What is the way we want to be devoting our very limited choice-making capacity in a time of urgent challenges and when if we just let the past dictate the future, we’re screwed? I think to your point about we’ve always had this sort of manipulative nudging-like environment. I think the analogy here is for geoengineering. People say, “Oh my God, wait. We shouldn’t geoengineer.” I agree there’s huge risks and unintended consequences of the geoengineering. It’s not like we’re not geoengineering right now. We’re geoengineering ourselves towards catastrophe with climate change. We already have godlike technology or we are already gods. We might as well get good at it. If we’re geoengineering towards catastrophe, we might as well get conscious about our geoengineering and not do the self-destructive thing and see ourselves away from climate change.
When it comes to technology, if we are already reverse engineering the human psyche and getting certain outcomes and doing that in a way that leads to disempowerment, to mass social isolation, to teen mental health issues, to outrage-ification, to everyone wanting to become a celebrity, to election engineering. These are all sub-phenomena of an increasing ability to reverse engineer the human psyche. We’re using it in a way that is leading towards catastrophe. We are now forced to become morally aware of where we want this to go. And that’s an uncomfortable reality to be in because suddenly now we have to decide.
We must acknowledge we are already acting like gods over nature and ourselves. But we are acting as bad gods with terrible consequences. We need to turn ourselves into good gods with a huge responsability.