The Turing Machine Speaks

Harari thinks that rights are fictions—that all moral claims are fictions. But fictions have power, he says, and this is especially true of the fictions propagated in the name of religion

Harari believes that a new religion is arising from the wreck of humanism. He calls it “dataism.” As we develop forms of artificial intelligence that do not merely take over our cognitive abilities but enhance them beyond our grasp, we will rapidly find ourselves marginalized, our distinctively human capacities no longer useful for running the great machine that we set in motion by accident when Alan Turing gave us his definition of the mind. A machine has a mind, Turing maintained, if it responds to human questioning exactly as a human would. For Harari, “Once the Internet-of-All-Things is up and running, humans might be reduced from engineers to chips, then to data, and eventually we might dissolve within the torrent of data like a clump of earth within a gushing river.”

In a breezy appendix to his two large studies of our species — 21 Lessons for the 21st Century — Harari extrapolates into the future world of robots, big data, bionic enhancement, and transhuman capacities, awakening his readers’ anxieties at the prospect of a world that we no longer control. This appendix adds little to the picture offered in the two previous volumes, but it does contain a blunt statement of Harari’s reductionism. He believes that the liberal enlightenment was the best replacement for the old superstitions and oppressions of the religious worldview but that liberalism has run its course. Its assumptions about human nature have been refuted, and its optimism is no longer believable.

Read More at City Journal

Read the rest at City Journal