Whether you are a Sam Harris fan or not, I truly recommend listening to the interview Sam Harris did live with Yuval Noah Harari (the interview itself is about an hour with an hour of Q&A afterwards. The first hour is most valuable). Harari is a brilliant man, and somebody who I think we should be listening to. I transcribed this passage from the interview.
“…however complicated the humanity entity is, we are now reaching a point when somebody out there can really hack it. It can never be done perfectly. We are so complicated, I am under no illusion that any corporation or government or organization can completely understand me. This is impossible. But the yardstick or the critical threshold is not perfect understanding, the threshold is just better than me. Then the key inflection point in the history of humanity is the moment when an external system can reliably, on a large scale, understand people better than they understand themselves. This is not an impossible mission, because so many people don’t really understand themselves very well. With the whole idea of shifting authority from humans to algorithms, so I trust the algorithm to recommend TV shows for me, and I trust the algorithm to tell me how to drive from mountain view to this place this evening, and then I trust the algorithm to tell me what to study and where to work, whom to date and whom to marry, and who to vote for. People say, no, no, no, no, no…that won’t happen, because they will say there will be all these mistakes and glitches and bugs, and the algorithm won’t know everything, and it can’t do it. And if the yardstick is to trust the algorithm (or) to give authority to the algorithm it must make perfect decisions than yes it will never happen. But that’s not the yardstick…the algorithm just needs to make better decisions than me.”
There are many ways I think one can know one’s self better, and I don’t think we spend enough time doing that. Moreover he argues that this is even more critical today because the technologies out there are far more capable of hacking us than ever before. Victoria over at Victoria Neuronotes often talk about the importance of understanding cognitive science and neuroscience, and how the brain works…this needs to be a regular part of our education systems, because awareness is key. But knowing one’s self should also come from meditation, introspection, and taking time to just unplug and think about who you are and what you want to be. Find yourself.