Girish Joshi

Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow

4 min read

Sapiens use religion to derive meaning in this chaotic universe. They help us solve dilemma and choose between diverging roads. Babylonians believed in stars. All the important life decisions were based on the orientation of stars. Babylonians loved stargazing.

But, then one day one rebellious kid in one village refused to believe in stars, he said, “Stars lie. God created them, and he created all of us and he wrote all about it in this holy book”.

And that’s how god and scripture based religions were invented. Just like that, humans gave the control of their lives from stars to god. People stopped looking at stars and they started reading holy books instead and started praying to god. Through god they derived the meaning of their life. If the man was suffering, he said to himself, I shall suffer if that’s what god has written for me. If the man had to fight in wars, he said to himself, I shall fight if that’s what god has written for me. If the man had to starve in famines, he said to himself I shall starve if that’s what god has written for me. Because god knows best, after all he created me, and he is somewhere out there looking after me.

But, then one day one rebellious kid in one town refused to believe in god, he said, “God is a fiction created by us humans, we wrote those holy books and we interpreted them to suit ourselves – we are the master of our own souls”.

And that’s how liberalism and free will was invented. Whenever in dilemma follow your inner voice. Everyone agreed that the customer is always right, voters knows the best, and the beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Now humans need not look to stars or read holy books or pray to god when they had to decide whom to marry, what career path to choose, or where to invest their money. They could just listen to their inner voice – their true self. But it wasn’t always easy to listen to what self had to say, and how independent the free will was always remained a question for the skeptic. Humans kept preaching about ways you could learn to listen to your inner voice, ways in which you could get to know yourself – such as watching sunset on a beach, climb mountains, reading a book by Fredrick Backman or Kurt Vonnegut, having an heartfelt conversation with friends, or watching a inspiring movie about following your passion.

But, then one day one rebellious kid in one a city refused to believe in free will and inner voices, he said, “Inner voice is a lie. I have a community of voices inside me, I don’t even know who I am? I would rather rely on Spotify to recommend me good music then listen to my inner voice. I would rather rely on Netflix to recommend me a good show then listen to my inner voice. I would rather rely on a software like Tinder to find who will I marry to. I would rather rely on Google trends to decide my career.”

And that’s how data religion is invented, with its own dogmas and commandments. According to this religion, Sapiens are out dated organic algorithms, and they can be replaced by inorganic intelligence, which may not be conscious at all. Algorithms that know us better than we know ourselves. Algorithms whom we cannot comprehend. Imagine living in world where what you have to do with your time is not the outcome of moment of stars, or will of god, or your inner voice. Rather it is a calculated response to all the data that you had been supplying to the algorithm. And the response actually works for you, it’s no more a placebo or a pseudo faith. Do these algorithms need to be conscious? Not necessary. They just have to give better results.

But, then one day one kid will rebel…………..

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This book – Homo Deus: A Brief History of Mankind ends with three concluding statements, which I’d like to quote here:

1. Science is converging on an all-encompassing dogma, which says that organisms are algorithms, and life is data processing.
2. Intelligence is decoupling from consciousness.
3. Non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms may soon know us better than we know ourselves.

*life in progress*

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