Chipped Humans and Humanities
Humanities on Mars
It is necessary to have mastery of sciences for a voyage to Mars. Finances cannot be ignored either. But, after that, what? Why generate the related technology and for what purpose? Are only the computers going to live in a new colony to be established on Mars?
Since 1960s, there has been a gradual change in the educations patterns. Instead of learning how humans get along with each other, now only ‘learning money making’ skills are preferred. Nothing wrong with that, is there? But, the question then becomes, ‘how to make money without human relations.’ Can computers make money without humans? What would the computers buy with money? Electricity?
Humans always existed in all varieties from evil to angelic. They have permanently been a squabbling bunch at best. Some managed to put on paper their personal experiences. Others distilled all their knowledge and put on paper as a warning to future generations, describing types of behavior to avoid. Yet others wrote their pure criminal thoughts under the guise of guidebooks. A sampling of those writings can teach a youngster what lurks behind the faces they might see on their computer screens. Whether or not they like it, the person appearing on a computer screen belongs to the human race. As such, that person possesses all the frailties described in earlier books.
Now, all those experiences, knowledge and wicked thoughts have been accumulating for several thousand years in books. They aid us understanding the human nature. Money-making secrets are hidden in the pages, waiting to be discovered. Wait! Did someone actually read them and learned all those secrets on moneymaking? Do I understand, those persons are now trying to hide those lessons by diverting attention away from humanities and into technology?
“Critical thinking” is one aim of humanities. One must comparatively audit what one has learned. This lesson was first learned by humanist members of the Christian Church, and rather painfully. Erasmus (October 28, 1466 – July 12, 1536) was one who practiced it very carefully with Kings, Popes and Princes. His weapon was most often cloaked in humor. And, a delightful humor it is. An earlier person to mention is Wycliffe (c. 1328 – December 31, 1384). He was an academic theologian and member of the Church; his efforts were much more arduous and met with severe opposition from the religious hierarchy, but met with secular support from the Crown. Among his other activities, he led the translation of the Bible into English to make it available for the masses. Jan Hus (c. 1369 – 6 July 1415) was influenced by Wycliffe, a member of the clergy, and in turn, influenced Martin Luther (10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546). In the case of Wycliffe, a special Synod was convened to try him. It did not yield the results desired by the Church. However, the Council of Constance in 1415 declared him a heretic for his activities; the Church had his bones exhumed and burnt on 1428 and his ashes were cast into river Swift. That was more than forty years after he had died. Jan Hus was not spared; after several trials by the Church, he was burnt alive on 6 July 1415 on the Rhine River. Martin Luther was tried, too. However, he was being protected by the German Princes, because, Luther was against paying ten percent of the lands’ income to the Pope as tithe. The activities, thoughts and principles of these men may be taken as markers for the beginning of a ‘free thought’ period by all humans. Wycliffe’s On Universals: Tractatus De Universalibus is one of the early attempts at shearing the clothing of truth to get at the meat. Luther made Bible available to the common people. Hus bridged the two by opposing doctrinal thinking.
I taught humanities for a number of years under various ‘guises.’ In those courses, my main point was always teaching how to think, supported by evidence, based on lessons of consequences. The majority of the students were resistant. The reason was simple: they were in college, because they were told, having a degree would cause them to receive a promotion, a higher salary. They were not interested in the details! I finally made a “deal” with my students: when they earned their first million, they would give me one percent. Why? Simple: because, in my Humanities class (though it was sugarcoated, and called something else) they learned critical thinking. And, besides luck, critical thinking is the first requirement to make money. And, during my tenure at that institution, one student that we knew of made his first million after being tooled in my famed class. Did he give me my one percent, as agreed? No. He was too busy, on his way to make his second million. He had learned the secret. And, his classmates knew the score, if not the methods.
