Technology as religion: “We sell our souls with faith in data”

The son of a minister, Hans Bosstra (1982) was raised in a world steeped in religion. While studying, he said goodbye to faith, but that did not lead to cruel atheism. “I’ve never felt comfortable with that materialistic worldview, a cold, lifeless story. I’ve always been looking for some form of meaning.” For his new documentary VPRO Backlight Technology as a religion Bosstra talks to people who, he says, are finding a new belief in materialism and technology: data.

What is “data”?

“The idea that the entire reality can be captured in the data. Evolutionary processes can then be reduced to an information process, which can also be captured in an algorithm. This may be complicated, for example in the human brain, but in principle everything can be reduced to operations Data. This makes data the most important building block of reality. “

What is the equivalent of your childhood religion that you see?

“Where Christianity used to do this, for example, we are now living in a time when data tells a comprehensive story about our reality, and it has also institutionalized that in part with the big tech companies we all communicate with. The idea that all forms of life can be captured in Data, including the human mind, is not a difficult science; this is an article of faith, something you wish for. Few people are aware of this. The fear is that many people with such thoughts have so much power and influence.

Materialism saved the world by saying that God does not exist. This creates a major crisis of meaning in the West, just look at the depression and emptiness that accompanies such a view of the world. What I find ironic is that we’re now trying to revitalize the world again with the same materialism. We seem to be religious beings and those religious aspirations are looking for a path – now reflected in technology. “

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Is it not an ideology?

“The two are very close to each other. Where I find it religious is the metaphysical idea that we can live forever in the cloud by uploading your consciousness. I think this fits more with religion. At the same time, the ultimate form of capitalism is for your most private data to be marketed.” .

“The ironic definition of faith is that you invent a story to legitimize your power. This is the case now: Those in power are the ones who master and understand those technologies. They say everything is data, that science confirms this and that with this data we can achieve the best possible order for society.” … by doing so we sell our souls, because in that philosophy there is no place for anything other than material. “

James Lovelock (101) stated in the broadcast that there is not much difference between the DNA and the data on the chips. Have you found any evidence of machines that develop consciousness?

“Because we don’t know what awareness exactly is, you can’t aggressively test the next Lovelock. So the guesswork remains. I personally believe that when technology is conscious, it is fundamentally different from our consciousness. What Lovelock really said is the idea that you can control this matter and control it.” It is really an illusion. “

Roger Penrose (89) stated that the term “artificial intelligence” is incorrect. Artificial intelligence is better because AI does not understand.

Penrose shows this in broadcast with the example of a chess computer. Such a computer can very quickly gain a lot of experience, but it does not understand itself like us. If you then surprise him with a chess set he doesn’t know, he can’t do anything with it – humans can. So if you define intelligence as “understanding,” it is really not a well-chosen term.

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Do you still think that you will reach a metaphysical reality through technology?

“We now come to the realization through that technology and our understanding of the nature of reality that our awareness may not be a physical process. This in turn leads to a new metaphysics, but thanks to that technology. I find that interesting, but we must always realize that it is naive to think that we can do without On belief or metaphysical assumptions. “

Is this not the pride that the Bible warns us of?

“I consider all of this metaphorical, God does not punish us. But it seems that human destiny is that in wanting to raise the level of mankind we are now plunging ourselves into chaos. This has happened in the past twenty years. We have to look at what we the West got rid of since the Enlightenment. Religions were not only there to explain reality, but also to give direction and meaning to life. Technology has not yet done so. “

Backlight: technology as a religionSunday, NPO2, 10:05 pm.

Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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