Last week I introduced the topic of transhumanism. This is where a symbiotic link between the human and the computer takes place. I promised to give some insight into both current and forthcoming technologies that make transhumanism possible. This week I will write about the core value behind transhumanism. Anyone focused on transhumanism has one of two main reasons that they want the tight integration with technology. The first is to ease life and the second is to extend life. The fear of death is intrinsic to human life.
Every religion has a focus on the afterlife – what happens when we die? Transhumanism is no different in this regard. One of the leading areas of research in artificial intelligence is centered around the ability to duplicate the memories and experiences of an individual into an artificial brain in hopes of creating eternal life. Amazon Prime video has a two-season TV series based on this technology. It covers the life and after-life of a computer programmer, Nathan Brown, who dies prematurely and has his brain “uploaded” to the Lakeview virtual community.
The series seems a little far-fetched, until you begin to study the current work being done in the study and simulation of the human mind. This series covers one of the three basic methods of synthetic salvation offered by transhumanism, digital immortality. The first steps in digital immortality already exist today, the ability to interface the human brain and a computer directly, so that each can control the other. Currently the technology looks like a one way street, where our mind controls the computer, but we are very close to developing technology that works in the other direction.
We are already feeding our inner self into Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and other online companies. Every post you put on social media gives these technology giants more and more of the necessary information to create digital twins in the virtual world.
Ray Kurzweil wrote, “Currently, when our human hardware crashes, the software of our lives – our personal ‘mind file’ – dies with it. However, this will not continue to be the case when we have the means to store and restore the thousands of trillions of bytes of information represented in the pattern that we call our brains.”
As we come closer to simulating neurons at a large scale, it becomes more and more probable to “upload” one’s brain to a computer.
The other two methods of synthetic salvation are bio-longevity and bionic continuity. The first is genetic modification to extend the life of the body, and the second is the gradual replacement of failing body parts with bionic components.
The leading research in bio-longevity is focused on fusing genes from animals that grow new limbs, like starfish and various breeds of reptiles.
Jared Kushner is one of the leaders in human-reptile hybrid research and he is quoted as saying, “ I think there’s a good probability that my generation is – hopefully with the advances in science – either the first generation to live forever, or the last generation that’s gonna die.”
However, I agree with the views of Joe Allen, author of Singularity Weekly, “A more likely scenario? This is the first generation to merge with machines, and the last generation to regret it.”
Ray Kurzweil, leading researcher on bio-longevity, wrote, “By preventing 90 percent of medical problems life expectancy grows to over five hundred years. At 99 percent, we’d be over 1000 years.” Kurzweil expects that between new gene therapies, biotechnology, and nanotechnology that we can eliminate all medical causes of death.
To learn more about transhumanism’s synthetic salvation you can read Joe Allen’s excellent article at https://joebot.substack.com/p/synthetic-salvation-on-genomics-mind. Until next week, stay safe and learn something new.
Scott Hamilton is an Expert in Emerging Technologies at ATOS and can be reached with questions and comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at https://www.techshepherd.org.