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January 17, 2023

What is Technological Humanism?

We could define Technological Humanism as the merging of technology and humans. It was Yuval Noah Harari, historian, philosopher and author of books such as "Sapiens, a Brief History of Humankind", "Homo Deus" and "21 lessons for the 21st century", who coined the most commonly used definition: "Techno-humanism aims to amplify the power of humans, creating cyborgs and connecting humans to computers, but it still sees human interests and desires as the highest authority in the universe".

The transformation of Technological Humanism

It is precisely in his book Homo Deus where Yuval Noah Harari unravels humanism and paints a possible future based on what he calls "Dataism". In other words, algorithms, while not conscious, are highly intelligent, meaning they could soon know us better than we know ourselves. In his book, this philosopher raises questions about who will win, whether man or machine, in this world dominated by data and how Technological Humanism can transform leadership and its development.

In other words, under the umbrella of Technological Humanism, we find the idea that technology is so integrated into society and the world that it becomes part of our greater intelligence and allows us to live longer and better.

This is made possible thanks to the popularisation of many different technologies, such as the Internet, cloud computing and Big Data. Just as smartphones today allow everyone to have answers at their fingertips, in the future we will have even more sensors on different devices (including our own body) that will be able to detect the onset of serious diseases at a point when they can be eradicated immediately.

According to the vision of technological humanism, humans will be intrinsically linked to technology from their birth. This doesn't mean that we will all be cyborgs or biohackers (people who have integrated or implanted chips and other electronic devices into their bodies), but our entire life will be determined by the sensors that surround us, both personally and as a society. Although the feasibility of these approaches is still in the exploration and validation phase, there are more tangible techno-humanist examples right now, from artificial joints and cartilage to automatic insulin pumps for diabetics.

Currents of Technological Humanism

In many cases, Technological Humanism focuses on creating superhumans; in other words, on the possibilities of using technology to improve a person internally and make them stronger, faster and longer-lived. According to this view, while the Cognitive Revolution caused small changes in the minds of Homo sapiens more than 70,000 years ago, transforming them from African apes to the dominant force on the planet, we are now witnessing another transformation of humanity, this time using technology to make the adjustments and changes.

As a philosophy, this Technological Humanism also exhibits certain currents or theories.

One of them is what we might call soft technological determinism. This train of thought says that technology always helps people. At the other extreme are those who believe in hard technological determinism. This vision holds that technology ends up controlling society.

The fear that this could happen is one of the reasons why some advocate for including a more humanist approach in every branch of science and technology in order for today's society is to advance.

The power of information

Remember that it is normally large corporations such as Facebook, Google, Amazon and Twitter that have in their possession millions of data points on everything that people do in their daily lives. Once this data is processed, these companies can perfectly know what we do, think and feel.

The ability to track all our movements, in both the physical and virtual world, as well as our reactions, gives them real power to not only sell us legitimate products or services, but also to incite our emotions and help us with the decisions we make every day.

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