“People like Elon Musk want to remove the human limit”

The dreams of today’s visionaries are quite difficult. The merging of humans with machines has not escaped observation. What picture are we painting of the people of the future? When we avoid bionic man, we invoke a cyborg who has become invulnerable because he has hybridized his anatomy and his physiology with the dematerialized resources offered by cybernetics.

For a long time, technologies have conspired to reduce or even eliminate what remains of passivity in man – in other words: the fact for him of having to accept life as a gift, the obligation to endure the suffering from disease, the shame of old age and, finally, the inevitable death. They claim to end finitude, as the philosophers say, and we are gradually getting used to their supposedly saving prophecies.

A visionary?

Elon Musk embodies the ultimate visionary these days. Not only because he acts in favor of space colonization that will allow us to leave our planet that has become unlivable. Not only because he aims to give cars the autonomy that will deliver us from human drivers, unfortunately too human. Not only because he wants to conquer the algorithms capable of organizing a planetary public space. All this will justify identifying the billionaire’s ambitions with the obsessions of transhumanism.

But the proliferation of announcements surrounding SpaceX, Tesla and Twitter will remain in scattered order if the Neuralink project does not explore what the matrix should be, namely: the possibility of direct communication with computers by thinking. From the beginning of Neuralink, Musk expected a lot and with him, all the fanatics of “integral thinking” as named the ultimate innovation, in the famous Report said the NBIC (Nanotechnology, biotechnology, computer science and cognitive sciences ) commissioned by the US government to define, in the early 2000s, the “futures” generated by the convergence of technologies.

Integral thinking

Integral thinking, that is, the prospect of integrating the brain with the resources provided by the Internet or, more precisely: the possibility to control by thought alone any device that works as an information system, for example a factory, a car, a social. network or… a person. Neuralink is a company that aims to create brain-machine interfaces, thanks to implants like electronic chips.

The goal is not small and it mobilizes a lot of research around the world. France can be proud of the work of Professor Alim-Louis Benabid, who founded Clinatec in Grenoble to design biomedical devices capable, in particular, of giving quadriplegics the possibility to act in their immediate environment, thanks to the interfacing of synaptic circuits of their brains to machines. But what is characteristic of Neuralink, which declares that it also works in this direction, is the desire to very quickly achieve a so to speak metaphysical goal: to establish the conditions for direct communication of thought with computers, thus contributing to a dematerialization at the stage of the transhumanist ambition to end the resistance of the body.

sorcerer’s apprentices

We often embody the technological excess of our time by denouncing its unbridled Prometheanism. High-tech engineers are sometimes accused of playing sorcerer’s apprentices, when they are not the new demiurges. But have we determined exactly what this incrimination is based on? The Neuralink project helps to do that.

To understand this, a short digression will be useful: the philosophers know how to lay the foundations of the ambition to make themselves gods living in the makers of systems, the metaphysicians who want to eliminate human limitation by revealing it as an illusion that is a totalizing knowledge will be lost. Immanuel Kant summarized their error by criticizing the so-called Saint Anselm (11th century) “ontological argument”that is to say the argument which seeks to prove the existence of God by maintaining that the concept of a perfect being necessarily contains in its properties the very truth of existence.

Kant’s critique concludes simply: from the concept, truth can never be deduced; from what a thing thinks, if it is perfect, it cannot follow that it exists. From there, criticism can extend to any metaphysical work when it gives rise to the illusion of attaining absolute knowledge.

increase the truth

After this digression, how not to return to the technological project in which Elon Musk continues, who wants to entrust to cognitive activity only the power to produce all the truth? This is the ontological argument deployed by research into brain-machine interfaces and, more clearly, by those who claim to “augment” reality through virtual technologies.

There is no doubt that the metaverse will soon carry out the anteriority of metaphysical speculations to prove that technology contributes to bringing metaphysics to the world! The same dream of omnipotence animates the philosopher who aspires to absolute Knowledge and the engineer today who flirts with the fantasy of immortality, though the trajectory from one to the other descends further along the symbolic human dimension in which philosophy resides. attached.

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