If there were a simulation, instead of being just one character, how about being eight billion simultaneously? Your consciousness would constantly alternate between every person in an infinitesimally small period of time, giving you the illusion that you are in the same individual continuously. Each person would have different memories, personality and context, and you would have no knowledge that your consciousness is living everywhere, in everyone.
Authoritarian governments will find it ever easier with technological advancements to zombify and control their populations. When such a government, helped by surveillance technologies and AI, is able to know what you are thinking and feeling, where you are and what you are doing, has control over all the information you receive, and knows your personality impulses precisely – what hope has anyone to escape from the hell constructed for them by the resident psychopaths? China is already a long way down this path, Russia is hurrying to this end too.
There must be a model of openness that prospers in democratic countries. The algorithms that will increasingly guide our lives should be open source and publicly reviewable. There needs to be better realtime checking of fakery, using methodology that is publicly available. There must be a culture and processes in place to ensure transparent, accountable decision-making.
The time window for getting this right is now and we may never get the chance again.
To be open with yourself and the world, and not concerned with how that is perceived, is freedom from a prison of mental constructions; however there is a lack of empathy, poetry and charm in being blunt with people, or saying anything that comes to mind. The happier circumstance is to connect beyond words.
AI assistants combined with augmented/virtual reality will transform human experience. Artists could create paintings digitally and 3D print the paintings into the physical world, automating the textured brushstrokes with the help of AI. Exact textured cloning of existing masterpiece paintings would be available as home printouts.
I’ve met some real idiots in my time, most of whom were in the mirror.
Humans came along for the ride at the halfway point between life beginning on earth, about 4 billion years ago, and life ending in another 4 billion years, with the melting of the planet’s surface under an intensifying sun. Science fiction and other human projections are typically set in the myopic near future of at most a few thousand years – well how about an amount that is actually noticeable in the life of earth, say in one billion years?
I would gladly undertake all computer activities on my phone wherever I happen to be, if functionality were comparable. Wearing special sunglasses that project personal holographic images of keyboards and screen displays would be fine, but I would not fancy wearing anything that plonks on my head and prevents my vision beyond its pixels.
It seems that in the not too distant future a person could have a digital avatar that is convincingly human. So in effect people would design or choose how they wanted to look online; or at least greatly augment their appearance.
People could look like anything and any age, in real-time video, using widespread technology!
Galaxies are micro specks in the universe, yet the nearest galaxy to Earth is tens of thousands of light years away. This should make the ego feel silly, and the heart in awe at the unimaginable immensity of it all.
There are five stages in the human expansion story:
To physically visit a planet at the intergalactic stage might be entirely irrelevant to any intelligent species that evolves to such a level to circumvent the speed of light – they may discover something fundamental to the nature of the universe that is completely incomprehensible to us, in our rudimentary stage of development.
Handwriting = 40 words per minute (wpm)
Touch-typing = 70 wpm
Speaking = 150 wpm
Listening = 150 wpm
Reading = 200 wpm
Thoughts: 1,000 to 5,000 wpm
Science fiction presents some baffling themes around causality; for example, the future is the past because events are synchronous in all places at the same time. The current everyday understanding of causality is equally bizarre, however, since a causal chain of events cannot lead back forever, without having a prime initiating point that is outside of these rules.
The implied current direction for the future is that all the functions of your phone will be migrated directly into your brain. The “screen” will be projected into your vision and options chosen by thoughts.
All vision, sound, thoughts and feelings could be recorded. You could download and replay any recording from your experiences, or indeed from any experience of anyone else. Communication by mindscapes would replace the spoken and written word.
Invented experiences could be created for you to replay or interact with.
Your perception of reality could be changed and selected thought patterns switched off.
Pleasure and pain sensations could be activated on demand.
Your thoughts could interact with an artificial intelligence that calculates the most efficient algorithm for any process you wish to undertake. You could instantly download data and skills; and have immensely augmented cognitive processing speeds.
Your mind could operate any physical body, humanoid or not. As only the brain would need to be maintained, you would potentially have ultra long life.
Of course a totalitarian regime could easily control their population by these means; and an empowered sadist would run amok in all the enslaved minds. Philosophically it makes me wonder what it is to be a human being, but in the realm of practicalities it makes me certain: humans must become worthy of the knowledge we are gaining.
200,000 years ago, anatomically modern humans in the world.
5,500 years ago, the written word begins.
475 years ago, the Scientific Revolution.
250 years ago, the Industrial Revolution.
150 years ago, the Technological Revolution.
70 years ago, digital electronic computers.
29 years ago, the Internet.
13 years ago, Smartphones & Social Media.
Another big changer due (or has already happened).
What will be the timeline in 1 billion years? The future could be completely incomprehensible from where we are now.
A pollyanna vision of the arc of technology is that if robots can do all the work at higher levels of productivity than people, then in theory everyone could be wealthy, enjoying the fruits of automated labour. People are then liberated from economic and social necessity to fully explore life; to hopefully find true beauty, love and self-actualisation – instead of struggling, worrying and fighting over limited resources to survive.
What would have happened if the US was not the first country to develop the nuclear bomb? What would have happened if the Nazis, Stalin, Mao or the Imperial Japanese Empire had the bomb first? No doubt after numerous live demonstrations on target cities, the world would have been subjugated to the particular brand of sadistic totalitarian control.
As technology progresses, additional existential threats to humanity will happen more regularly – the most frequently noted in biological engineering, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology. Technology is also making it ever easier to centrally track and control people’s behaviour, enabling the ideal conditions for any strain of despotic regime to thrive.
The pressure to evolve to survive is growing for humanity; given the stakes and the alternatives, we have to get better.