The future non-biological earth population 9

“And death shall have no dominion.” – Dylan Thomas. (It’s a great poem. Read it here.)

This is from NBC (a source we have not had much use for). The article is chiefly about new methods of dealing with corpses, but it is also about a new vision of human “immortality” – the part we find interesting.

If you believe Ray Kurzweil, an outspoken futurist and the director of engineering at Googlecomputers will soon match the capabilities of the human brain. At that point, our consciousness will become intimately mingled with machine intelligence, leading to a kind of immortality.

We’re going to become increasingly non-biological, to the point where the biological part isn’t that important anymore,” Kurzweil declared in 2013 at a conference predicting the world of 2045. “Even if the biological part went away, it wouldn’t make any difference.” …

Kurzweil thinks … the hypothetical time (around 2029, by his estimate) [is] when the great blurring between humans and computers will occur. …

“We can create bodies with nanotechnology, we can create virtual bodies in virtual reality,” Kurzweil says. “I think we’ll have a choice of bodies; we’ll certainly be routinely changing our parent body in virtual reality.”

A computer will replace your brain, and you’ll be given a virtual body.

The thing will be virtually you. It will have your name. It may retain much of your memory, which is to say your edited version of your experience. Your virtual face may be like your face – as it was at some, perhaps pre-death determined, stage of your life.

But will it be you?

As we see it, you will be totally unaware of it, so you will still not be alive.

As human beings are now considered harmful to the planet, and enlightened people are not having children, the human race will be allowed to become extinct and will be replaced by human-invented half-human-half-machine creatures – later entirely machine creatures. But why? What for?

Because they will keep the busy commerce of the earth going? Why? For whom?

Or because they can be programmed to experience joy? (Can they?)

And that will justify the whole of the existence of the world, from the Big Bang to Them?

To which the riposte may be: “Well, what are human beings for?”

They are only for something if they had a creator who had a purpose for them (which has never been disclosed).

As we do not think they had a creator, but evolved, we do not think the human race has a purpose it must achieve, certainly not necessarily the purpose of replacing itself with machines.

We think we are an accident of nature. We think each of us makes his own purposes.

We live, suffer, desire, enjoy, laugh, weep, fight, hate, love, procreate, speak, sing, harm, heal, work, play, imagine, invent, make, destroy, strive, succeed, fail, triumph, regret – and die.

That is the human story.

What the machines will record as theirs, we will never know. Not even if our brains are preserved for the rest of the universe’s existence.

Posted under Science, Technology by Jillian Becker on Saturday, November 18, 2017

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This post has 9 comments.

  • Joe DeCorrevont

    He is incorrect in one way ,these human-machine hybrids will be used for space exploration. The human race will eventually become immortal and highly augmented through DNA manipulation.

  • Stephen D

    We have inherited an ancestral urge, via evolution, to strive, to push the envelope, as it were. However, I strongly disagree with K’s ‘belief’ or presumption of the disposability of the biological. Imv, the more we strive to ‘unburden’ ourselves, from our genetic inheritance, the closer we come to our extinction. Our core genetic programming provides the drive, the impetus, to live and reproduce, and further strive. K’s speculative nightmare consists of a suicidally resigned and submissive, almost enslaved humanity that willingly assimilates then sacrifices itself as a species to the superiority of its technologically advanced, self created overlords… a blind, weak and cynical future, no matter how one dresses it up optimistically. Thankfully the future has a massive blindspot which most futurists fail to see.

    • I too think that “the more we strive to ‘unburden’ ourselves, from our genetic inheritance, the closer we come to our extinction”. And I agree with your criticism of K’s “speculative nightmare”. A most valuable comment. And a pleasure to read. Thank you, Stephen D!

  • Kitty

    Kurzweil and techno optimists like him are wrong about predicting an ultra high tech energy intensive future in an era of declining net energy. He never accounts for this thinking error; when pushed into a corner by critics he’ll mutter something about solar and green energy and other fairy tales, but those contraptions are entirely fossil fuel based as well. It’s not happening.

    • A compelling argument. Makes excellent sense. Thanks, Kitty!

  • Cyrus

    This has been my long held theory that eventually humans will no longer need their biological bodies and a virtually and electro-neurologically connected human race will evolve into a single intelligent entity while preserving certain aspects of individuality.

    • An astonishing and – to me – very frightening vision, Cyrus. What will the entity do? And why?

  • liz

    How could anyone think this way? It’s ridiculous! Why is the idea that you could ‘live on’ through a computer program any more rational than believing in a supernatural afterlife? I’ve heard of people that live in a ‘virtual reality’ computer game fantasyland – I guess this is what it leads to.