The age of the superhuman is upon us.
We already possess access to monstrous volumes of data instantly — more than at any point in human history — the only thing we struggle with is the capacity to instantaneously deduce the information we require. In short, we have a bandwidth problem which prevents us taking the next step. We lack the instant connection to data that is required; instead, we must parse it physically instead of accessing it mentally by simply thinking. This limitation is currently hampering our progress but it is the only obstacle that stands between humanity and the next evolutionary step. We won’t always have to drink from the well of cumulative human knowledge with a straw while relying on the capacity of our memory.
Augmented reality and Apples push towards voice commands are the next stage of this slow march, they are both iterative steps towards the ultimate goal, but they still require a physical input which can be seen or heard. The next stage is subconscious search with imperceptible feedback endowing us with infinite recall. Currently, in order to access emails, messages, or metrics we must consume time. Imagine a world where as soon as you think something it has already occurred, the transfer of data is infinite which erodes the boundaries of our competence. Crucially, our ability to comprehend, distil and respond to infinite information would still be contingent on our own perception/intelligence, only, we wouldn’t have to waste energy or time finding the information we need to inform our opinions or form conclusions.
Undoubtedly, the next step if monumental. It’s one thing to have access to the equivalent of a super computer in the palm of your hands but to create a biological cognitive connection which allows you to access search simply by thinking is another thing entirely. It requires a way to translate cognitive function into actionable inputs while simultaneously translating the output into an electrical signal which can be understood by our brains.
The next frontier is within this interface. How can our ingenuity enable an unprecedented connection between the body, mind and technology? Intuition should drive our attention instead of stealing it.
Of course, the discussion is fraught with questions of morality, once our thoughts control computers what stops the opposite being true? Just now we control our machines with the touch of a button or a voice command, we are so clearly in control, except maybe we are not. Technology interrupts our concentration with notifications incessantly and we are increasingly ceding control to our environment through nest and autonomous vehicles.
Viewing things as sacrosanct is backwards. Every iterative technological development has been with a view to enabling progress and to resist at this point seems futile. Development is inevitable if progress isn’t prevented by government. But that will only push the practice into the shadows, people will pursue it because it makes sense. It’s like gene therapy and DNA alteration if we can eradicate disease surely that’s a good thing? The argument of playing God no longer washes; invasive procedures, drugs and vaccinations are all forms of progress. We have outstripped evolution through intelligence and ingenuity by escaping the sentence of genetic death from almost every disease.
What if during our fixation on the potential of AI, robots and technology replacing or detrimentally affecting humans we have missed an opportunity staring us in the face. What if the next dawn is augmented personal intelligence? Artificial intelligence is simply democratisation of repetitive analytics or actions to a machine. Augmented intelligence could make us capable of understanding quantities of data currently inconceivable ensuring our participation in progress. Simultaneous development and progress makes the most sense, we can leverage both to become more efficient.
Inversion of the function is equally as enticing. Imagine our memories becoming re-liveable or even shareable. Imagine being able to experience the teaching of a book by cognitively experiencing it. Imagine the distribution of shared knowledge and experience universally.
All of which emboldens my imagined future of probable possibilities. Inter-connectivity and the internet of things wouldn’t be confined only to machines. Our connection to the network could be absolute with our ease for disconnection increased exponentially. Cross country communication would occur at almost the speed of light, we can see our emails, we can search online, but we could escape whenever we needed to by ‘turning off’. Artificial intelligence could work with us to ensure our focus was never interrupted.
What if ‘I think therefore I am’ evolves to becomes ‘I think therefore I know’.
The paradigm of the human-technology relationship becomes one of partnership. We are able to fully profit from the ingenuity of our creation by integrating the interface within our biological makeup. We already utilise pacemakers to regulate our sustenance, perhaps embracing technology is what ensures our longevity. Extinction events could be mitigated ensuring our survival and ultimately that is the purpose of life. To live, discover, prosper and evolve.
We would be taking control of our destiny by prescribing evolutionary course. And that’s what I think will colour the next hundred years, whether we are willing to accept our potential or weakly accept our fate.
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