There is one freedom that nobody can take away from you, at any point of time. It is your freedom of thinking whatever you want.

Someone can force you to do anything, even kill yourself, but your innermost sanctuary is your own thought, your own beliefs. This is true, as far as we can keep thinking, we can keep thinking whatever we want.

But there has always been a danger lurking. Even though nobody can force us to think something, we’re relatively easy to persuade. It’s even more powerful if we don’t notice it and we believe it was our idea all along. This happened forever, but one of the byproducts of getting better at everything as a society is that we also got better at developing mass persuading tools.

The most effective persuasion is done peer to peer. It’s a tailored persuasion by someone that knows us well and therefore knows were the unattended entrances are. Someone we care about, someone we listen to, someone we’d like to impress are the most powerful influencers we could face.

At the same time, the most economically effective persuasion is done in masse, of course. Any kind of propaganda, from public massive gatherings, speeches, news outlets, etc. You centralize the production of the message and get a lot of bang for your buck.

Now, we got to a point where we managed to merge both aspects in one: algorithms. Technologies that are good at getting to know each of us personally and deciding what to show to us to get us to think something in particular. We have a massively deployed system that is planned centrally, yet feels personal. And the thing that makes it all possible is data.

The more data a system has about us, the better it gets at persuading us. Artificial intelligence is going to make telling the difference between our free choices and our steered choices way more difficult. The only solution is to feed it less data.

And when it comes to money, only a private form of money is going to protect our usage patterns from being weaponized against us. If we want a humane society, with all the pros and cons it entails, we need to adopt such money. The other option is to slowly then faster descend into a mindless, efficient society where there’s no room left for anything but a shapeless blob of grey human pureé.

Freedom is a mixed bag, comes with personal victories and hurtful mistakes. But that’s how we managed to be here now.

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