MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
Due to rapid advances in technology, our world is slowly progressing to the point where we may surpass human limitations.
The rapid expansion of technology has radically transformed our social landscape. We now live lives that are inoculated with mass information which has placed everyone behind computer screens and gazing into our cell phones. Society has become more abstract, and it has leaped into a hyper real experience through virtual reality, fabricated with images that are dissociated from the facts and events of the world.
With life becoming more and more efficient through emerging technologies, humanity is struggling to keep up with our rate of progression.
Transhumanism beckons and beguiles us to evolve beyond our current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology.
We know that the future is becoming a genomic mutagenic playing field through genetic engineering, nanotechnology, Artificial Intelligence, and other breakthroughs meant to give us all a say in how the body can be modified to our satisfaction.
Designer bodies, designer babies, advanced reproduction systems and mechanical body parts are all on the horizon to keep us in state of virtual perfection. However, it is arguable as to how perfect the body can be through transmogrification.
We are promised a Techtopia where humanity will progress to a point of surpassing human limitations such as ”death, disease and other biological frailties.
The three main goals of transhumanism are achieving super-longevity, super-intelligence, and super-wellbeing. These goals can be achieved through our rapid technological advancements. Super-longevity is becoming more and more likely with our ever advancing medicine and drug development. Through genetic engineering and genome editing, scientists are now able to cure what were once incurable diseases.
Proponents of transhumanism envision a human that goes beyond its current biology and cognition. They are trying to move society into the next stage of human development where man achieves super-intelligence and emotional well-being. Transhumanists ask, “If humans can interfere with the process of evolution, is it possible for us to create a human being with greater capacities than what we are now? Can we make a human species without weakness of disease and illness, anger and sadness, and ultimately overcome death itself?”
Some see such a technologically driven future as not just desirable, but a necessity. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX indicated an inevitability of humans to symbiotically bond with artificial intelligence if the human species were to remain relevant. This call for humanity’s radical makeover comes right at the midst of the digital age, where Homo sapiens, with the progress of science and technology, are crossing the Rubicon, challenging physical boundaries and organic biological limitations.
The coming of a post-human era promises to alleviate suffering, make us stronger, more intelligent and godlike. Transhumanists try to bring eternal life through insemination of machine intelligence into the human body. By combining big data with AI software, the idea is already there for humanity to attain digital immortality, where one can develop mind clones of oneself that has its own life on the web.
It was reported last month that scientists at the University of California in San Diego have grown pea-sized brains in petri dishes from lumps of tissue taken from fossil bones of the Neanderthals.
They compared these with modern human brains to find out why Neanderthals went extinct while homo sapiens colonized the whole planet.
Now they want to link these caveman brains to robots using neural implants, to make real-life cyborgs. Neanderthals went extinct 40,000 years ago, but we are discovering more and more about their sophisticated societies all the time.
They want to combine the robot with the brain in order to test its ability to learn.
By doing this systematically, scientists claim that they will learn what the genetic alterations are that made us uniquely human and why humans were positively selected.
As we can see scientists are well on their way to create a thinking robot with an organic brain where a digital soul can be downloaded into it.
It took scientists about six to eight months to grow the mini-Neanderthal brains from stem cells. Even though they are fully grown, they still measure only about half a centimeter in length.
The Neanderthal mini brains are described as having lumpy, popcorn-like shapes.
It appears that this experiment shows that these technocrat experiments have whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it does with transcending the human condition.
It generates Frankenstein monster fears all over again.
While there is nothing wrong with having optimistic appraisals of how technology might benefit human society, there seems to be this current drive for a post-human utopia – sort of techtopia that would be part or most of the world of tomorrow.
What is happening is less a vision for the wholesale migration of humanity to a new a state of being than a quest to transcend all that is human: the body, interdependence, compassion, vulnerability, and complexity.
As technology philosophers have been pointing out for years, now, the transhumanist vision too easily reduces all of reality to data, concluding that “humans are nothing but information-processing objects.”
The idea of fusion with technology as the next stage in human evolution can speak to the narcissism of the technocracy.
Much of this narcissism is being created by the social media attention culture. The transhuman cause can be marketed by appealing to one’s desire for recognition, to be boundless and to attain mastery of oneself. It is marketed as achieving a sense of super-humanity – superiority over the weaker organic life that god created.
The idea of technological godhood and its advantages is already being acclimated through social engineering.
This techtopia does not come for free. One has to pay a heavy price for the ticket to this supposed heaven on earth. In the exchange to transcend human limitations, we are asked to give up the essence of being human.
Humans are endowed with subjectivity that places them in a relationship with the world. With this self-awareness, we are given the freedom to determine the course of our own actions.
While machines can only do what they are programmed to do, humans with intention can choose their actions and alter the situation through insight and creativity. This freedom releases spontaneity and variation, making the environment not fixed and unpredictable. At the same time, out of this comes the potential for errors. Choices expose men to the propensity for mistakes and make them fallible.
The AI trend of the technological intervention of humanity now threatens this ability to make choices. Automation narrows and eliminates the space for humans to make their own decisions, locking society into a deterministic future. Through scientific and mathematical precision, the force of mechanization tries to remove possibilities for errors and by doing so; it deprives something essential about human beings.
What makes us different from these artificial beings is our free will and unique learning processes that are associated with it. Our connection to the world binds us deeply to the consequences of our own choices. In a moment we make a mistake, reality blows up in our face and we are forced to see the results of what we have created.
It’s a reduction of human evolution to a video game that someone wins by finding the escape hatch and then we realize that the escape hatch is being part of a breakaway civilization that puts man in various compounds or places them on planets with harsh environments.
