Why Does Silicon Valley Want to Reengineer Humans?

To many developers and investors in Silicon Valley, humans are not to be emulated or celebrated, but transcended or, at the very least, reengineered. These technologists are so dominated by the values of the digital revolution that they see anything or anyone with different priorities as an impediment. This is a distinctly antihuman position, and it’s driving the development philosophy of the most capitalized companies on the planet.

In their view, evolution is less the story of life than of data. Information has been striving for greater complexity since the beginning of time. Atoms became molecules; molecules became proteins; proteins became cells, organisms, and, eventually, humans. Each stage represents a leap in the ability to store and express information.

Now that we humans have developed computers and networks, we are supposed to accept the fact that we’ve made something capable of greater complexity than ourselves. Information’s journey to higher levels of dimensionality must carry on beyond biology and humans to silicon and computers. And once that happens, once digital networks become the home for reality’s most complex structures, then human beings will really be needed only insofar as we can keep the lights on for the machines. Once our digital progeny can care for themselves, we may as well exit the picture.

This is the true meaning of the “singularity”: It’s the moment when computers make humans obsolete. At that point, we humans will face a stark choice: Either we enhance ourselves with chips, nanotechnology, and genetic engineering to keep up with our digital superiors, or we upload our brains to the network. If we go the enhancement route, we must accept that whatever it means to be human is itself a moving target. We must also believe that the companies providing us with these upgrades will be our trustworthy partners — that they wouldn’t remotely modify equipment we’ve installed into ourselves, or change the terms of service, or engineer incompatibility with other companies’ enhancements or planned obsolescence. Given the track record of today’s tech companies, that’s not a good bet. Plus, once we accept that every new technology has a set of values that goes along with it, we understand that we can’t incorporate something into ourselves without also installing its affordances. In the current environment, that means implanting extractive, growth-based capitalism into our bloodstreams and nervous systems. Read more via Medium