The World of Tomorrow
Samsung has released its “SmartThings Future Living Report.” It’s a serious look at the topography of the future, at least in terms of its technological promise, and what that will mean for our lives and how we live them. It’s an extrapolation of current technological trends, as all such predictions inevitably are; but it’s less extravagant than most, more restrained and rooted in scientific realities, and it has a convincing ring of truth to it.
Which is exciting, because if the folks at Samsung are right, it means that over the next century or so we’re going to be in for a very interesting ride.
Artificial Intelligence, and the Dawn of a New Species
If you aren’t already aware, we currently have some remarkably life-like robots. However, technology is advancing at an amazing rate. And 100 years from now, things will be vastly different.
The authors of the Samsung report envision an age of “posthumanism,” where human technology and human flesh merge to create a form of life unprecedented in the history of the Earth. With advances in quantum computing, biotechnology, and nanotechnology, artificial intelligence (AI) is sure to become a reality sometime in the next hundred years.
By creating a direct neural interface with the Internet, humankind will be able to “plug into” and augment its own intelligence with that vast thinking layer of the Earth that the French philosopher Teilhard de Chardin called the “noösphere;” and, if the transhumanists are right, by uniting with AI (which will arguably be our greatest creation ever), we will usher in a new phase of evolution, as startling in its implications as the first appearance of human intelligence itself.
In the meantime, until this happens, get ready for some pretty bizarre stuff.
Having our minds “online” could mean the ability to upload and store memories in the Cloud, letting us access and replay them as we do with photos and videos now. And this is to say nothing of “synthetic telekinesis” (the ability to control our machines merely by thinking) and “synthetic telepathy”—a real possibility, if we are able to read and interpret complex brain waves. At this point, technology really will be verging on something almost like magic.
And don’t forget all that cumbersome “wetware”—our physical bodies and fleshly minds—that we’ll still carry around with us. With advances in gene editing technology like CRISPR, even they will be suited to our liking.
By then we’ll really be cooking as far as rewriting DNA goes—we’ll be able to download biological changes into our genomes that unaided evolution would require hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of years to achieve. We’ll be able to edit out diseases and unwanted traits, prolong our lifespans, and incorporate the best biological innovations of other species.
But will we still be human?