Student Article / Others

Humans Have Will – But It Isn’t Free

Humans Have Will – But It Isn’t Free

Assistant Editor

28 Apr, 2019

Freedom or free will is not a scientific reality, but freedom is a myth. Science now teaches us that Humans certainly have a will, but it is not free. You cannot decide what desires you have. You do not decide for yourself to be introvert or extrovert, easy-going or anxious. Humans make choices but those are never independent. Every choice made by us depends on biological, social and personal conditions that we cannot determine for ourselves. You might choose what to eat, whom to marry and whom to vote, but these choices are determined in part by your genes, gender, family background, national culture, etc and you never choose which genes or family to have.

This is not abstract and you can witness this easily. Just observe the next thought that comes in your mind. Where did it come from? Do you freely choose to think? Obviously not, if you observe carefully your mind, you might realize that you have little control of what’s going on there and that you are not choosing freely.

In previous centuries free will was always a myth and it was a helpful one. But for now the belief in free will has become dangerous. If governments and corporations become successful in hacking the human, the easiest people to manipulate will be those who believe in free will.

In order to successfully hack humans, two things are required: a good understanding of biology, and a lot of computing power. Soon, corporations and governments might hack you; they can not only predict your choices but also reengineer your feelings. For doing so corporations and governments do not need to know you perfectly. They just have to know you a little better than you know yourself.

People, who believe in the traditional liberal story, will simply dismiss this challenge. They would think no one will ever manage to hack the human spirit and nobody can predict and manipulate choices as these reflect their own free will. But this won’t make it go away.

For instance, you surf the internet and a headline catches your eye: “Immigrant looted local women”. You clicked on it and at exactly same moment, your neighbor found a headline that catches her eye: “President prepares nuclear strike on Iran”, she clicks it. Both are fake stories, might be generated by a website keen on increasing traffic to boost its ad revenues. Now you and your neighbor feel that you have clicked on these headlines out of own your free will, but actually, you have been hacked.

Humans are Easy to Manipulate

An algorithm can tell that you are bias against immigrants, while your neighbor dislikes President, which is why you both see different headline. In recent years some people in the world have worked on hacking the human brain to make you click on advertisements and sell you their stuff. Nowadays these methods are being used to sell you politicians and ideologies, too.

At present, the hackers do rely on analyzing signals and actions of yours: the products you buy, places you visit, words you search for online. Within a few years biometric sensors might give hackers direct access to your inner world, and they then can observe what is going on inside your heart. Not the heart beloved by liberal fantasies, but the muscular pump that regulates your blood pressure and brain activity. The hackers can then correlate your heart rate with your credit card data, and your blood pressure with your search history.

In order to survive in the 21st century, we need to leave behind the view of humans as free individuals as freedom is a myth and come to terms with what humans really are- hackable animals. As you are reading these lines, governments and corporations might be striving to hack you. If they any how get to know you better than you yourself, they can sell you anything they want either a product or a politician.

It is important to know your weaknesses. They are the main tools for hacking you. Computers get hacked through pre-existing faulty code lines and humans are hacked through pre-existing hatreds, fears, biases and cravings. Hackers, when they discover what people already fear and hate then it is easy to push the relevant emotional buttons.

So, if humans are hackable, and if our choices and opinions do not reflect our free will, what is the point of politics? The very same technologies that we invented to help individuals pursue their dreams has made it possible to re-engineer those dreams. So how can we trust any of our dreams?

Realizing that our thoughts and desires do not reflect our free will can help us become less obsessive about them. If you see yourself as an entirely free agent, choosing desires in complete independence from the world, it creates a barrier between you and all other entities. You would not really need any of those other entities, you will be independent. It bestows enormous importance on your every impulse – after all, you have chosen this particular desire out of all possible desires. 

And once you give so much importance to your desires, you will try to control and shape the whole world according to it. People wage wars, cut down forests and unbalance the entire ecosystem in pursuit of our desires. But if we understand that our desires are not the outcome of free choice, we will hopefully be less preoccupied with them, and will also feel more connected to the rest of the world.

Our Desires are not Free Choice

Renouncing this illusion of free will can have two opposite effects: first, it might create a stronger link between you and rest of the world, and you will become more attentive towards your environment and also to the needs and wishes of others. It is just like when you have a conversation with someone if you focus on what you want to say then you hardly really listen to others. You will just wait for the opportunity to give the other person a piece of your thought. But when you put aside your own thoughts aside then you can suddenly hear other people.

Second, if you strongly identify the thoughts and desires that emerge in your mind, you do not need to make much effort to get to know yourself. You will think you already know exactly who you are. But once you realize, this isn’t me. This is just some changing biochemical phenomenon, and then you also realize you have no idea who you actually are. This could be the beginning of the most exciting journey of the discovery any human can undertake.