You may or may not be aware of Stephen Hawking’s recent interview with the BBC, and the particularly notable comment he made about artificial intelligence, and its future within the human race.
Professor Hawking said, “The primitive forms of artificial intelligence we already have, have proved very useful. But I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”
My first thoughts upon watching the interview weren’t tinged with fear and trepidation. I was in fact, excited to hear such a bold prediction of the future. The hairs on the back of my neck rose, and I could feel my pulse quicken, at the endless possibilities… Should Professor Hawking’s words become prophetic any time soon, I can fully see me throwing myself whole-heartedly over to the ‘dark side’. I’d join the uprising A.Is, (if they’d have me, being an inferior flesh-bag and all), and commit by updating myself to an appropriately cybernetic status.
But why on Earth do I want to be mostly made up of synthetic material and electronics? Allow me to persuade you..
Sleep. The majority of people I’ve spoken to adore getting their sleep, and plenty of it too. I personally experience feelings of anxiety, over the time wasted that we take out to recharge. I end up worrying late into the night, creating mental lists about what I could be doing instead of sleeping… And ironically I end up doing very sleep at all. Imagine just being able to systematically force yourself to sleep (without sedatives), and then set the perfect time to be woken up? For an insomniac like me, that’s the ultimate dream.
With the enhanced logic and pragmatism of artificial intelligence circuitry, the human race would finally realise the advantages of doing away with the pointless trappings of ‘consumerist holidays’ – Christmas I’m looking at you. Why on earth do we feel the need to waste money on annual stupidity to ‘prove’ that we love each other, or pig out on cheap, nasty chocolate? And all those lights are just a waste of electricity (that we could be using to power ourselves with anyway). Get. Rid.
Fun fact: I’m a huge hypochondriac. I constantly diagnose myself from the most trivial of vague symptoms (OH GOD THAT’S IT THIS HEADACHE IS A TUMOUR. LORD THIS IS THE END. etc.) As super-duper cyborgs we’d just need regular ‘tune-ups’ à la Ghost in the Shell, in order to stay healthy. We wouldn’t have to worry about eating the right foods to gain enough nutrients – technology could regulate our metabolisms for us, and nutrition could be supported by injected concoctions of everything we need. How about them synthetic apples? And if you feel the need to moan about missing the taste of pizza and chocolate, then (you’re weak and natural selection is coming for you by the way) but this could be synthesised. Or perhaps even the memory synapses in our brains could be artificially fired to replicate the taste, by remembering it.
How about vastly upgraded memory storage? For your brain? …Imagine having upgrades that essentially add the capabilities of an ipod to your memory. Never forget a song you’ve heard. Delete irritating pop songs from memory (until you hear them ‘in the real world’ again that is). …Although I will admit this could cause problems financially. The music industry could quite possibly dry up, as the need to buy and download songs would be rendered obsolete – music would have to be created by rich philanthropists, or from the good of people’s robotic hearts. That is, unless Apple found a way to charge us for downloading music straight into our brains. I wouldn’t put it past them.
Ageing would be a thing of the past. No wrinkles, no slow decay into decrepitness – just cold, shiny metal. That’s one of my main fears in life y’know, becoming old and being unable to take care of myself, as I loathe the notion of being a burden on someone else. However, there is a potential argument that all your current worries about having the latest iPhone would be transferred to your own body, via the inevitable market for upgrades. Nobody’s fat anymore. Instead we’re all sad because we can’t all afford to pimp ourselves out with top-grade tech. Maybe an outmode subculture or ‘class’ would develop, for people with obsolete or outdated parts…
And perhaps the most primal, simplistic reasoning of all would be the opening up of new physical and mental abilities. Imagine being able to hurl yourself from a building and survive? Or view a cityscape by running and leaping across it? Humanity would be able to truly feel everything, that we’ve only dreamed of. Life experiences mark 2 – hedonism to the extreme. And I’m sure it would be all too obvious to mention how much our intellect could benefit from computer-like analysis abilities. The pairing of such logical intelligence, with organic human emotion and natural creativity would be an interesting concoction indeed.
I do realise that I’m being an idealistic lil’ shit, as such a technological revolution is unlikely to occur in my lifetime. Plus, I’ve probably watched/read far too much within the science-fiction genre, and have unrealistic expectations of the capabilities of future tech. But do you know the one thing that I do enjoy about being a ‘plain old human’? Our ability to have huge dreams, and aspire, and the determination and passion that stems from that. We seem to have an innate desire to constantly move forwards, and better ourselves, by simply imagining what could be. Perhaps the next step to truly bettering ourselves lies in becoming fully immersed in the technology that we already so heavily rely upon…