The Evolution of the Mind through the Machine.
Will the Future of Human Biology be Made in Circuitry?
I recently watched the film Ex Machina. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a thriller, a sci-fi, a mystery, or a something in between film. The basic plot follows a Turing test between an employee for a grandiose company, and a machine invented by that companies founder. A machine that appears to be able to think, feel, imagine, create and dream just like a human being. I won’t get into anymore of the plot, as the administration of this test is one of the best points of the film, but the combination between human consciousness, our minds, and cyborg like augmentations to our bodies is becoming a growing topic. Where this comes to mind more is how augmentation would play into how many perceive the existence of true Artificial Intelligence. Even brilliant scientists like Stephen Hawking and those knowledgeable within the software industry like Bill Gates.
My proposal is that we lay within sight of our solution: cybernetic augmentation. I feel like the biggest fear comes from the natural computers we are born with, our brains. Currently the reigning champion for the greatest computer ever created, nature did a pretty good job at designing a processing tool that can control so much, solve problems so quickly, and function intelligently on levels we have yet to achieve with our technology. The thing is, we are getting closer and closer to beating ourselves as we build more efficient machines and better algorithms for decision making. The problem is, human brains are stagnant. They haven’t changed much for the past 10,000 years or so, and technology as in the span of less than 100 almost caught up. To be able to think as well as computers, we are going to need to be able to upgrade as fast as they do.
Modern cognitive psychology outlines the brain very much like a computer, with one of biggest strengths being that humans are active information processors. We are always processing, even in rest we exercise our ability to do so because of the phenomenon’s nature as a critical piece to our functioning and survival. What computer scientists and neurologists alike seem to be working towards is a combination of these two mediums for information processing so that our natural ones become stronger in some aspect. Perhaps the biological algorithms that account for memory could be improved so our long term memory were not only more efficient in storage, but in recollection as well. Computers have a distinct advantage of being able to quickly locate the information they need. This is one area that our brains must be able to evolve in if humans are to stay in competition with machines. The best part though, is that this idea of human mental augmentation is not for some terminator like war of man vs machine. Rather it would create a symbiotic relationship between two intelligent beings. As we evolved, we could find ways for them to.
Now there are a lot of other things that need to be considered when talking about bridging human consciousness with that of a machine. Things like emotion, feeling, dreams, all are very complex and we still have very little idea on how these can translate to a computer, if they can at all. As well, ethics to the possibility of installing hardware and software to a human mind, prospects of privacy, even freewill, certainly need discussion, and we’re year away from even needing to consider the possibilities of this.
The most important thing to take away is that the future is coming, and it’s already presenting concepts we have barely begun to have discussion on. Still, the consideration to solutions is necessary. Even when the solution would seem crazy, and it certainly is a bit off in the way we think of the problem. None the less, perhaps the best way for humanity to survive the robot revolution, is to embrace it.