Most species are transient. They become extinct, evolve into new species, or change over time due to random mutations and environmental changes. A typical species of mammal can be expected to exist million years🇧🇷
modern people homo sapiens, has been around for about 300,000 years. So what if we get to a million years?
Science fiction author HG Wells was the first to realize that humans can become something very alien.
In his 1883 article A million people a year, he envisioned what has now become a cliché: creatures with big brains, small bodies. He later hypothesized that humans might also split into two or more new species.
Although Wells’ evolutionary models have not stood the test of time, the three main options he considered are still valid. We can become extinct, evolve into multiple species, or change.
An additional ingredient is that we have biotechnology that can greatly increase the likelihood of each of them.
Human enhancement (making ourselves smarter, stronger, or otherwise better using drugs, microchips, genetics, or other technologies), brain emulation (implanting our brains into computers), or artificial intelligence (AI) can create technological forms of new species unseen in biology.
Software intelligence and AI
It is impossible to predict the future perfectly. It depends fundamentally on random factors: ideas and actions, as well as currently unknown technological and biological constraints.
But my job is to explore the possibilities, and I think the most likely case is extensive ‘speciation’ – the splitting of a species into several other species.
There are many among us who want to improve the human condition—to slow and reverse aging, enhance intelligence and mood, and modify bodies—potentially leading to new species.
However, these images leave many cold.
It is safe to believe that even if these technologies become as cheap as mobile phones and become ubiquitous, some people will reject them on principle and establish the image of a “normal” person in themselves.
In the long run, we should expect the most advanced humans to differ from generation to generation (or improvement after improvement) in one or more fundamental ways. “post-human” species – and a self-proclaimed “real people”.
through brain emulationis a speculative technology that scans a brain at the cellular level and then reconstructs the equivalent neural network in a computer to create “software intelligence,” we can go further.
This is not just a speciation, but a separation from the animal kingdom to the mineral, or rather, the software kingdom.
There are many reasons why some would want to do this, such as increasing their chances of immortality (by creating copies and backups) or easy space travel with internet or radio.
Software intelligence has other benefits. It can be a lot resource efficient – the virtual entity only needs energy from sunlight and some rock material to make microchips.
It can also think and change on computationally defined time scales, probably millions of times faster than biological minds. It can evolve in new ways – it just needs a software update.
However, it is unlikely that humanity will remain the only intelligent species on the planet.
Artificial intelligence is currently developing rapidly. Although there are deep uncertainties and disagreements about when or if it will be conscious, artificial general intelligence (that can understand or learn any intellectual problems like a human, rather than specializing in niche tasks) will come. I think it is possible in this century or sooner.
If it can happen, it probably will. Someday, we may have a planet where humans are mostly replaced by software or artificial intelligence or a combination of both.
Utopia or dystopia?
Ultimately, it seems plausible that most minds will evolve into software. Research shows that computers will soon be more energy efficient than they are now.
Software minds also won’t need to eat and drink, which are inefficient ways to get energy, and they can save energy by running slower parts of the day.
That means we should be able to get more artificial intelligence per kilogram of matter and in the distant future more watts of solar energy than human consciousness. And because they can evolve so quickly, we should expect them to change a lot over time from our current way of thinking.
Physical entities have a distinct disadvantage compared to software entities moving in the slow, strange world of matter. However, they are self-contained, unlike flying software that will evaporate if the data center is ever compromised.
“Natural” people can stay in traditional societies unlike software people. It’s not unlike the Amish people, whose humble lifestyle is still made possible (and protected) by the surrounding United States. It doesn’t matter that surrounding societies have to suppress small and primitive societies: we have established human rights and legal protection, and something similar can continue for normal people.
Is this a good future? A lot depends on your values. A good life can include having meaningful relationships with other people and living in a consistently peaceful and prosperous environment. In this regard, queer posthumans are unnecessary; We just need to keep the quiet little village functioning (perhaps protected by invisible automation).
Some may appreciate the “human project,” an unbroken chain from our Paleolithic ancestors to our future selves, but open to progress. They’ll probably think of software humans and AI as going too far, but they’ll be fine with humans morphing into strange new forms.
Others would argue that what is important is freedom of self-expression and following your life goals. They may think that we should explore the post-human world widely and see what it has to offer.
Others may value happiness, thoughtfulness, or other qualities possessed by various entities and desire a future that maximizes them. Some may be uncertain that we should hedge our bets by going all the way down to some extent.
Here is the forecast for a million years. Some people are more or less like us, but there are fewer of them than there are now. Most of the surface is desert, which has become a redevelopment zone because there is less need for agriculture and cities.
Here and there, cultural sites with very different ecosystems are opening up, carefully protected by robots for historical or aesthetic reasons.
There are trillions of artificial intelligence under the silicon covers in the Sahara. The vast and hot data centers powering these minds once threatened to overheat the planet. Now most revolve around the Sun, forming a growing structure – a Dyson Sphere – where every watt of energy power thinks, consciousnessWe don’t have a word yet about complexity and other weird stuff.
If biological humans become extinct, the most likely reason (besides the currently obvious and immediate threats) is a lack of respect, tolerance, and binding contracts with other post-human species. Maybe a reason to start treating our own minorities better.
Anders SandbergJames Martin Researcher, Future of the Humanities Institute and Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford
This article has been republished Conversation Under Creative Commons license. read it original article🇧🇷
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