Jan Lopusek

@janlopusek

Thinking for the 21st century

The revolution is happening right now. Alongside rapid technological progress a new type of thinking is being developed. We should update our knowledge and worldview to current challenges.

I came across few brilliant thinkers recently and I would love to share it with you and put some global topics into personal perspective.

Picture of professor Harari, kindly stolen from his website https://www.ynharari.com/about/. Thanks)

If there was just one book you would want to read, pick the Sapiens: The history of human kind, written by Yuval Noah Harari. He is a phenomenon of the 21st century thinking. I’m pretty sure, you would love to continue reading his next book Homo Deus and the 21 lessons for the 21st century. Watch his mind blowing talk at Davos forum to get a glimpse of Yuval’s brilliancy:

“Who controls the past (data) controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” — 1984 George Orwell ((youtube comment below video))

As Yuval describes in his books, not just that we are programmable organisms — algorithms, but we are being programmed as we speak. Due to immense data gathering a new sources of power are emerging from the virtual clouds. Soon, the algorithms will know us better than ourselves. Hence, the humanistic authority deriving from within ourselves will vanish. Currently, the capitalism is based on the premise, that the customer knows the best and he/she buys the products based on inner desires. If a product is not being bought, it’s not a good product and the customer’s free will is the ultimate source of truth. Same with democracy. The voter and only the voter knows, who to pick in the elections and no one has the authority to say it instead of me. I am the source of political authority with my vote. The ultimate source of authority in humanism is the inner self.

This principle is threaten by data oligarchies. An algorithm, which can remember everything about me perfectly and one day might know my emotional state perfectly, can make better decisions than me. The first application of AI at scale is e-commerce. We all love the algorithm Amazon book store is providing us. They offer me just good stuff. What if the algorithm will know me better in unexpected areas such my emotions, sexual orientation, desires, goals, political opinions? What if the algorithm will always chose better for me than I would do myself? And what if someone else controls this knowledge, can they hack me, manipulate me into some unwanted behavior?

We have seen it already being misused. Cambridge Analytica is a modern warfare of the propagandistic machinery that manipulated election at massive scale, in numerous states. If Joseph Goebbles lived today, he would love this shit!

If case you want to dive deep into AI discussion, I recommend this article:

There is no better man to explain you the short term dopamine feedback loop than one of the earliest member of Facebook Chamath Palihapitiya. As a Hackernoon reader, this talk is a must for you:

After seeing the talk, I’ve deleted my Facebook account in January. No regrets so far. Maybe you would consider another approach to the social networks, such minimal usage. But first of all, it’s not healthy for your dopamine production and mental health. Second, by participating individually you support the collective problem of side effects.

On top of that, you might want to consider not watching porn again after seeing this video(:

Modern era accelerates in all areas of thinking. No matter what your profession is, I bet you are being flooded with numerous content from all sides on topics you are interested in.

In this vast ocean of information flow it’s hard not to lose focus on things that really matter, ask the deep questions and stay healthy and happy.

What is the conclusion here?

I don’t have a good answer. But I’ve created some principles that work for me and everybody should find her-his own way.

  1. Know thyself

The best way how to protect myself from the various temptations of consumerism is to delete social networks, or not use them often. I also stopped buying useless shit I don’t need. I don’t need the newest, most fancy clothes, electronics and gadgets. I also eat modestly, don’t eat meat and try to avoid fast foods. I don’t post my personal life, I try to live it. I practise yoga to keep my mind calm, I go for long runs to meditate even more. The result of all this is a quiet mind, capable of critically thinking and lot of time for reading and learning new skills.

2. Know what you work for

Your job is not only a source of money to survive. Your energy transforms into results of your company’s activities. If you realise, that you participate on activities supporting deviations, such compulsive consumerism, or other negative side effects, decide to quit. It might take a while to re-arrange things. But once you realise it, focus on some new skill you need to learn and go after it, until such skill can bring you a new, positively oriented job.

3. Know what’s going on in the world

Just keep on reading and following these guys above. Do not pay for Netflix that puts you in vegetative state, but rather support TED Talks and watch, read, listen…

I hope this will inspire some of you.

Jan

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