Human No More
The Human species has made phenomenal intellectual progress. We’ve gone from cave dwelling apes to being able to shape the world to our whims. Designing the world to fit our needs. Our constantly evolving technology has always allowed us to extend our reach, from literally using a stick to get at something at a distance, to metaphorically seeking what we do not yet have, what we are yet capable of.
But now we’re reaching our limits. Our world is becoming too complex for us to keep up with. Between all the social networks that we need to be using, all the news we need to be up to date on, all the emails we receive. There’s too much information to pay attention to, we don’t have the intellectual capacity to keep up with it. Our brains didn’t evolve to cope with it all. Even experts have trouble keeping up with the complexity of the very systems they’re experts in as pointed out in this essay.
“If you don’t have ADD today, you’re not paying attention.” — Jason Silva
Unfortunately this means that we have our work cut out for us, as this complexity, this sea of data that we are drowning in is only getting deeper. Every year the amount of data doubles, meaning that in one year we make as much data as the combination of data created every year prior. So what is to become of us in a world of ever increasing information? How will we cope?
The answer is that we won’t, at least not as humans. To keep up with the ever expanding, constantly upgrading, world we’ve created, we must also upgrade ourselves, to become capable of digesting all the information around us, to become more than human.
Humans will begin to augment themselves with technology, genetically or mechanically enhancing our cognitive capabilities in order to keep up with the expanding sea of content. But why stop at the brain when we can make ourselves faster and stronger too? Engineering humanity to be better, to surpass our biological limitations, to give us abilities we could only dream of, abilities only seen in comic books.
Scientists are already making impressive progress in these fields. They’ve been able to genetically engineer lab mice to be faster, stronger and smarter and made prosthetic limbs connected directly to the human brain which are more capable than our current limbs. But this is merely scratching the surface. Science Friction is an interesting YouTube channel which covers lots of science and technology research and how they can be applied to give us super powers.
In the quest to attain these abilities we will become super human, in doing so will also move beyond what would be considered Homo Sapien. With technology we will manufacture our own evolution, giving birth to new species.
Genetic Humans — Today we are able to genetically modify babies before they’re born, we can choose whether it’s a boy or girl, what eye colour they should have and many other traits. In animals we have created, glow in the dark rabbits, salmon that grow year round and many others. Genetic engineering has opened up the possibility to tinker with our genes and enhance ourselves beyond what nature is capable of. New techniques like CRISPR are allowing us to make incredible breakthroughs in gene editing, making possible the ability to surpass mother nature. Not only will we be able to enhance ourselves but also give ourselves abilities we don’t even have, like bio-electricity or a tail.
Cyborgs — From hearing aids to prosthetic limbs, artificial body parts started out as a way to give back abilities that were once lost. Now as the mechanics become more and more advanced these artificial body parts will start adding abilities that we never had. There’s already work being done on Sensory addition technology, devices which give you the ability to sense the world around you in new ways. One day soon we’ll have an artificial replacement for the whole body, one that we can transfer our own consciousness into. We’ll embody the very technology we created, becoming one with it, no longer interfacing with different devices but rather feeding right into the source, expanding our own minds with the processing power of our new bodies.
Virtual Citizens — Virtual Reality is steadily entering the mainstream, Oculus VR have rekindled the excitement in VR technology. With it’s flame lit many exciting developments are in store for VR. Virtual worlds will become so real, games so immersive that players won’t be able to distinguish the real from the virtual. The technology will allow people to plug directly into the Virtual World straight from their brain via neural implants.
But it won’t stop there, as depicted in the short film above, VR is incredibly addicting, gaming today is addicting already so the incredible immersion and massive possibilities will get people hooked. Some people won’t want to come out of the Virtual World. So that is where they’ll stay, uploading their minds directly into the Virtual World, exploring different games and experiences and creating their own as they desire, expanding their own capacities via the processing power of the servers they now inhabit.
Of course some will strongly resist augmenting themselves. Seeing the changes to be unnatural and an abomination, some may even fear the idea of losing themselves to the machine and instead opting to remain as humans. However as the technology becomes more advanced and more complicated humans will not be able to cope, the world will be moving too fast for them to keep up with.