May you live in interesting times – A curse, origin unknown
One of the ‘curses’ usually attributed to ancient China, but frequently thrown around in today’s society is ‘May you live in interesting times’, suggesting that living in turbulent times, no matter the cause, is somehow a bad thing.
True or not, there is no denying one thing – every individual fragment of time was interesting in its own right, and I’ll be free to say that life has never been as interesting as it is today. Just look at what humans did in the last 40 years – first we got computers, then the internet, mobile phones, smartphones, high-speed internet, high-speed internet on smartphones, social media, virtual reality, augmented reality, drones, exoskeletons, prosthetic mind-controlled limbs… all of these things happened in less than a single lifetime.
Humans might be imaginative, but we can’t even begin to imagine what our life will look like in a hundred, or two hundred years. Some people, like the transhumanist Laurent Alexandre, a Paris-born surgeon – urologist, author and entrepreneur, thinks he can get a glimpse of the future. And it looks – strange. For some, it will be amazing, for others – quite intimidating.
According to the trasnhumanist Laurent, an author of the essay entitled ‘The Death of Death‘, future humans will be immortal, jobless and genius. All those things – compared to today’s standards of living.
Through internet-connected humans, augmented reality and artificial intelligence, as well as nano-robotics, humans will eventually be able to live forever. The trasnhumanist Laurent disagrees with certain predictions saying we’ll get there by 2029, but does believe that year could be the year we slowly start rolling back the years.
“When Kurzweil [computer scientist and futurist] announced that he believes that we will turn back the life expectancy of one year each year, this means that we will be immortal,” he told Nom De Zeus. “And for a short horizon in 2029, I do not believe that, for a second. On the other hand, it is clear that we are about to extend our lives, considerably.”
“In the long term, I think Kurzweil is right,” he continued. “But not in the short term. We underestimate the complexity of brain connections in relation to our current knowledge.”
Being immortal is an idea humans look at with both fear and amazement. Religious people mostly oppose it, arguing that immortality should be reserved for the afterlife. That’s why Richard Mills, an anthropologist, social scientist and a Cambridge teacher, believes God will actually be Human 2.0. In other words, technology will make us godlike.
We will all be geniuses soon
But it’s not just immortality that advanced technology can offer for the future humans. It is also an evolutionary step forward. Through technology, we can enhance our bodies, become stronger, faster, more resilient and, perhaps most importantly – more intelligent. Surely, as with any other highly advanced technology, this will be reserved only for the richest and most powerful people on the planet. However, as time goes by, and the price of the technology lowers, it will become more available.
Also, in order to avoid any potential uprising sparked by the sudden widening of the gap between the richest and the poorest, the technology will be made available to a wider range of people. Leading to my conclusions – there will be a lot more geniuses out there. But what will they do? The trasnhumanist Laurent says – nothing.
“The best way to reduce inequality is to increase cognitive abilities of idiots,” he says. “Of course, it is not really politically correct to say this, but it is a reality. And it will be even more. Question: in 2050, what will we do with people with an IQ of 150? Answer: Nothing.”
Basically, ‘idiots’ in 2050, will have an IQ of 150, but they won’t need to do anything because robots will do all the work and be infinitely better at it. Which leads me to my next point:
Hate working? Wait a couple of decades
Another idea that might soon face extinction is working. With the advancement in robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data mining, it’s only a matter of time before human workforce is fully replaced by robots – ideal workers that never err, never tire, never take breaks, never go on vacation and need no salary. They only need maintenance, and they will probably be able to do that themselves, anyway. Artificial intelligence is already among us, albeit not in the form you’d see in the Terminator and the likes. Take, for example IBM’s Watson supercomputer, already learning many things, and turning them to good use. Or, perhaps more relatable – Cortana, the virtual assistant you can find inside the Windows 10 operating system. Many jobs are already being taken over by robots, and with the introduction of autonomous vehicles, that number will just rise. For example, it is only a matter of time before truck drivers, or taxi drivers, are no longer necessary.
That also draws with it another interesting perspective – the relevance of money. When all work is given to robots, and manual labor is not required for gaining material wealth, what purpose does money serve?
According to the trasnhumanist Laurent, none:
“I am one of the people who think that money is going to disappear one day. We live in a society where intelligence is worthless. The money will eventually not make sense”.
Strap in, we’re in for a bumpy ride
How humans could be immortal [Credit: Youtube]
For some, the idea of immortality is not to be toyed with, for a number of reasons. Ethical, moral, religious, as well as social. Religious people would consider it a grave sin, as immortality is something reserved only for the afterlife. Atheists, on the other hand, will look at it from a moral and social point of view, saying it will expand the gap between the rich and the poor even more, as such technology would only be reserved for the richest in our society. It could possibly bring more harm than good, dividing our communities even more, sparking envy, rage and ultimately – violence. The idea of overpopulation is also being thrown around.
Being jobless is also under a huge question mark, as many will tell you they find life’s meaning in work. Surely, no one will be able to stop you from working if you want to, but what will the majority do? We can’t imagine, we can only speculate – especially when knowing that the average IQ is expected to jump to more than 150.
Just as with anything else, you can look at this vision of the future from both sides – the good one and the bad one. Every particular idea has potential to propel the human race into the stratosphere, but also has the potential to run us into the ground. Let’s just hope that the future geniuses will be able to figure these problems out, and create an infinitely better, more civilized society.
Image Credit: Flickr / Michael Shaheen, Adrián Navarro, Amber Case