Homo Deus Part 2: counterproposal

Yes, I agree with Prof. Harari that the human race must seek to become divine (see my previous post, a review of his book). Like him, I also think that the key lies in developing our power. But unlike him, I do not see that happen in this world, with its dangerous imbalances, and I don’t think technology (like increasing the life span of humans) is going to play such an important role.

If the evolution of the human race may be compared to that of an individual, we would now be in the teenager phase. We are in the process of becoming conscious of our individuality, in the process knocking our parents (imaginary: God, Gods or Mother Nature) from their pedestal. As acne-scarred teenagers we care little about the environment and engage in violent schoolyard fights. At times we’re suicidal, at others we’re conceited and over-confident.

Image result for the magician

We must now transition to the adulthood phase, before we utterly destroy our environment and ourselves in the process. We need a new pact to regulate human society, based on the consciousness of being all together on this planet with its finite resources. 

What should our goal be? Growth of course, but no longer material (we’re big and fat enough). We need to develop spiritually. We must learn how to unleash the power that we now know resides in mere atoms, and how to control matter with our consciousness. Not by some sophisticated AI as Yuval Harari would have it, for artificial intelligence cannot evolve beyond human intelligence . It’s a lazy fantasy to imagine that computer systems could go beyond our current level of consciousness by some kind of self-learning algorithm. The computer (or AI) can only execute and even improve our envisioned actions, but not imagine new ones.

For example, we could become magicians, transport ourselves through the universe by bending it with our mind. We could harness the energy present in our fingertips, and that of the sun for our collective needs. We must continue learning about ourselves to unlock these powers within. To start with, we must admit our current stupidity, instead of boasting about the few tricks we’ve learnt.

Yes, we have come a long way from the hunter-gatherer phase, when we were not yet at the pinnacle of the animal kingdom. But that’s nothing compared to the way still ahead of us. It’s time to start nurturing our natural environment, understanding it’s the garden we will live in on Earth, instead of plundering it to make new gadgets, to give us an edge over our fellow-humans.

Human society can only be organised as one organism, wherein each human plays its unique individual part, and we must strive to make it healthy (it is currently quite sick). All parts of that organism, and the environment it exists in, must be in balance. A molecule operating complex activities in the brain is not intrinsically worth more than one growing toe-nail. All humans have equal rights in principle. To achieve this in practice, power can no longer be concentrated and fixed in power structures with controlled access. Power must revert from the collective to the individual human, who must learn to develop its own power in order to better play its part in the body collective.

Some steps to take

A necessary step is to get rid of state structures and all other forms of collective organisation that subject the individual to an external power. This includes religions, bureaucracy, finance and the ‘monopoly of violence’ currently sustaining law and order. Each human individual can regroup in a community of its choosing, defined either geographically or by experience (for example a professional community, or one of transnational friends). The relations between individuals in this community must be defined by themselves, but they must be based on the principle of equality. Participation in community life must be, in addition, optional. Free particles, not part of any community, are also of essence in a healthy organism.

Relations between these communities, which organise collective affairs of increasing scale, must be similar to relations within communities: based on the principles of voluntary participation, achieving collective goals and non-delegation of power. If an individual earns the trust of its community, or a community of communities, as a leader, it is free to provide leadership; but this can never be fixed in any kind of structure. The day this individual loses the trust of its communities as a leader, its leadership is naturally revoked. Similarly, an organiser, a carer, an artist, a gardener or a material producer can only function by grace of a community.

Although one may fear that such a system may lead to chaos, practice shows that the ability to self-organise is still deeply ingrained in the human being. Flows between continents and complex production systems may be disrupted in the short term, but they need to be profoundly reorganised anyhow, to become less destructive and more equal. Doctors would self-organise with other professional groups to keep health systems running, cities and transport workers/infrastructure suppliers could keep vital infrastructure running, volunteers with access to servers and IT knowledge would keep the internet up. Justice, Law and Order are often excellently organised by the community. The experience of the 1.2 million inhabitants of the Syrian region of Rojava is instructive in that regard: local communities have even developed their own household oil refineries to supply their vehicles with gas (see my report on Rojava here),

In Rojava an anti-patriarchal social revolution is taking place, and each leadership position is shared by a man and a woman, besides there being social organisations such as universities dedicated solely to the advancement of women. This measure may be necessary in many other societies.

Money, which seems to bind us to the current economy, may be less of a problem than anticipated. As we know, money is a fiction that we agree to believe in. The day we develop another system of exchange among individuals and collectives, based for example on the worth of an individual’s contribution to the human organism (and its environment), we can simply stop using money and switch to the new currency. Then all the 1s and 0s that signify that one person is very wealthy while another has nothing will abruptly lose their meaning.

Weapons – all artefacts primarily designed to injure other life forms – should be proscribed, as a matter of principle, because they are no longer necessary in a unified world, where all significant threats from other life forms have already been neutralised. We could even stop killing mosquitoes and spraying weeds, and learn to deal with them in a more grown-up way.

The existing stockpiles of weapons and those who control them may be a threat in the transition phase and may seriously wound the human organism, as those that detain this power may be convinced that the proposed evolution is bad for their interests. But fear of death or pain should no longer paralyse us; we must be confident that the organism, in which we all play our part, will be able to survive such an onslaught. Also, in the future some communities might seek to destroy communities around them, similar to a cancer, but again the human organism must learn how to deal with such threats and get over them. That’s part of the process of growth.

Admitted, the transition phase will be a leap in the dark, which will only take effect when sufficient numbers of people have made it, switching to an as yet untested form of collective organisation, which they will need to develop themselves. (Appropriate Music)

Are you ready?


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