The future is fast paced. Are we, we as mankind, stepping into “World 4.0” era ? Is “world 4.0” era better term than “Industry 4.0” ? Robots are scaring us, but, they are arriving in our homes and no one can stop this. In the world of wearable robotics for rehabilitation of medical injuries – you will meet a small group of people who have worked very hard, often inspired by friends and family who they wanted to help. You will not find a robot empire, but pockets of amazing people who want simply to leverage technology to help people they care about to overcome injury, illness and gravity.
Many of you will have heard of Ray Kurzweil, the futurist, inventor and now director of engineering at Google, who predicted, among other things, the rapid expansion of the Internet back in 1990. He then went on to popularise the concept of “the Singularity”, an era in which humans will merge with artificial intelligence, transcend our biological limitations and, ultimately, achieve immortality. Whatever your views about Mr Kurzweil’s more advanced predictions (although we feel obliged to point out that he has previously enjoyed an 86 percent accuracy rate) it certainly looks increasingly likely that some of those relating to the near future will be validated. This is because the basis for many of his theories lies in the exponential growth curve in computing power that we are witnessing right now. Just as one example, it’s nearly the time of year when we will find out about the latest performance of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. The current frontrunner is China’s Sunway TaihuLight, which has a High Performance Linpack (HPL) rating of 93.0 petaflops.
People need to outsmart the robot
You can’t outrun the future but the future can outrun you. In Eindhoven, we even found about an employment agency for robots. You can’t stop the exponential growth of technology like robotics. With the contribution of artificial intelligence and cognitive capacities we are creating autonomous entities, like cars but also robots. That makes it really interesting: autonomous. Combined with blockchain ‘they’ will have bankaccounts etc like humans. New ecosystems, new infrastructure and new challenges which have to do with the balance between money, law, control and ethics. Interesting and much closer than most of us can imagine. Working side by side with a robot, having robot lift heavy equipment as required in manufacturing industry is fine but integration of a machine with a human would destroy our species as we know it, before we see the potential we hold within unfold. Nothing wrong with development of technology but one has to be very careful as to how it’s applied. Note, that exponential development of technology is also paralleled with exponential leap in awareness. Robots is a new toy and it may be exciting to observe its development but be mindful – the toy is not as attractive as you think!
Related: Workplace Artificial Intelligence
See Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’
What’s coming next is even more fascinating however, because as we really start to embrace the power and potential of systems like artificial intelligence and virtual or augmented reality, the lines of distinction between the human and cyber worlds will start to blur – paving the way for the next phase of our evolution as digitally enhanced humans, or “Homo Digitalis”. We are close to a very hard decision: stay human or become machines? Something like cyborgs, much more than simply wearing exoskeleton suits. We are far from making a precise opinion about that. And hope we’ll choose the best for us and for our earth and the ecosystem too, but we are not optimistic about the capitalist way of making choices. Where people are displaced by automation, they will find other employment as the nature of work changes. The desire to preserve our own and collective existence is the driving force and the brain is our most important feature which we have been leveraging to achieve this, to date. These natural capabilities will continue to merge with artificial biology and supercomputers, and as a result more and more facets of human life and our abilities will be recreated/improved artificially. The Blue Brain Project is as good an example of this process as any.
Does it matter if it’s the continuous consciousness of the original, or would the copy be alive anyway?
The robots are robots, they will do programmed work only. There is no creativity . Mechanised work is very different work from smart work. The only accomplishment here is to perpetuate an asshole’s characteristics indefinitely in a machine. If he/she did not learn to be a better person in 50 – 70 years, what makes anyone think that they will learn in 500 – 700 years? The ultimate question here if we go literally digital to conquer death, how will we ever be certain it is really us or just a really clever copy? If we could be digitized, we would still suffer the treachery we have always demonstrated. It could be detrimental to basically create a sentient computer with unlimited and instantaneous recall of the entire sum of human knowledgee and the motivations and memories of a human being. Ambition in artificial intelligence would be wise to avoid, but if we create it we must assume the evolution to self awareness will be achieved in exponential leaps at speeds we are not repaired for.
The Future of World… Maybe for man, but for mankind?
Looking forward to 2050, the future of mankind rests in transitioning to a Type 1 civilization…We are a Type 0, they go extinct… We are about to become demigods. Probably, we will merge with our processing technology and each of us will have his or her own virtual universe to rule over with absolute control over every aspect of it, and millions of planets with countless “life” forms in it (which we may control or merge with as well). Just as programmers of video games have absolute control over the worlds they create. Immortals, omniscient and omnipresent, all-powerful over our own universes. And of course, capable of exploring THIS universe as well, maybe directly contacting its Creating Entity and finding out we are characters in His game… The LAST question for us then, will be: Ethics and maturity. Will we be content to own just one universe? Or will power drive us mad and turn us into “universe conquerors”, hacking into others´universes, based on greed, on the desire for yet more power? Will we be good? Or evil? Or both? Will we be capable of achieving wisdom, insuring a peaceful and harmonious coexistence with all the other demigods, or will we go to war? Or will we all merge into one hyperentity? Or will we one day get tired of godhood and start the ultimate game all over again, turning ourselves into a Universe which will have to evolve for billions of years till it inevitably one day re-creates…US? Perhaps that is exactly what is happening?