Leading scientists fear the 21st century may be ‘humanity’s last’ and that soon we may all be replaced by ‘genetically engineered super-men’ and ‘cyborgs’, which all sounds a bit worrying, to be honest.
Doctor Seth Shostak of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, California has made the bold claim that three big scientific advances are on the verge of transforming the human race forever.
We can eventually produce offspring that are as different from us as dogs are from gray wolves. The haphazard, bottom-up alterations to our species occasioned by Darwinian evolution will yield to the directed improvements of future engineers.
Basically, this means new technology will allow us to evolve down paths we choose, as opposed to the path nature decides, potentially splintering the species.
In a piece on the SETI website he says three technologies – genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and space travel – have the power to change the human race forever. He argues that developing artificial intelligence may be the most dangerous.
The development of general artificial intelligence will surely be the most dramatic driver of change, because it is less a matter of improving our descendants than replacing them with our engineered successors.
The doctor even claims the human race may slowly ‘merge’ with machines and uploading our personalities to machines is not outside the realms of possibility. He dramatically warns the ‘result will not be Homo sapiens as we’ve known [them] for 50 thousand years.’
Doctor Shostak’s comments may seem outrageous but they mirror those of the esteemed scientist Stephen Hawking, who warned that humanity faces its most dangerous century yet.
The famous physicist says as we progress in science and technology it becomes an ever greater threat to our existence.
Speaking to the Radio Times, Hawking warned the chances of disaster on planet Earth will rise to a near certainty in the next one to ten thousand years. Hawking also said it was necessary for mankind to colonise the solar system in the next century if we are to survive as a species.
He went on to add that one of the biggest threats humans now face is advances in science and technology, such as nuclear weapons and genetically engineered viruses.
We are not going to stop making progress, or reverse it, so we must recognise the dangers and control them.
Despite all the doom and gloom surrounding technology, it’s important to remember that tech itself isn’t a bad thing and many of the greatest achievements humanity has made have come from people pushing the boundaries of technology forward.