Very interesting article I recently read suggested by Guilherme Salgado, I guess the free will debate on the main chat was still in my head.
Here are some highlights:
- Free will isn't scientific reality. It's a myth inherited from Christian theology. - Why? Because if our choices aren't made freely, why should God punish or reward us for them? - Science: humans certainly have will, but it isn't free. You cannot decide what desires you have. - Humans sure make choices, but they're never independent choices. Every choice depends on biology, society, personal factors... - I can choose who to marry, whom to vote for, what to eat, but these choices are in part influenced by genes, biochemistry, gender, family, culture, etc – and I didn't choose what genes or family to have. - In the future, those who believe in "free will", will be the easiest ones to manipulate. - Corporations and governments are hacking the human animal. They only need to know us better than we know ourselves to manipulates us, and that's easy because people don't know themselves. - So, we need to know ourselves better. - People sometimes imagine that if we renounce our belief in “free will”, we will become completely apathetic, and just curl up in some corner and starve to death. In fact, renouncing this illusion can have two opposite effects: first, it can create a far stronger link with the rest of the world, and make you more attentive to your environment and to the needs and wishes of others. It is like when you have a conversation with someone. If you focus on what you want to say, you hardly really listen. - Second, renouncing the myth of free will can kindle a profound curiosity. If you strongly identify with the thoughts and desires that emerge in your mind, you don’t need to make much effort to get to know yourself. You think you already know exactly who you are. But once you realise “Hi, this isn’t me. This is just some changing biochemical phenomenon!” then you also realise you have no idea who – or what – you actually are. This can be the beginning of the most exciting journey of discovery any human can undertake. - The most interesting questions humanity faces: How does liberal democracy function in an era when governments and corporations can hack humans? What’s left of the beliefs that “the voter knows best” and “the customer is always right”? How do you live when you realise that you are a hackable animal, that your heart might be a government agent, that your amygdala might be working for Putin, and that the next thought that emerges in your mind might well be the result of some algorithm that knows you better than you know yourself? - So what to do? We need to fight on two fronts simultaneously. We should defend liberal democracy, not only because it has proved to be a more benign form of government than any of its alternatives, but also because it places the fewest limitations on debating the future of humanity. At the same time, we need to question the traditional assumptions of liberalism, and develop a new political project that is better in line with the scientific realities and technological powers of the 21st century. - Autocrats who plan to rule in perpetuity don’t like to encourage the birth of ideas that might displace them. But liberal democracies inspire the creation of new visions, even at the price of questioning their own foundations.