Nearly in the Grip of a Cult
Decades of unprecedented prosperity have made westerners indolent, bored, and self-absorbed. Detachment from Judeo-Christian faith has made elites vulnerable to fanatics and charlatans peddling gimcrackery. These peddlers no longer hawk their nonsense in the name of God, as was done throughout much of history. Today, they claim to do so as enlightened people of science.
Two cults pose growing threats to the well-being of humanity in the coming years. Advancing critiques of these cults is necessary but insufficient. Offering a compelling alternative to the dark world they would fashion is critical.
One cult we know a lot about: “anthropomorphic climate change.” After a half century, “saving the planet” has been woven into the culture. Many people share the conceit that humans have the power to save or destroy the earth.
Over the years, green initiatives have made inroads, being translated into laws and policies. Now, though, a rising generation of left-wing Democrats, backed by aspiring oligarchs, is pushing a radical green agenda with greater intensity. Average Americans are already shouldering the costs.
The Biden administration’s hostility to conventional energy production that’s led to spikes in energy costs are conspicuous poison fruits of this emboldened extremism. But there are more Biden policies and bureaucratic efforts pushing green radicalism that are flying under the radar. They will do enormous harm to the nation’s economic and social fabric if allowed to stand.
The other cult, which is our focus here, centers on the rise of artificial intelligence, which futurists claim will supplant humans as governors. And, no less, the expectation that practically omniscient, predictive algorithms will control every aspect of human existence.
That seems like science fiction. In part, it is, in that the likelihood that artificial intelligence will match or surpass human intelligence is fanciful.
But there’s a growing stable of intellectuals and elite who are convinced that intelligent machines -- or a merger of machines and humans -- will rule the earth. And not in some far-off time.
The futurists assume there’s a bridge between narrow applications of AI and the general intelligence humans possess. But no such bridge exists. As Erik J. Larson explains in his book The Myth of Artificial Intelligence, we’re not even on the right road to such a bridge.
But don’t dismiss futurists’ claims. Their vision may be wrong, but it’s the pursuit of this vision that poses dangers.
Both cults are magnets for rich, powerful people. Both satisfy those who seek even greater wealth and power. Green radicalism is a path to both. A future run by elites and smart machines attracts elites who thirst for control. Then come those who seek to fill voids left in their lives by abandonment of God. They’ve sought religion substitutes in scientism.
Yuval Harari, a renowned “public intellectual” and pal of Klaus Schwab, who has the ears of many of the West’s elites, isn’t just an academic describing the future (as if he or anyone else really knows), but a fabulist. History is littered with false prophets. Some have done great harm to humanity. Marx was the most notably destructive false prophet in recent times.
Harari’s prophecy discounts human life. Humans are soulless and nature is simply mechanistic. Humans and nature are inferior machines to be subjugated and manipulated by superior artificially intelligent machines and a human elite -- or by a merger of both. “AI” machines, we’re told, will possess consciousness and independence.
Harari’s matter-of-factness cloaks a callous disregard from mankind.
Most humans, per Harari, will one day be surplus. Here’s what he says about that dilemma in videos and a transcript housed at Forbidden Knowledge, May 13:
Again, I think the biggest question in maybe in economics and politics of the coming decades will be what to do with all these useless people? [italics added]
The great unwashed, rendered superfluous, will require ministering. Harari states:
The problem is more boredom and how what to do with them and how will they find some sense of meaning in life, when they are basically meaningless, worthless? [italics added]
My best guess, at present is a combination of drugs and computer games as a solution for [most]. It’s already happening. Under different titles, different headings, you see more and more people spending more and more time or solving their inner problems with the drugs and computer games, both legal drugs and illegal drugs. [italics added]
Harari might have suggested that in his Brave New World “useless” people could be provided unprecedented access to education and the arts… could be encouraged to become artisans and craftsmen making unique contributions to their societies, for example. A truly expansive, creative, and caring mind could devise countless ways for humans to bring meaning to their lives and value to a world run by smart machines.
Aside from Harari’s preposterous claim that the elite will “get a [sic] exemption from death” in future world, he closes with this telling remark:
The most interesting place today in the world in religious terms is Silicon Valley. It’s not the Middle East. This is where the new religions are being created now by people like Ray Kurtzweil and this these are the religions that will take over the world. [italics added]
So, we’re to believe that most of the human race, consigned to a scrapheap, pumped full of drugs and computer games, will flock to the Church of Silicon Valley to worship the elite humans and machines that have made their lives terrible? That would take quite a powerful drug to stupefy billions of people into joining one of Harari’s “new religions.”
If most humans become useless, when will they be considered expendable? Why spend resources on useless people? Won’t smart machines ask: “This rabble exists for what purpose? To consume and do nothing? To injure the earth, which without them would be Eden-like?” When would the mass exterminations start?
Harari, like Schwab, and like lesser lights, is a crackpot. As a kid, he must have devoured science fiction to the point that science fiction devoured him. His remarks, though sold as detached analysis, betray contempt for his fellow humans. Harari is a godless man, and it shows.
Harari and Schwab aren’t fringe players, as noted. They’re Rasputins with global reach. The World Economic Forum, founded and chaired by Schwab, enjoys participation by notable players in a wide range of fields. Many head larger institutions, public and private.
Schwab’s utopian vision, as stated in his book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, is about:
“connect[ing] billions more people to digital networks, dramatically improve the efficiency of organizations and even manage assets in ways that can help regenerate the natural environment, potentially undoing the damage of previous industrial revolutions.”
But Schwab’s sterile -- and sinister -- utopia is certain to hit roadblocks:
However, Schwab also has grave concerns: that organizations might be unable to adapt; governments could fail to employ and regulate new technologies to capture their benefits; shifting power will create important new security concerns; inequality may grow; and societies fragment.
In other words, those pesky inferior humans may not conform to Schwab’s vision of a cold global society lorded over by merciless machines and elites. Renegades will surely roam the planet, among whom will be those espousing and fighting for God and liberty… who know that mankind is God’s greatest creation and that freedom is a birthright.
But we needn’t arrive at Schwab’s dystopic world. A powerful counter worldview needs to develop. One that accounts for the spiritual in humans… one that rejects materialism and declares faith and freedom as mutual… one that peoples across the globe rally to because it stands for the inherent value of every human life… one that will kill Schwab’s monstrous vision before it kills us.
J. Robert Smith can be found regularly at Gab @JRobertSmith. He also blogs at Flyover.