The Wall-E vision of the future, or what this New Yorker article dubs the “sofalarity”, is not believable to me. It’s a classic mistake of prediction that I like to refer to as “super now.” When making super now predictions, people simply take things that are happening right now and imagine that the future will be just like now only “more extreme.”
Transhumanism is mostly shown, as a next evolutionary step of humans, which as we know, is transitory. From a legal perspective, transhumanism brings many hopes, promises, but also questions and problems. My prior articles concerned mainly the case of mind uploading, whole brain emulation and artificial intelligence’s. This one will concern something more complex.
We are here because we recognize the frailty of human existence and the vastness of our limitations. We are here because we acknowledge that we live in a harsh world which can draw out the very worst of our already-flawed nature. We are here because we believe, in spite of overwhelming challenges, that something better is possible. We believe the path to a higher state of existence demands devotion and sacrifice.
My daughters and I just finished Carlo Collodi’s 1883 classic Pinocchio our copy beautifully illustrated by Robert Ingpen. I assume most adults when they picture the story have the 1944 Disney movie in mind and associate the name with noses growing from lies and Jiminy Cricket. The Disney movie is dark enough as films for children go, but the book is even darker, with Pinocchio killing his cricket conscience in the first few pages. For our poor little marionette it’s all downhill from there.
The science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov famously proposed three laws for all robots to follow: (1) a robot may not attack a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; (2) a robot must obey the orders given to it by a human being except where such orders would conflict with the first rule; (3) a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first two rules. These “laws,” though they sound just and logical, are utterly impossible to implement if the autonomous robots are to be intelligent and able to reprogram themselves.
After rising from the primordial soup 3.5 billion years ago, Earth life began an evolutionary trip that has produced today’s amazing human. Futurists now ponder what’s next. Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku, Thomas Frey, Ray Kurzweil, and other forward-thinkers believe technologies will advance exponentially in the centuries ahead, creating sweeping changes in how we view life, our planet, and the cosmos.
As long as they’re earthbound, most people shrug off the idea of being anything other than a biological human. Some people are even repulsed or angered by the concept of scientifically tampering with the human body and brain too much.
Abstract: Robotics and artificial intelligence are beginning to fundamentally change the relative profitability and productivity of investments in capital versus human labor, creating technological unemployment at all levels of the workforce, from the North to the developing world. As robotics and expert systems become cheaper and more capable the percentage of the population that can find employment will also fall, stressing economies already trying to curtail “entitlements” and adopt austerity.
"The year is 2032. You have just celebrated your 80th birthday and you have a tough decision ahead. You can keep repairing your current body or move into a new one. The growing of 'blank' bodies has become all the rage in the 2030s, and by using your own genetic material, body farmers can now recreate your own strong, healthy body as it appeared at age 20."
In Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential: A Cosmic Vision for Our Future Evolution, IEET affiliate scholar Ted Chu, a professor of Economics at New York University in Abu Dhabi and former chief economist for General Motors and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, argues that post-humanity is a logical and necessary evolutionary next step for humanity, and we need a new, heroic cosmic faith for the post-human era. “The ultimate meaning of our lives rests not in our personal happiness but in our contribution to cosmic evolution,” says Chu…
In just ten years, many of today’s older citizens might look in the mirror and ask, “Who is that gorgeous person?” Their reflection would reveal a revitalized body overflowing with enthusiasm, sporting a dazzling smile, wrinkle-free skin, perfect vision, natural hair color, real teeth, and an amazing mind and memory.
The last decade or so has seen a renaissance is the idea that human beings are something far short of rational creatures. Here are just a few prominent examples: there was Nassim Taleb with his The Black Swan, published before the onset of the financial crisis, which presented Wall Street traders caught in the grip of their optimistic narrative fallacies, that led them to “dance” their way right over a cliff. There was the work of Philip Tetlock which proved that the advice of most so-called experts was about as accurate as chimps throwing darts. There were explorations into how hard-wired our ideological biases are with work such as that of Jonathan Haidt in his The Righteous Mind.
A senior American spy chief has released his assessment of the most troubling threats facing the US — a list that includes terrorism, hackers, WMD proliferation, pandemics, extreme weather events — and the militarization of space.
Putting innovation to a vote is never a good idea. Consider the breakthroughs that have improved our lives the most during the 20th and early 21st centuries. Did anyone vote for or ordain the creation of computers, the Internet, smartphones, or tablet computers? No: that plethora of technological treasures was made available by individuals who perceived possibilities unknown to the majority, and who devoted their time, energy, and resources toward making those possibilities real. The electronic technologies which were unavailable to even the richest, most powerful men of the early 20th century now open up hitherto unimaginable possibilities even to children of poor families in Sub-Saharan Africa.