In an on the ground classroom, it is more plausible to influence the minds of the students then in on-line classes. Human interaction matters. In on-line classes, the students invariably turn sultrier, since there is no direct human contact; the instructor cannot look into the eyes of the students. The human speech is not heard; quite a bit of irony is lost in written words. The student motive is the same: a college degree will earn them higher salaries; perhaps one hundred dollars more per month:
They come to believe that, everything needs to work lock-step so that they (Students) can reach their goals on their own schedules. For the purpose, the Students fall into the deadliest educational trap: expecting set answers to set questions. The meaning is clear: The Student is submitting to the will of the higher authority, for the sake of making more money. Will that behavior also just as easily transfer to the political will of higher authority? To induce the Students to unthinkingly repeat the painful atrocities of the past, because they were not taught them?
Perhaps that student remembered my three sentence economics lesson: if you wish to earn a million dollars, go into business. Amassing one billion requires going into politics. If you wish to have more, than you must start a war.
Wars have more results than simply making money. Moreover, the combatants do not always need to be from other nations, polities. A state can wage war on her citizens as well. That war may or may not involve firearms. Technology can be used in more than one way:
Historical evidence shows that, there has been, throughout history, it is possible to observe a continuous contention between the individual and the polity identities. This intra-communal bifurcation manifests itself in all activities of human endeavor, including economic, political and personal versus sovereign states rights. However, never before the role of technology has been elevated to the present level, contesting all comers, to reach absolute supremacy. This contention is not only to replace previous holders of levers to rule or dictate, but to reach levels of control heretofore unknown. Obviously, technology, without human guidance cannot achieve a result. Left unchecked, any governing strata can utilize the technological means to deny any segment of society the individual rights that have been at least philosophically established.
The above examples of Wycliffe, Hus and Luther have demonstrated that point. What about here and now? Are we repeating the errors of the Roman Empire, the errors that caused the collapse of the state? What were those errors? Since the Roman Empire is so well documented, through their writers and historians, we may hazard a few basic points. When the British Empire ‘expelled’ the puritans in early 17th century, what was the reason? Great Britain was a Mercantilist polity, which is both an economic and political system. When the immigrants arrived in the new colony of America, over time, they prospered in a proportion they were not allowed in England. Under Mercantilism, not just anybody could amass wealth; it is a privilege of a certain class. To further develop, the Colonial Americans (among them, Puritans) needed to have a “measure;” a device called money or credit instruments. But, the bureaucrats in London knew that, injecting more British Money or credit instruments would cause the colony outshine the mother. The bureaucrats and politicians were right. The Colonials had the burning desire to have material goods, and that drove them to build an industrial base. But, to do that, they fought a war or two against their mother country to become and remain independent. Centuries later, ironically enough, that industrial base saved the very existence of Great Britain during Second World War.
At this point, the question may be asked if the humanism equals capitalism. The answer can be gleaned from the history of humanism. It is not necessary to construct a theory first and search for evidence and arguments to support it. We need not search for long. Chinese Communist Party is peerless, yet, the same Communist Party encouraged Capitalism as a means of unleashing individual energies of their nation. The success of that policy is visible. Up to the Chinese application of mixing Communism with Capitalism, nobody thought that both systems could live together in a single polity. That event underlined what I had been stating in my classes for decades: it is not the name of the political system that is important, but the application of it. For example, in modern textbooks, ‘democracy’ is held at the most revered position among administrative systems, while Communism occupies the loathed last. Do the Constitutions matter? Perhaps not. England does not have a written Constitution, while the Soviet Union had the most liberal one. England even set aside a Speaker’s Corner in London to voice any and all thoughts freely, while the Soviets did not want their citizens of many nationalities even think any thoughts besides what their Politburo saw fit. While the Nordic countries are all monarchies, unlike the monarchies of the old, they are the most liberal and democratic polities. And the most “Democratic” of the nations, as defined by their official designations as well as the verbiage of their constitutions, turned out to be police states.
