I am a super heroe, one among many. We are capable of accomplishments far beyond our human limits. Our date of birth no longer matters for we remain young forever. We are immortals. We don’t need to drink blood and be classified as vampires for it. Those who have a strong affinity for this type might regret that… But, we now have conquered old age, are stronger, faster, boasting tougher skin, and process data at a rate of a computer, integrate information with enhanced perceptions, have a memory function with a larger storage capacity, and perform tasks more efficiently and flawlessly. We even possess unparalleled ultra sound night vision and fly at the speed of sound… Ok, maybe not. But we no longer get sick. We are perfect. We have established a new paradigm and we rule the world.
This is no dream nor is it wishful thinking. This is a glimpse at what awaits us. Science fiction films broke uncharted grounds and allowed us to travel into many adventures and mostly these renditions have painted a picture of journeys across different environments, beings and worlds. Now science has broken new grounds – from science fiction to a near reality.
Part of me is in awe, excited by the possibilities while the other wonders where this path will lead. Will we lose ourselves irremediably if we transcend our natural abilities? Will we permanently expel the core of who we are in the pursuit of these wonders? If we become trans-human or for all intents and purposes symbiotic, a cross between human and machine, how will our evolution affect us?
This is a possible future, one of several that lay ahead. Looking over the horizon, as I like to do, we hear the whispers of our community of scientists and technology gurus regarding the extraordinary advancements they foresee and the choices we will have. Until now, our minds have stretched to envision new frontiers in many domains, from health and science to robotics and other technologies. Are we lured by false promises? Are we reaching beyond where we should? The pursuits in the fields of genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence, nano technology, and biotic are converging and will allow us to transform ourselves. Genetic engineering is no longer impossibility or the tempting and yet far away goal we could only pretend to strive for once upon a time. It is here today and it is real.
While for centuries, we have reshaped the world around us, changing our external environment and improving our surroundings, this era brings about a new proclivity – that of advancing ourselves for the age of the machine. In our near future, we will center our attention to ourselves and make improvements on who we are, and how we can be. As Professor Robert White, the famous neuro surgeon, so aptly put it in the documentary Trans Human we are now redesigning ourselves. We have become the focused object of our whim and desires. The big question remains, what will emerge as a result of that process?
Imagine not dying unless one selects to do so. Envision downloading yourself into a new body because the one you have is falling apart after performing well for more than one hundred and fifty years of service. Project having the opportunity to choose a new rendition of yourself and what you will look like in the next phase of your life, taller, slimmer, green eyes instead of brown, blond hair instead of black? And in that transition, carrying over your personality as you wish it to be. Even stranger than fiction, download yourself into a computer for a while and join the realm of virtual reality or maybe not… Some of this is awesome, tempting, alluring even. I for one would very much like to see that. After all, I want to experience things I have not yet explored, accomplish goals I have not yet reached, and now I may have plenty of time to do so. Who will pass this up? Who can pass this up?
We have little choice for if we are to maintain a fighting chance to keep up with our technology and our computers, which will surpass us undoubtedly within the next fifty years. We are told by some that altering who we are is the only solution. Non biological intelligence is growing exponentially while biology does not. Groups of scientist ponder these issues, breaking grounds in neuroscience and nano-technologies, robotics and biotics. All these fields engender enormous implications for our future as trans-humans or symbiotic beings, in effect evolving a new specie.
Already there is talk that we will be able to transplant a human brain onto a computer, safekeeping knowledge and memories… A brain transplant was attempted from one monkey to another and worked for seven days on the new subject until the body rejected the tissues. I am not a proponent of experimenting on animals for our own betterment. I hate the idea. I wish we could use machine instead and this opens yet another dilemma, one I am fighting with on a moral level. We must find a new way to conduct experiments, a more humane way because in truth, we have no rights to undervalue life in any form.
Yet, the ability to crack our DNA code and unravel its functions so we can identify molecule capable of creating life to specifications is very much what will unlock our alteration. Gene therapy will transform DNA for organ donors so that they are not rejected… Some say our consciousness can be transplanted and our personality transferred… a computer, a younger body, a trans-human one with more efficient and effective capabilities? Where are our new limits?
These alterations will irrevocably change who we are and affect us irremediably. Our human species is yet again about to make a qualitative jump. Already, we are breaking the ATGC human genome coding telling us what genes are necessary to make a human brain or a liver. Our evolution will impact the creation of life to pre-determined specifications. And who will set those for the rest of us? These improvements open a highway where speed, proficiency and effectiveness are king and where implants play a key role as they will allow passing normal human limits. An individual accessing cyber space naturally, merging technology with biology, capable to exist in reality as well as virtually, is that what we can look forward to?
Certainly, these questions cannot yet be answered and I am certainly not the only one asking them but they are fascinating in creating a world for the future, alerting us that many components, moral and scientific can be our own undoing or presenting us with an awesome challenge that if navigated properly could mean a whole new dawn for humanity. These changes predicted by the scientific and technological community are quite staggering. If we are to take our cues not only from our world scientists but also our leaders, the latest 2013 Davos Summit included on its official agenda the topic of Brain Power and Immortality along with Aliens. The emergence of a brand new frontier has already reached us. What we design today will come to pass soon and this awesome responsibility rests squarely on all our shoulders for we can help pave what lies ahead…
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