Technology Makes Us More Human – The Atlantic
Updated on January 28, 2023, at 7:51 p.m. ET
ChatGPT, a new AI system that sounds so human in conversations that it could host its own podcast, is a test of temperament. Reading between its instantly generated, flawlessly grammatical lines, people see wildly different visions of the future.
For some, ChatGPT promises to revolutionize the way we search for information, draft articles, write software code, and create business plans. When they use ChatGPT, they see Star Trek: a future in which opportunities for personal fulfillment are as large as the universe itself.
Others see only massive job displacement and a profound loss of agency, as we hand off creative processes that were once the domain of humans to machines. When they use ChatGPT, they see Black Mirror: a future in which technological innovation primarily exists to annoy, humiliate, terrify, and, most of all, dehumanize humanity.
I’m firmly in the Star Trek camp, because although I fully acknowledge that the tech industry is imperfect, and always in need of thoughtful, responsive leadership, I still believe that improvement through technology is how humanity most effectively makes progress. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I sit on the board of the OpenAI nonprofit, and that, through my foundation, I have invested in OpenAI.)
That’s why I switched from a planned career in academia to one in Silicon Valley in the first place. In the early 1990s, I saw how software, globally distributed on the internet, was creating new opportunities to empower people at scale, and that’s ultimately what led me to co-found LinkedIn. I wanted to use technology to help individuals improve their economic opportunities over the course of their entire career, and thus have more chances to pursue meaning in their lives.
Techno-humanism is typically conflated with transhumanism, referring to the idea that we are on a path to incorporating so much technology into our lives that eventually we will evolve into an entirely new species of post-humans or superhumans.
I interpret techno-humanism in a slightly different way. What defines humanity is not just our unusual level of intelligence, but also how we capitalize on that intelligence by developing technologies that amplify and complement our mental, physical, and social capacities. If we merely lived up to our scientific classification—Homo sapiens—and just sat around thinking all day, we’d be much different creatures than we actually are. A more accurate name for us is Homo techne: humans as toolmakers and tool users. The story of humanity is the story of technology.
Technology is the thing that makes us us. Through the tools we create, we become neither less human …….