Virtual Humanity

I watch the days slowly digitize and the wind unwind into glitter as we take one further step into Design Valley. It’s become easier than ever to identify machines from humans right now and it’s starting to make me feel a little bit nervous. Time is running out. I can’t wait for the day that I question whether the person standing next to me is a machine. I can’t wait for the day that I can have limitless energy and charge in my sleep. I can’t wait for the day that Siri responds to my questions instead of constantly, aimlessly searching the interweb for anything and everything that’s somehow somewhere loosely linked to what I’ve asked him.

The only thing that’s really missing to humanise robots is a soul, empathy and the ability to make non-programmatic choices, something that the best of us claim to have and do. Soul is defined as the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal. It is also described as motional or intellectual energy or intensity, especially as revealed in a work of art or an artistic performance which has more relevance than the former in this instance (having an immortal soul is a belief by early Christian philosophers and just like not everyone believes in unicorns, Santa and the tooth fairy, not everyone believes in immortality).

As a subject of matter with a soul, I am constantly thinking of ways to digitalise myself and my soul. My mind and body have been through enough and in happy to surrender myself to being a programmed digital zombie. Especially in London. No one likes a crybaby and I can’t remember someone who shouted or got angry got any kudos. I learnt at a very young age that jealousy is not a good look and to emotionally detach myself from any situation if it wasn’t making me feel good. As a fan of the Lion King, my only emotional flaws are laughing in the face of danger and I sometimes need to take life more seriously and/or work on my poker face just so I can play the game properly. But, that’s not too much of a flaw.

Professor Harari, who has written a major book on the history of humanity, said people will not be able to resist upgrading themselves using genetic engineering and technology. This could mean that we could be walking into the age where we can program ourselves to function and where we can finally genetically modify our brain or body to feel and do whatever we want. Exciting stuff. This means people could actually live in a machine.

Dr Hannah Critchlow said a computer could be built that would recreate the 100 trillion connections in the human brain. If so, it would be possible for people to live on inside a programme. She said: If you had a computer that could make those 100 trillion circuit connections [in the brain] then that circuit is what makes us, so it would be possible.

I don’t see that being too difficult with the way the digital age is starting to blossom into modern realms. People are starting to lack more and more substance everyday – hearts are becoming almost non existent and I can’t remember the last time I read a TimeOut with no mention of Robots. Three weeks in a row robot Museums, ten greatest robots, robot Exhibitions. I can’t complain. I think I like it.

We’ve still got a little bit of a way to go and haven’t quite mastered creating Terminator just yet, but as we walk further and further forward into digital and artificial intelligence advances there is an ultimate decision to be made. We as individuals need to augment our brain power with digital technology to prevent us becoming irrelevant. Survival of the fittest is simple, the more well adapted creature will survive better than the less well adapted creature, meaning eventually the inferior creatures will vanish leading to that species (robot or “human”) improving.