reply to post by phi1618
My take... hmm. Well, for starters, there's no such thing as prophecy or divining the future. We can no more accurately speculate what the world will
be like in 2100, than our grandfathers and great-grandfathers could accurately predict what the world of 2009 would be like.
That said, of your proposed scenarios...
1.) The Singularity Man will merge with machine, becoming similar to the Borg or star trek.
The Singularity is generally defined as occurring when the first AI of greater than human intelligence is developed and shows the capability to design
an even more powerful next generation of itself. However, I don't think this scenario will occur. Humanity itself will be well on it's way towards
brain augmentation long before AI is realistically tenable. The first fully computerized consciousness will likely be a direct emulation of the human
brain in a virtual environment. There are already projects underway to accomplish brain emulation. The Blue Brain Project has successfully modeled the
Neo-Cortical column in rats on the cellular level - with a molecular emulation currently underway. They've suggested that full emulation of the human
brain on a cellular level is doable in the next 10 years. (Source
It could be said that we've already started this process long ago... with written language, spears, fire, and other technologies that augment our
bodies natural limits within an environment. While the direct enhancement of ability through merger with technology is a significant step - it only
one of thousands we've already taken collectively to the point were at now.
Also, comparisons to the "Borg" are both silly and unrealistic. It's not possible to sync consciousnesses into a single hive mind, because
consciousness and personality themselves are apparently a direct result of our unique brain structures and cognitive abilities. Even identical twins
raised in the same environment are unique individuals - even with the amazing similarities in both brain structure and behavior. They are clones of
each other, yet that doesn't prevent them from being individuals with their own wills, dispositions, personality quirks, interests, etc. The only way
to make the Borg real, would be to exterminate humanity. There would be no need for merger.
Though I do very much anticipate the full merger of technology and biology within this century. Though, I can see the push for cyberization being one
more focused on customization aspects - rather than optimization.
2.) Genetic Purity Though a mastery of genetics, a race masters itself on a physical level. In turn removing the need to sexually reproduce, and
instead using cloning.
Impossible, for a number of fundamental reasons. There is no such thing as Genetic Purity or Optimized human anatomy. The environment is inert, and
thus is incapable of caring about human aspirations of perfection. Additionally, while humanity may find more optimized forms or augments for sexual
reproduction - the drive and desire for such is deeply ingrained into our psyches. While we can currently curb and check this drive, we cannot divorce
ourselves from it. Sexual reproduction, further, is vital to the generation of unique gene sequences necessary for long term survival of our species,
as well as our progeny. The largest boost in unique mutations occur at conception, though our genetic structure will continue to mutate at slower pace
for the rest of our lives.
Additionally, any attempt at the removal of evolution - or the standardization of the human genome will doom us to extinction by allowing
potential/situational weaknesses to propagate to every "node" in the system - increasing the risk of catastrophic failure of the entire system. Life
on Earth has survived hundreds of extinction level events - including several major ones which have decimated up to 80% of all known life. The
promotion of diversity is a strength we would be wise not abandon.
And just because we can gain the ability to actively and purposefully modify our genetics towards a set of goals for the common human good (The
eradication of pandemic disease, for example) doesn't mean we should rely on it utterly. Novel and unique benign mutations we may well overlook could
well provide valuable research and innovation at a later time. The only change this will bring, is to allow evolution to work on the individual level
- rather than on populations.
Finally, the dream of clone... anything... is pretty much dead. Clones are created constantly in the natural world... but we call them Identical
Twins. Nothing in our research of the twins has, to my knowledge, done anything but dispel the Sci-Fi vision of clones.
3.) Balanced Growth THe most ideal and safest way to develop, this method involved both a singularity and the raising of individual consciousness to
the point where a physical body can be replaced with a mechanical one.
There is no such thing as balance in nature, or in the sphere of the human condition. Further, the "raising of consciousness" is impossible without
profound modification and redesign of the brain... one that's only going to come through millenia of reproduction cycles. We don't have the luxury
of time, and the end result would likely be a net-loss of cognitive ability if we are to survive. Our brains are already stressing the limits of our
physical anatomy - both in terms of childbirth complications and energy consumption. To me, the evidence suggests that consciousness, intelligence,
and cognition on our current level is indirectly selected against
by the environment. One thing is for sure... evolution sure as hell doesn't
optimize function. Our brains are a patchwork mess.
4.) Matrix A race creates its own world within an external source, such as a computer generated environment. All needs are provided by machines,
however the race chooses to be within a virtual space where they will grow and develop. Basically the matrix, without the amnesia.
This is coming in conjunction with point #1, provided consciousness can exist emulated in a virtual environment. It'll be necessary to solve
overpopulation and resource consumption issues. We're already starting to see the first glimmers of it in the entertainment industry. However, once
the transition to a digital emulation of the brain is made - I don't realistically see the ability to download again into a traditional organic
brain. Everything you are and feel and experience is dependent on your unique organization of over 100 trillion synaptic connections that are
constantly changing and rewiring as you learn and experience from moment to moment. I won't say it's impossible... but the challenge would be
5.) Spiritual A race does not worry itself with mechanism and instead fully devotes itself to spiritualism. This race will be characterized by
transcending normal barriers and losing the need for physical bodies. This race will be above life and above death. Basically the ancients from the
star gate series.
Romanticized by the "ancients from the star gate series". In reality, it represents the abject surrender to the brutality of nature and the
environment. To embrace this path, IMO, is to embrace the road back to the Dark Ages.
Ultimately, however, this path may provide humanity with the greatest opportunity for long term survival. All of the above paths to the future carry
with them the overwhelming guarantee that death, and extinction, await us. To embrace technology and science to augment ourselves is desperate reach
for a glimmer of hope across a perilous chasm of chance and potential abuse of that technology to eradicate us. A hope that we can beat the odds a bit
longer. A chance that we will play a grand role in the history of evolution - and change the course of life on this planet forever with the fruits of
our special adaptation. Similar to how oxygen producing algae played their key role in providing the fuel for the metabolic furnace which resulted in
the Cambrian Explosion.
To waste that potential is the safest route for humanity as a species, imo, but it similarly damns us all.
I do not wish to imply that I'm making light of the implications of our decisions on which path to choose (though to be honest, I don't think we CAN
stop or slow down progress at this point) - but a popular phrase comes to mind. Is it better to burn out in a blaze of glory, or to fade away into
obscurity? Whichever you choose, it will not change humanities ultimate fate. Merely color your perception and experience of it.
[edit on 6-10-2009 by Lasheic]