Member 1459
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john allen (M)
los angeles, US
Immortal since Jan 11, 2008
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    The Future of Us
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    The Future of Us
    I have had this notion that has haunted me for months now : Man can't wait to be a machine. Everywhere I look I see the inexplicable passion for all things digital and man made. Technology has inextricably permeated our lives. It may sound obvious and self evident but it is worth another look.

    After reading The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan, which proposes that to a plant, a bee and a gardener are the same. That is to say, they both do the work of the plant to perpetuate it's species. Meanwhile man thinks he is in control, tending to the plant because he likes the taste of the fruit or the color of the flower, but in fact it is the plant that has him running around doing the work of propagation by 'consciously' forming it's fruit to the liking of man.

    I have the same feeling about the computer. Man is working hard to propagate the various species of technology, improving artificial intelligence at exponential rates, thinking all along that it is to his own benefit. Which it may be, but in the end when the computer has taken over all the functions of it's host, will man still be of use? Could man stand as a threat to the perpetuation of the species, or will we just continue to merge as one bio-mechanical super species?

    Blue tooth phones are going the way of tattoos and piercings, getting under our skin and preparing us for the RIFD chip (the tiny chip that contains all of your personal information from passport and licenses to bank credit and political affiliations). Now worn by many pets 'for their own security'. It won't take much to convince us that it is right that everyone should (we don't want another 9-11).

    Sexy robots beckon from billboards and computer screens. Our notions of perfection and beauty seem to be best fulfilled by cosmetic surgery, implants and eventually the much awaited gene manipulation.
    I mean, what parent in their right mind would not choose to eliminate the genetic propensity for acne and Down Syndrome? And why not give her blue eyes, blonde hair and sportive buttocks while you're in there.

    I saw a guy with artificial legs leaping down Hollywood Boulevard and I thought, it will not take long before everyone wants a pair of those, I want a pair - they are superior to 'the god given' ones.

    Ray Kurzweil, the inventor of the scanner among other things, is one of the most celebrated, if not the most controversial futurists these days. He confirmed my thoughts, and fears recently. I found his predictions on the subject obtained by running the research done by a team of 12, through his algorithms extrapolating trends into near future scenarios that sound perfectly legitimate, repellant and thoroughly thought provoking.

    By his benchmarks, the year 2029 will mark singularity, the point at which the distinction between man and machine will be essentially eliminated. Because we will have nanotechnology, molecular size robots running through our blood stream fixing this and that where nature has 'failed'. Internal memory enhancements to the brain will be standard fare along with reprograming of DNA and chemical chains making us superheroes in our own image.

    Kurzweil announces all this with the enthusiasm motivated by his commitment to extend life expectancy infinitely. A simple extraction of these predictions make you wonder if it's LIFE that he's talking about. How do we draw the line for the human rights given to a man made machine that was born? It's all very strange and very futuristic.

    But I am convinced by now that there is no one future but many which we can choose from, if we are present enough to read the roadsigns. If we keep going in the direction we are going, we are bound to end up where we are headed.

    Tue, Sep 13, 2011  Permanent link

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    Nutrinoland     Wed, Oct 5, 2011  Permanent link
    Do You think that, The same way The Fruit has man running around and the computers have us helping them evolve. Nature and The Universe, have Us Humans and Computers and A.I , carrying out its Evolution ?
    After all maybe our understanding is too narrow to see that Everything that exists, is Nature ...Including our new friends, the computers..
    We might just be a little arrogant to think that anything is actually 'Man made'.
    Where did our intelligence come from in the first place ?
    Maybe we can extend our understanding and include technology as a part of Nature.
    johnallen     Sat, Oct 8, 2011  Permanent link
    Nutrino - Thank you for this comment. Yes, that was my thought - Man is at the service of Artificial Intelligence, perpetuating its evolution. Could it be seen as a parasite over taking its host? For the moment AI beckons with the perfume of 'a better future'. (today we mourn the loss of one of it's greatest ministers - Steve Jobs)

    It is all Nature. How could it be otherwise?

    If we are attempting to expand our POV and look at it all beyond our personal, and for the most part, inherited opinions, then there is no attachment to the human race. The rest of Nature seems to thrive better without us. Are we mutating, ie growing extinct in becoming 'machine made'?

    If so, must we accept greed, for example, as a natural imperative? We might not appreciate it in others, but could it be that it fulfills on some means to perpetuate the species? Or does greed, for example, serve in our mutation toward AI ?

    Or is it time for the white blood cells of civilization to bust in in full force? Which side do you/ we/ I fall on? I don't know yet but it would appear that we have a choice.