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At what point does technology become magic? When we become irrational

Although only a few decades have really passed, I remember those now prehistoric and obsolete times when I first saw a color television, used a photocopier, enjoyed a hologram, and held a cell phone in my hand (which was the size and the weight of a brick).

But none of those advances, which at the time seemed wonderful and insurmountable to me, can be compared with current technology that, due to its achievements (read: artificial intelligence) is getting dangerously close to magic.

Arthur C. Clarke had already warned that any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic. In other words, at some point in technological progress, technology begins to be perceived as a mystical and supernatural force that generates inexplicable phenomena.

Or, to put it another way, technological advances blur the lines between advanced technology and magic, causing those usually neatly separated concepts to intersect in such a way as to become nearly indistinguishable.

Consider, for example, the possibility of an imminent artificial intelligence superior to human intelligence. Or the ability to edit (manipulate) our DNA. Or the fact that, due to technology, humanity is evolving into four different species of human beings, including synthetic humans and digital humans.

At some point, machines (for example, airplanes) achieved what was previously considered impossible. The same is now happening with artificial intelligence and quantum computers. And, in many cases, that fact of achieving the impossible generates exactly the same "mystical effect" that previously generated spells, incantations or potions.

In this context, we must not forget that some of the early modern inventions, such as telephones and the photographic camera, were initially created to communicate with the other world and to document it visually, respectively.

Be that as it may, the arrival of virtual reality (increasingly real than reality itself) takes the intersection of technology and magic to a new level, because now we can interact with a "parallel world", which does not exist in the physical realm. , but that is not why it is less real. Within that "magical world" we can be what we want and be where we want.

There is no doubt, then, that although technology and magic are still separate concepts at this time, their growing interconnectedness makes it increasingly difficult to separate one from the other. Is ChatGPT a new oracle for our time? Will we have a magic wand that cures everything?

But where does this “magical thought” come from? As the Argentine historian Ariel Petruccelli explained in a recent essay, we are in an irrational age and that is dangerous:

"In our scientific-technical world, magical thinking is a guarantee of subordination to those who dominate science and technology, thus creating a high risk of disaster if those who control the techno-scientific complex allow themselves to be won over by magical or irrational beliefs," says Petruccelli, citing the example of well-known tyrannies and devastating wars in the first half of the last century.

Godlike technology, “magical” beliefs, irrational thinking. What is happening to us?


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