Dataist vs Humanists

March 2019

Internal vs External

A large part of my time these days is spent contemplating where society is heading and if anything can be done to direct the outcome. The biggest question is whether the majority of people believe in the that meaning is derived internally (humanist) or externally (dataist). Which one we believe could have drastic implications over the next few decades given the growth in AI and centralization of data collection.

Humanists believe that experiences only occur internally in our minds, such that meaning is derived from within. They pursue new experiences in order to gain more enlightened forms of consciousness in an attempt to reach internal bliss. All that is needed for them to find meaning is found within. Dataists, on the other hand, believe that experiences have no meaning unless they are shared with an external entity. They pursue new experiences for the sake of sharing it with as many people as possible. They believe there is no point in doing anything if no one else sees it, because they can not derive meaning from it alone.

I’ve been a humanist for a long time, but after looking at the progression of social technology I believe there is a strong case to be made that the majority of humanity is leaning dataist, whether aware of it or not. Over the past 20 years, we've seen a rise in technologies that grow stronger as we share more information with them. They create a subtle incentivization to share ever-increasing amounts of information and offer short term benefits to continue doing so. Eventually, these systems grow so intelligent that they know us better than we know ourselves, and we begin to rely on them for everyday tasks that we used to call free will.

The Macro View

I believe there is a hefty long term cost to these short term benefits. Freedom is by definition, our ability to make our own decisions. But if we are outsourcing piece by piece our decisions, then technically we are giving up our freedom in exchange for these benefits. It's not unimaginable to see a system can make better decisions for us, than we could make on our own. in all aspects of our life (i.e. what to do for work, who to marry, where to live) would we even make our own decisions when we know there is a better option that we didn't individually 'decide'? If survival of the fittest strongly favors those who use the system to make their decisions, doesn't sharing all of your information become a matter of survival and the only way to provide value in the world?

If we architected animal farms trap animals into a system which is created to grow human intelligence at the cost of animal freedom, is it not possible that we end up in a similar system that is architected to grow a higher intelligence? Why would this higher intelligence be any different than us if it is derived from our own collective intelligence? Just like farmers spend less energy herding dumb sheep, the system would benefit from the dumbing of the human race so it can focus on 'more important' tasks.

So why on Earth are we doing this to ourselves? Or am I missing something here... Perhaps this is an inevitable part of life, and humans once again will need to realize that they are not the center of the universe. But the question I pose to you: Which life view do you think is correct, and for the dataist out there - does any of this make you want to accept a more humanist view or are you still sure it is the right path forward?