“There is this magic that our DNA enables”

I was just at a talk where a computer scientist was making dramatic claims for the value of human decision making. This is typically a crowd-pleasing position to take—after all, we in the audience are humans and we want to hear how great we are.

What really riled me was when the speaker said, “There is this magic that our DNA enables . . .” as a way of saying why humans are so important.

As I wrote a few years ago, it used to be that humans were defined as the rational animal, and now we’re defined as the irrational computer.

It used to be that what we, humans, had to offer in the world was our rationality; now it’s our irrationality that’s valued.

I think the crowd-pleasing position taken by today’s speaker wass just B.S. Don’t get me wrong here, I think human decision making is important; I don’t think we can or should let computers make all our decisions for us.

But let’s not get mystical about it.

“There is this magic that our DNA enables . . .”: This seems to me to be a bizarre sort of techno-mysticism.

The funny thing is, when the speaker was talking about specific research and development, everything said was reasonable. My problem was only in the generalities.