I recently watched the documentary film Transcendent Man, which follows inventor, genius, futurist Ray Kurzweil in his life, accomplishments, and insights into the future of humanity. Kurzweil, an artificial intelligence scientist and winner of 24 patents, believes that by 2029 computers will have consciousness. In his book The Singularity is Near, he makes future predictions such as this based on exponential technological growth. Three areas he sees increasing in importance and advancement: genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics. He sees a point in roughly 40 years where artificial intelligence will take over from human intelligence.
Transhumanism, or the transforming of humans through technology to eliminate aging and enhance intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities, is a result of humanity’s age-old search for the Fountain of Youth. It focuses on topics such as life extension strategies, mind uploading/uploading human intelligence into the Internet, and cryonics (preserving humans in cold states for a future period when their disease/illness can be treated).
Arguments and controversy against a futurist/transhumanistic evolution of humanity include: impossibility/infeasibility, playing God with life, genetic divide between the “haves” and “have-nots” (e.g., Gattaca), dehumanization (e.g. Frankenstein), and an “artilect war”/security risks to humans where there is the potential for artificial intelligence to wipe out humans (e.g. Terminator).
How do you think humanity will be different in 50, 100, 200+ years from now?
- The Singularity Storms SXSW: Ray Kurzweil, Lev Grossman to Present Keynote at Interactive Festival (techland.time.com)
- Live forever? Computer says yes (theage.com.au)
- The Next Economic Revolution (fool.com)
- Singularity is plural: The Optimism of BJARKE INGELS and RAY KURZWEIL (urbanvista.net)
- Singularity Summit 2011 Part II – Artificial Intelligence and the Brain (singularityhub.com)
- AI scientists want to make gods. Should that worry us? | Wendy Grossman (guardian.co.uk)