Today, Germany is often pointed out as the most humane of the industrialized countries in the treatment of laborers. That is because; the German laborers must take weeks (up to six) of annual holiday. They cannot exchange that time-off for money. The workforce has the right to be represented at all levels of corporate governance; the social security system is in place. All those were first enacted during the time of Bismarck, who was neither a liberal nor a humanist. Bismarck had the aim of establishing the German Empire. He knew he needed a war to affect that, for which purpose, he needed the Junkers constituting the Prussian Parliament to pass seven year military budgets. All that tumult caused by Marxist thoughts was distracting from his long-term plans. And the Junkers at the Parliament were not necessarily aware of Bismarck’s desires nor did they wish to pay for them essentially out of their own pockets. So, Bismarck encouraged the laborers to unionize and have the union leaders come forward to participate in management. That not only prevented costly strikes, but also constituted a political power to be wielded by Bismarck against the Junkers. So, humanism, in that particular case, did not come about for humanistic purposes. Or, did it?
As a concept, democracy has been viewed and described in many different directions. In the original sense it was used in the city where it is said to herald, democracy only applied to one tenth of the population who were both free and citizens. The remainder of that city’s population was slaves, devoid of any rights. Only the slave owners had political rights. Even then, they had to own property to exercise those rights. Similar restrictions were also imported into the American Colonies. Some of those restrictions found their ways into innocuous looking pieces of legislature after the Civil War, to perpetuate a separation of owner and slave, despite the Emancipation Decree. So, who is going to audit the activities of the Legislature, the Judiciary and the Executive Branches? That can only be done by the very people who gave their consent to be governed by a representative government. But, is that very people, as individuals or as groups, aware of their duties for their very own benefit? They may grumble when the taxes are raised, or restrictions on this-and-that are placed on them. Are they aware that they can change the course of governance by acquainting themselves with the basic principles as well as the details?
We are said to be living in a classless society. Is that true? Some years ago, I had witnessed an exchange between a well-known professional athlete and his attorney. The attorney needed some decisions from the athlete as to how best manage the athlete’s money. The athlete’s response was: “in college courses, I learned that the rich royalty had slaves to do everything for them. Now, you are the slave. You bring me the highest returns. I will play pool and get drunk while you do.” Unfortunately, that athlete finally went bankrupt later on. I never was curious if the attorney embezzled money or because the athlete squandered his money. The athlete’s attitude was, regardless, the main culprit. Similarly, when the population abdicates their rights to audit the representatives which they elected, they may find themselves bankrupt. Except, in their case, may also mean losing their country or their own freedoms, or both.
Not only the Declaration of Independence of 1776, but also the Bill of Rights, appended to the Constitution of the United States, are among the primary documents of Humanities. Is it possible to change the contents of those documents by the actions of the Legislative, Judicial or Executive Branches? What would induce a government to circumvent the liberties hard-won earlier by the population? Usually a regime-change is the cause. It has happened before. A regime that wishes to squeeze the last copper coin from the population, and forbid any political activity against the “new” government, will attempt to rescind the individual rights of their citizens. But, what about on Mars; what kind of administration will Mars have? It is not difficult to find constitutions written for the putative Martian colonies. However, the authors of those constitutions are not members of agencies who actually will facilitate the application of an administration on Mars. Therefore, all such drafts may be ignored, and some scientific document may be substituted instead.
When the Europeans arrived in the newly ‘discovered’ continent of the Americas, they possessed two impellent causes: religious fervor and lust for money. In fact, it may not have been possible at all times to make a distinction between the two. At this point, it may be suitable to ask the question “what causes the various nations to race each other to reach Mars?” So far, the reason(s) can be summarized as ranging from “humans are meant to explore the universe” to “why not?” Until the Twentieth Century, there were nomadic groups in Asia who moved their residential locations every six months. They lived high up on mountainous plateaus during the summer and in valleys during the winter. For the duration of their absence, the grass grew anew for their animals, ready for their return the next season. So, the race to Mars perhaps is based on similar reasons: when the natural resources of the Earth are exhausted, or the water becomes undrinkable, and so on, there can be another location to sustain human life. But, whatever the reason, can the humans live without humanity, wherever they might be? That is, unless surrogate humans, be it robots or other, are tasked to live on Mars without any humans. Whether or not the ‘designed virtual humans’ emanate from the same country, or from competing companies, there will be competition among them:
1. The designer communities are hard at work in creating computer systems which will in turn design virtual humans. These virtual humans will need to have Identities. Will these virtual humans brag about their creators, claim that their humans were more intelligent than the humans of another brand?