With a clear way forward, what are we waiting for? If we get this done, then we can probably live indefinitely. Can humans be so mentally slothful and negligent that they would be able to do all kinds of things on microscopic scales and yet not be able to clear damage out of biology? Does anybody really think that most mitochondrial proteins can make it through the TIM/TOM complex, but that it’s out of the question for the rest of them?
What can we expect from our high-tech future? Of course, no one can forecast with 100% accuracy how our lives will progress; but if we look at what experts predict might become possible over the next two-to-three decades; and then blend in some scenarios that push the envelope – an incredible time begins to take form.
“[...] the most promising ways to postpone aging are by disrupting the pathways underlying it, just as we do for specific diseases.” (de Grey, p.22) That line sums up an important element of strategies for engineering negligible senescence (SENS) in Aubrey de Grey’s book Ending Aging, published in 2007. The book outlines the straightforward sense in disrupting the pathways that cause us to age: by engineering the damage of aging out of our biology after the body has experienced the damage, but before the damage accumulates to deadly levels.
I’ve written a few postsabout mind-uploading, focusing mainly on its risks and philosophical problems. In each of these posts I’ve drawn distinctions between different varieties of “uploading” and suggested that some are less prone to risks and problems than others. So far, the distinctions I’ve drawn have been of my own choosing, based on what I’ve read about the topic over the years. But in his article “A Framework for Approaches to Transfer of a Mind’s Substrate”, Sim Bamford offers an alternative, slightly more sophisticated, framework for thinking about these issues. I want to share that framework in this post.
Building machines that process information the same way a brain does has been a dream for over 50 years. Artificial intelligence, fuzzy logic, and neural networks have all experienced some degrees of success, but machines still cannot recognize pictures or understand language as well as humans can.
Of course, no one can predict the future with 100% accuracy, but by combining present day knowledge with anticipated advances, we can make plausible guesses about what life might be like in the 2050s. Over the coming decades, healthcare research will wield huge benefits for humankind. By 2050, stem cells, gene therapy, and 3-D bio printing promise to cure or make manageable most of today’s diseases.
In The Tyranny of Happiness, the last chapter of Better than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream, the philosopher and bioethicist Carl Elliott explores how the ideal of a happy life can be systematically imposed to people under specific circumstances. Making myself clearer, in the aforesaid essay, Elliott employs a critical analysis of the pursuit for a happy life in the American society since about the period of the Declaration of Independence until the present days.
At a UCLA workshop attended by yours truly and other future watchers, the late physicist Dr. Robert Forward told the group that further understanding of the cosmos would one day enable man to travel through time. “Given the money and mandate,” Forward said, “in the not-too-distant future, a time machine will be built.” This workshop convened in 1983; now, 31 years later, scientists are edging ever closer towards realizing this bold prediction.
For people in cold climes, winter, with its short days and hibernation inducing frigidity, is a season to let one’s pessimistic imagination roam. It may be overly deterministic, but I often wonder whether those who live in climates that do not vary with the seasons, so that they live where it is almost always warm and sunny, or always cold and grim, experience less often over the course of a year the full spectrum of human sentiments and end up being either too utopian for reality to justify, or too dystopian for those lucky enough to be here and have a world to complain about in the first place.
This is the third (and final) part in my ongoing series about the rationality of mind-uploading. The series deals with something called Searle’s Wager, which is an argument against the rationality of mind-uploading. The argument was originally developed by Nicholas Agar in his 2011 bookHumanity’s End. This series, however, covers a debate between Agar and Levy in the pages of the journal AI and Society. The first two parts discussed with Levy’s critique; this part discusses Agar’s response.
What if you could improve memory and intelligence, and live in an ageless body – just by taking a pill? Though this may sound like the stuff of science fiction, experts are developing a better understanding of our genetic mysteries, including the powerful influence that DNA wields on our lives.
When is it ethically acceptable to harm another sentient being? On some fairly modest assumptions, to harm or kill someone simply on the grounds they belong to a different gender, sexual orientation or ethnic group is unjustified. Such distinctions are real but ethically irrelevant. On the other hand, species membership is normally reckoned an ethically relevant criterion. Fundamental to our conceptual scheme is the pre-Darwinian distinction between “humans” and “animals”.
Is there another you reading this article at this exact moment in a parallel universe? Dr. Brian Greene, author of The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos, believes that this freakish quirk of nature may exist; and he discusses its amazing possibilities in this 3-minute TV interview.
Hot chocolate, warm clothes, and wrapped presents under a tree, ‘tis once again the season to be jolly! We are familiar enough with the holidays as they are now; but what might Christmas be like in 25 years?
Although some people might find the idea of love with a machine repulsive, experts predict that as the technology advances and robots become more human-like, we will view our silicon cousins in a friendlier light. As the future unfolds, robots will fill more roles as family caregivers, household servants, and voice-enabled avatars that manage our driverless cars, automated homes, and entertainment systems.