Enough about Artificial Intelligence. What about Human Intelligence of the Future?

Iconic Austin, TX © Paula Creevy

What will come of developments in AI is hard to imagine even for those directly involved in its advance. Economic and social theory are a whirlwind of forecasts on the scale of gloomy to horrifying.

Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, in his latest book chooses the stinging word ‘useless’ to classify the economic sway of humans who will live, jobless and likely powerless, in a largely automated world.

The debate about Universal Basic Income has begun.

The jokes about robot overlords and the overlords’ overlords (think: a small handful of humans) have turned serious.

The political and economic influence of the individual and the collective are springing sharply to many minds.

This has become more, I hope, than the concern about robots outperforming their human counterparts. They already do.

Many significant transformations in history have led us to consider our own perpetual question. Who are we? Who am I? What is control? Happiness? Freedom? Is power money or multitudes? To whom am I beholden? What defines me, and us?

But so far progress, if we call it that, has allowed most humans to avoid this internal scrutiny, on the backs of the impoverished and on poverty, on slaves and slavery, on domesticated animals, on intoxicants, entertainment, denial and propaganda.

But what about even more lives changing even more radically, and within the historical context of change, all at once?

Human intelligence is our willingness to imagine the future as we think may be, and then to imagine the future we want. It’s a commitment to the flexibility of our evolution more than to anything ingrained from the past, including dire predictions. There’s no way to ignore the evaluations of intellectual leaders without emphasizing our discomfort with the fact that we still aren’t quite sure what a human is.

As the latest science fiction comes to reality, I notice that throughout history no prediction has ever been complete. Evolution stitches us to our ancestors and can suggest but not determine a future. We have not defined ourselves because we are always defining. We are the fortune-tellers.

I see future humans driven by creative impulse, surrounded and engaged with scientific illumination, mathematical advances, more art than ever before, more music to love and more athletics, all confined only by imagination and curiosity. I see the expansion of human experience not at the expense of the lives and livelihoods of others. I see humans not dampened and discouraged by the state but cultivating lively communities where people are safe. I see us prolific and peaceful.

Whatever it is, the future is coming. What would you like it to be?