Post-Individualism

I wrote recently about how individualism has been a cornerstone of western civilization for over 2 centuries now, and how this may be coming under a little bit of fire.

I do not believe individualism is entirely coming to an end, but I do believe that it is about to be downsized as a value in our society. This is often the case with cultural waves, and subsequent over-reacting counterwaves.

But what would a post-individualistic world be like? Individualism sprung from romanticism together with the exaltation of passion, the seed of anti-conformism, and many aspects of our culture that are deeply interconnected, so it’s not a case of shutting down a single value, but rather the interconnected network of values that we call our current culture.

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Private Debt Apocalypse

I like the title… It’s a little apocalyptic, but it conveys the idea. We all know about public debt, a constant reminder of how many countries have been living beyond their means for decades now. I am not talking about public debt tho, I am considering private debt, and specifically the debt of individuals, as opposed that of companies.

When we say that many people in western countries live beyond their means, at an individual level means that each person has an average debt of several thousand euro / dollars. For many a large portion of it constitutes their mortgage, but also student debt, and even just the credit card debts account in average for several thousand dollars/euro.

If you google today “unemployment rate  2030” you will find wildly ranging estimates, only rarely they are lower than 30% tho.

When you have hundreds of millions of unemployed people being unable to repay their debt, you may as well call that a private debt apocalypse.

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Supernatural Matter and Socrates

I found recently that scientists estimate at least 90% of our universe is made of dark matter and energy: invisible, untouchable, undetectable.

How can we claim to know much about our universe, when over 90% is entirely beyond our comprehension? For all we know dark matter might have supernatural properties beyond our imagination, and yet, we have a condescending approach to anything that cannot be scientifically explained.

Don’t get me wrong: I am a strong believer in the scientific method and the burden of proof does belong to supporters of new theories if we don’t want to be stuck in a Flying Spaghetti Monster paradox, where the burden of proof is on the skeptics!

Yet, our inability to even perceive or interact with over 90% of our universe dwarfs every piece of knowledge we have -or even just think to have- about it.

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Neonomadism

I get to read from time to time about these hippy digital nomads that seem to be living the best life from some tropical beach. Rarely you get to bring the topic to a conversation and not see the distinctive look of jealousy appearing on someone’s face: tropical life, away from everyday traffic, commute and stress, flexible working hours… what’s not to like?

On the other hand, while this may sound like a dream-life, there are still many good reasons that keep us attached to our “homes”: not just our actual home, but our belongings, the nearby places we cherish like the local church, library or mall, our loved ones, and of course our jobs.

When you think of it this way, it is amusing what we call digital nomads: they only became such by making their home a digital place… it is actually their digital sedentism that enables them to be physical nomads!

The fact is: we are all digital migrants in the process of getting there… they are just a little ahead of the curve!

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Meta A.I.

We are used to think of AI as a futuristic technology from sci-fi movies, and at the same time we hear about AI being integrated more and more into our real world tools and devices.
It is pretty clear those two AI are not the same thing, in fact:

  • Narrow AI is real, it’s here today and is a non-sentient and single-purpose form of AI.
  • Wide, or General AI is not real or not yet real: at this point in time it only exists in sci-fi literature. It is normally described as multi-purpose, sentient, and often self-aware.

The idea of singularity, is normally associated with General AI, however I previously proposed the concept of microsingularity, as essentially a form of singularity that is related to a specific narrow AI.

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Hyperhumanity and time

Most of us live a symbiotic relationship with our mobile phones: it would be in many way a brain enhancer, but the data flow has a terribly slow bottleneck: our senses.
We use hand movements to provide an input to the device, and vision to acquire the output of our requests: typically reading.

Cutting out the middle man -our senses- would make for a portable computer that acquires inputs from our thoughts and returns information directly in the short term memory of our brains.

Scientists around the world are working on what is called a brain-computer interface, aiming to cut out the middle man -our senses- and ultimately developing a super-portable computer that acquires inputs from our thoughts and returns information directly into our brains.

This fascinating technology is at the very early stages of research, and it has the potential to open humanity to an unprecedented range of possibilities:

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Individualism

Romanticism was a cultural movement that gained momentum towards the end of the 1700s in Europe, and is still far from being a concept of the past: whenever you describe a “romantic” sunset or movie, you are the living proof that Romanticism and its focus on emotions has influenced our culture to this very day.
Another strong focus of romanticism was individualism: starting from Beethoven and continuing to me and you, individualism kept growing stronger and gained the status of cornerstone of western culture.

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Multisingularity

We describe as singularity the moment when A.I. will outperform human intelligence. The concept is of strong significance because if human intelligence is capable of creating A.I., anything that outperforms human intelligence should by definition be able to improve A.I., and this would cause an iterative chain effect that will bring A.I. to a demigod-like status in a relatively short time.

There is one catch tho: to define outperformance, or improvement over something, we should be capable of measuring and comparing it first. I am not really wondering if we are, I am arguing -instead- that it is completely impossible.

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