Ever since Thales, philosophers have speculated on the basic substance of the universe. According to Max Tegmark, a physicist at MIT, the universe is a mathematical structure “just like a cube, or a tetrahedron” and is “entirely described by numbers and maths, just as a video game is encoded.” (Icke, Phantom Self, p. 44) To be sure, the Tech giants have moved into our minds and lives. Data driven technocracy drives politics. Ray Kurzweil talks about the Singularity. But as mere humans hope to meld with machines, transhumanism may become the prevailing religion: control over our evolution and nature, ever increasing knowledge, and lifespans approaching immortality. Hybrid humans becoming gods by mastering the code of the Universe!
I recently watched “Brexit” on Netflix. Excellent movie. Benedict Cumberbatch was charged with running the campaign to remove Britain from the EU by persuading a majority to vote “Leave” in the upcoming referendum. In the early stages of the campaign he met with a man on a park bench. The man represented a secretive data analysis company. He assured Benedict that the power of data could reach into people’s lives to the extent that they could predict when a man would break up with his girlfriend. They had already found millions of “Leave” voters who were off the grid, Their ads would persuade millions more. He represented the future of politics. Benedict looked around and saw, as we all have, that everyone in the park was glued to their phones. Our lives were an open book. Need we say how much more Amazon knows about us?
Human being are not natural objects. Flowers have a nature, birds have a nature. My toilet has a nature, but I don’t. Our subjectivity is out of reach of algorithmic description. We are biography, not biology. Senor Jose Ortega y Gasset, the Socrates of Spain during the 30’s and 40’s, tried hard in his writings to describe authentic human reality in contradistinction to the natural order, the video game. In the face of The Information, we can easily allow ourselves to become passive and deny our reality. I hope to show that Ortega had a lot to say about this. Please stay tuned.