homo sapiens, in theory, have free will.
However, the new breed of “liberals” are exactly the opposite and defend government intervention, creation of unlimited laws that curb human freedom, and ratting on everyone who do not obey them. Human feelings and decisions are the highest moral and political authority in the world.
Unfortunately, free will is not a scientific reality. It is a myth that liberalism was inherited from Christian theology.
The theologians elaborated the idea of free will to explain why God does well when he punishes sinners for their bad decisions and rewards the saints for the right decisions. If we do not make our decisions freely, why is God going to punish or reward us?
According to the theologians, it is reasonable that they do so because our decisions are the reflection of the free will of our eternal souls, which are completely independent of any physical and biological limitations.
This myth has little relation to what science tells us about Homo sapiens and other animals. Human beings, without doubt, have a will, but it is not free. I cannot decide what desires I have. I do not decide to be introverted or extroverted, calm or restless, gay or straight.
Human beings make decisions, but they are never independent decisions.
Each of them depends on the biological and social conditions that are beyond our control. I can decide what to eat, whom to marry and whom to vote with, but those decisions depend on my genes, my biochemistry, my sex, my family background, my national culture, etcetera; all of them, elements that I have not chosen.
This is not an abstract theory, but it is easy to observe. Look at the next idea that comes up in your brain. Where did it come from? Has it occurred to you freely?
Of course not. If you observe your mind carefully, you will realize that you have little control over what happens in it and that you do not freely decide what to think, what to feel, or what to want.
Now, however, having faith in free will is dangerous. If governments and companies manage to hack or pirate the human operating system, the easiest people to manipulate will be those who believe in free will.
Three things are needed to pirate human beings: solid knowledge of biology, a lot of data and great computing capacity. Now, it is possible that both companies and governments soon have all three and, when they manage to pirate our brains, not only can they predict our decisions, but also manipulate our feelings.
Whoever believes in the traditional liberal story will be tempted to downplay this problem. “No, that’s never going to happen.
Nobody can predict or manipulate my decisions because my decisions are the reflection of my free will. “
Unfortunately, ignoring the problem is not going to make it go away. It only serves to make us more vulnerable. Naive faith in free will blinds us.
When a person chooses something -a product, a career, a couple, a politician- he is said to be choosing him by his free will. And there is no more to talk about it. Propaganda and manipulation are not new, of course.
Before they acted by means of massive bombings; today, they are, increasingly, high precision ammunition against chosen targets.
Now it is possible to build a tailored message for each of the specific weaknesses of each brain. An algorithm can tell if someone is already predisposed against immigrants, for example.
Some of the brightest minds in the world have spent years investigating how to hack the human brain to make us click on certain ads and sell things.
The best method is to press the buttons of fear, hatred or greed that we carry inside. And that method has started to be used now to sell us politicians and ideologies.
For now, pirates are limited to analyzing external […] Read the rest below at the source link