Human-as-machine analogies get shaky, but for the sake of all of this talk about ‘optimization’ let’s briefly forego all the weird dystopic sci-fi connotations and refer to ourselves as machines.
We’ve got hardware — physical bodies.
We’ve got software — psychological predispositions, subjective real experience, and subjective virtual experience (culture).
We’ve got accessories — the stuff we own and consume.
In this respect, we are more machine than we are special snowflake. People are ‘individuals’ only to the degree that their collective subjective experiences and minor biological tweaks differ from others. Besides that, we’re working with a unified mass of very similar machines. These machines get more similar as you group them based on religion, cultural ideology, ethnicity, nationality, etc. Even in the globalized world, people tend to group together based on these identifiers, so I cannot ignore their differences completely for the sake of a more simplistic argument.