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Machines are Quanta, Humans have Qualia: what makes us unique as human beings?

Guest post by The Futures Agency content curator Petervan

The world has become obsessed with data: quantifiable and computable data that can be processed, analyzed, and re-calculated for purposes of behavioural influencing. Some call this “the quantification of everything”.

That sounds like a good business model – but there is something  in-human about quantification, as well. Sure, an algorithm can detect and analyze the pixels in an image of an apple. But that does not say anything about the human experience of actually tasting the apple, or feeling the weight of the apple in your hand. This perceived sensation of taste or feeling is exclusively human: the ways things seem to us. Philosophers have a word for that – ‘qualia'.

Qualia are the subjective or qualitative properties of human experiences. Quanta is what machines can do easily and limitlessly, Qualia is – for the foreseeable future – what only humans can do easily. Machines cannot feel. Machines cannot experience. Machines are not spiritually present. Machines don’t “exist”.

The quantification of everything needs to be balanced with more qualia. We need to move from quanta to qualia.

This is also a major theme in Gerd’s book “Technology vs. Humanity” – read more here.


A related video from Gerd on Algorithms and Androrithms:






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