2. Or worse, will the virtual humans immediately set out to battle each other, for primacy over resources? After all, the humans are creating these virtual humans in their own images, biases and fragilities.
3. Computers are already designed built and programmed to have very specific serial numbers. They can already identify each other by hardware (nalburiye) and software (tuhafiye).
4. The current heuristic software can adapt to the physical conditions and physical choices. The designers, on the other hand, will introduce emotional entries and partialities into the software, reflecting their own intractable preferences.
In the event where the “virtual humans” and real “humans” co-exist on Mars, there may be conflicts between the two entities. It is easy for us to imagine that the humans will always win over the pseudo-human anthropomorphic beings. But, we must also remind ourselves that the virtual humans will be designed by other humans, with their own, personal ambitions. Can they not program those ambitions into their own images? Would that not create a competition, and even warfare between the humans and the pseudo-humans? Does that mean that there will be a different set of laws for the robots or computers performing tasks previously only in the domain of humans? Or, will there be treaties and requirements not to program any ambitions into the “machines?” Is it now or will it ever be possible to stop the progress of technology?
Technology will always progress. But, all possible governance models have already been tried on earth. Most of those models have failed. So, more humanistic models had to be tried as a last resort; after all, governance must be maintained in order to have polities. Was the switch always voluntary on the part of the human populations? Certainly not; the process was often bloody, with both the members of the administrative organs and members of the population losing members to the grim reaper. Was the switch done because, the earlier governance model was not humanistic enough? If the population is unhappy, sooner-or-later, they will move on the cause of their unhappiness.
As of late, there has been talk of “Chipped Humans.” That is, experimental electronic chips of various kinds have been implanted into the central nervous system of a number of human volunteers. The current assumption is that, with these devices, a central computer can issue instructions and the chipped humans will follow those instructions to the letter. Does that combination make a different species of humans, which we may call chumans? How much of their humanity will they keep? Will they still be members of the human race? Will they be able to express independent thoughts or will they be programmable in every aspect at all times? Will these chumans serve as the loyal servants of their creators, and suppress the humans to be used as the old serfs were used? More importantly, how will the future chumans be selected? Will it be a voluntary submission, or will the children be selected on a suitability bases? Will the permission of the parents matter? Can the chumans be as creative as the humans, originating new ideas or products?
At that point, some of the old governance problems, despite the new technology, will re-emerge: How will the designers of chumans know that all chuman designers will remain loyal to the programs? If that will not be the case, will there not be fights and even wars between the chumans of different designers and agencies? In short, despite the ambitions of designer communities and their financiers, the art of governance is not likely to settle down to a tranquil Sunday afternoon.
So, is there going to be humanities on Mars? Can there be humanities on Mars, if Mother Earth does not have it? How do we know if we have it?
 HB Paksoy, “Online or University Education,” Entelequia. Revista Interdisciplinar, 10, Fall 2009. Pp. 167-175.
 HB Paksoy, “Leviathan: Identity Interactions between Society and Technology”, Entelequia. Revista Interdisciplinar, 2006, issue 2. Pp. 157-162.
 HB Paksoy, Imperialism on Mars.
 HB Paksoy, Chapter 11: Technological and Future Identities in IDENTITIES: How Governed, Who Pays? (Malaga: Entelequia, 2006) 2nd edition.