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If We Lose Touch, We Lose Humanity

Analysis. By relying on data profiling and even more data predictions, we risk loosing our human senses and intuition. We risk replacing fundamental human skills with data analysis and machine learning. It is easy and convenient, and it is already happening. So, we should rely on human intuition and sign the Human Manifesto.

2025 scenario. A school teacher senses that one of her pupils are not thriving at home. She decides to call her parents for a meeting. The parents are deeply offended by the teachers’ questions about their daughter’s well-being. They question her ability to be a teacher and file a complaint demanding that she is laid off. The school’s predictive data system established to foresee kids not thriving, has not reacted. The teacher only reacted on her own intuition. The teacher receives a warning for creating a conflict with the family when the predictive system was silent. The teacher accepts not to react, unless data support her intuition.

This is a very likely scenario, if we let data, profiling and prediction take over in education and social welfare systems. What if we stop listening to our intuition – or rather are not allowed to react on it? Or what if the data prediction system flags a problem that is not at all prevalent, as data might is corrupted, out of date or even false. And who will be responsible when no humans are involved?

By relying on data profiling and even more data predictions, we risk loosing our human senses and intuition. We risk replacing fundamental human skills with data analysis and machine learning. It is easy and convenient, and it is already happening.

When our phones had our contacts embedded , we lost the ability to remember phone numbers, as we wrote earlier. We have outsourced our orientation abilities to GPS, birthday and anniversary greetings to Facebook, and our ability to remember stuff in general to Google Search. Our arithmetic is referred to Excel, and our ability to remember password has been replaced by a password manager. And yes, we use our brains on other creative stuff, but we are also beginning to outsource our ability to listen and respond to our body’s signals with trackers and smartwatches measuring our heartbeat and pedometers that vibrate if we sit still for too long.

We end up becoming ‘speed blind’ unless we become aware of the consequences and react accordingly. One of them is to discuss and decide the limits as to where we will let data compliment and in the long run take over our decision, and where we will maintain humans to decide. Especially when it comes to children and teens.

Rely On Human Intuition

Data on kids below 13 should not be used to any automated profiling or prediction. The use of data on kids age 13-16 for automated profiling and prediction should be very cautious and never used to foresee whether they have an increase in risk of being unemployed or high performers. There might be exemptions when it comes to rare diseases. But apart from that, parents who feel a deep need to perform predictions on their children, should be warned about it, as there will be private companies delivering such kind of services. Parents should always be told to primarily rely on their own intuition and sense about their kids and not on automated tests informing them of various risks regarding the future. We already know and respect the use of psychiatric profiling using automated tests, but they should never stand alone and never be decisive.

A baby will not survive without the human touch. Photo: Alex Pasarelu

In public schools and other public services, we must let kids be kids and give everybody a chance to grow up without being put into any pre-destined future. We must preserve our humanity towards kids. A baby will not survive without the human touch, and we should teach our kids the value of the human intuition, touch and senses, instead of letting their lives be controlled by data predictions. If we let data take over and decide our next step, we are giving up on humanity. As we wrote earlier: Humans are not just data processing software.

As Klaus Høyer, professor at the Department of Public Health at Copenhagen University said in Politiken:

“We must ensure that simple data is not overruling practical experience. This is not only true for the health sector but also for schools. Very few teachers have the experience to understand and interpret data. And do they have time for that? It is much better to look at the pupil in stead. Talk to them. We should show the teachers that confidence in stead of believing that everything must be datafied.”

No Thanks To Transhumanism

A good place to fight for humanity in general is to fight transhumanism. According to six distinguished professors this is what transhumanists do:

‘They promote and push for a future that blindly heralds ubiquitously wired, genetically optimized, computing – led societies, in which supposedly fallible humans are manipulated and enhanced by an invisible, presumably controllable and more optimal, robot – driven machinerycalled the next stage of ostensible “evolution” for humanity.”

Therefore the professors promote a Human Manifesto where they make following clear:

  • We humans are animals of meaning
  • We are enchanted beings who appreciate our existence
  • Unlike machines which merely simulate awareness, we are originally aware and capable of distinguishing between the state of being aware (mental presence) and the contents of which we are (intentionally) aware.
  • Our attuned thinking and acting ensures that our life is not only determined by formal procedural rationality.
  • Through our joint attention we influence the emergence of our environment; thereby being co-creators of everything that exists.
  • Sentient nature includes emotionality as a basic principle of self-regulation and self-orientation. Emotions are either agreeable or disagreeable, either lustful or painful. Emotions thus make us feel what is good and what is evil or bad. By colouring the “how it feels” to be the being one is, they are what our sense of good and evil ultimately relies on. There is no such sense without or outside of sentience.
  • As sentient beings we are attracted to the good, and seek our own and others’ flourishing (the common good), which is convertible with the search for the beautiful, the true and full relationality.
  • We should never forget that we are vulnerable beings. We live contingent lives. Our bodies, minds, emotions, and overall form as persons (our souls) are liable to damage and deformation; and this is the case both mentally and physically. We therefore need to protect ourselves.

Get the Human Manifesto