The more committed we are to this view of the world, the more we come to see human beings as the problem and technology as the solution. The very essence of what it means to be human is now being reduced to that of a fly or a pest that is being swatted away with the robotic hand and slapped if it doesn’t show good behavior.
We have already befriended our simple empathetic Artificial Intelligence. We are kind of lolled into believing that they wish to acquiesce to our wishes.
It is the real deception as it augments reality.
Machines have no embedded biases because technologies are rendered neutral – they do what they are programmed to do. However, given a moment where they gain more intelligence, they can and will outmode us and we must be careful and vigilant that they don’t enslave us.
Ultimately, according to the technotopian orthodoxy, the human future climaxes by uploading our consciousness to a computer or, perhaps better, accepting that technology itself is our evolutionary successor. Like members of a gnostic cult, we long to enter the next transcendent phase of our development, shedding our bodies and leaving them behind, along with our sins and troubles.
Agendas behind transhumanist movements can be seen as the ultimate goal of transnational corporations. The rise of corporate power turned civilization against nature. Multinational agricultural biotechnology corporations like Monsanto have assaulted life by monopolizing seeds and poisoning food with GMOs.
The genetically modified foods, genetically modified people and mechanized cyborgs will eventually turn humans into mere caricature of what they once were.
Transhumanists generally fall into two categories: strong and weak. Weak transhumanists believe that technology should be used to simply enhance humanity, whether that be intelligence, appearance, and life span.
Strong transhumanists on the other hand have the radical belief that technology should be used to develop humans to another species all together.
The ideas advocated by weak transhumanists are already accepted by many in today’s world, and the development of drugs and nanotechnology to help solve medical issues is already seen as ethical by a majority.
Strong transhumanist goals to develop a new species entirely, is met with accusations that it’s unethical and unlikely to happen.
In the Techtopian era, the mechanized Gods will make decisions about things we has humans use to see as a challenge. However, the robots will be used as servants up until the point of singularity and then man will no longer be treated as a human being.
Workers will be exploited, being treated as disposable with no benefits, while mega-corporations look for the next cheap labor to exploit and new markets to make a killing.
The merciless cyborg with its callous skin controls world finance, turning all living beings into cartoons or puppets in their tyrannical fantasy.
In this artificial natural selection pushed forward by the invisible hands of the market, the cold algorithm enacts financial terrorism, dictating who should survive and who should die.
Researchers at Stanford University’s School of Medicine have released an algorithm that can analyze your chances of survival after an accident or after being stricken with something like cancer or a heart attack.
In an article for The Wall Street Journal, Lloyd Minor, a dean with Stanford’s School of Medicine, said that AI was able to independently figure out when a person would pass away nine out of 10 times.
Minor was quick to explain that AI is by no means going to replace a doctor, acknowledging the dystopian feel of using AI in medical care and stressing that in the end, it would potentially act as a tool for physicians to use in helping to design end-of-life care.
I don’t know about you, but it would not be my choice to hear a cold robot tell me when I was going to die. Nor would I want a cold robot doing anything to my body without the assistance of a real doctor.
I say this because when I had my kidney cancer surgery a surgeon in Portland assisted another doctor at UCLA that used the Da Vinci arms to do my surgery. Literally, controlling robot arms from another location.
The Da Vinci System is powered by robotic technology that allows the surgeon’s hand movements to be translated into smaller, precise movements of tiny instruments inside the patient’s body.
It was announced in the Los Angeles times this week that China plans to dominate AI, with a vanguard of robotic doctors called “Biomind.”
Biomind was developed in a joint venture between a Singaporean tech company, Hanalytics, and China’s prestigious Tiantan Hospital.
Since December, when the venture started up, tens of thousands of medical images collected over a decade have been used to teach Biomind its job. After months of deep learning, the machine was ready for a competition against 25 experienced doctors at Beijing’s China National Convention Center testing their ability to analyze images of the brain.
This is similar as when Gary Casperov played a game of chess against the computer, Deep Blue.
With artificial nerves that can’t carry the warmth of blood, robots mimic life in their synthetic existence. They are the phantoms that claim immortality when they never even had a chance to truly live. It is the mechanical Pinocchio that wants to be a real boy – and from there a soldier, a doctor, or even a consultant. Who knows, maybe in the future a cyborg can be President.
This reminds me of the short science fiction story by Phillip K. Dick called “The Mold of Yancy.” It was a story dealing with a small planet that was placated by a man who is their leader. Their leader we realize is a computer generated man named Yancy. There are several things that Yancy says and does and the image is so life like that people don’t even realize that he is some animatronic puppet that has words put into his mouth by several “Yancmen.”
Yancy controls public perception. But some aren’t happy with what Yancy is creating. The story illustrated how conformity can be used as a psychological tool and if you create an all American Icon that is a cross between Ronald Reagan and George Orwell’s big brother, the people will not care about things like foreign policy and terrorism. They will only care about what the devil in the box has to say and what the graven image of a manufactured messiah can do for national morale.
Yancy is a manufactured media phenomenon rather than a real person, and we can say the same can be said for Donald Trump. Not that Trump is an A.I.; however, he once was a TV media personality molded and shaped by a court of public opinion. He is still being shaped and attacked by the same court of public opinion.
We are hard pressed to know of any of his accomplishments because the algorithms have hijacked his Presidency and the divisiveness of meddling propaganda makes him larger than life.
He truly may not be the president we want – he is the president we deserve. All of this leads us down the primrose path of techtopia with tech gods ruling us from their thrones, using technical drones and robot cops to enforce the laws.
Being human in the future will not be about individual survival or escape. It will be how we live together fighting against our cybernetic overlords.