Man is nature’s supreme creation. It took evolution billions of hu-man years to achieve this level of perfection. The question is.. what lies next?
Is it heading anywhere at all? Does it need to head anywhere? Maybe we are already perfect and there is nothing more to be gained by further individual enhancement?
If we were to evolve, what would it be? A larger/denser brain in proportion to the rest of the body? Or will one day a child be born who grows up to have a usable set of wings on his back?
But what if our mental capacities have already advanced so much that we have in effect taken control of our own evolution? Survival of the fittest certainly no longer plays a very strong role in human reproduction. Is it not possible that we are actually de-evolving because natural selection is violated so grossly in the human species compared to all the others? Or is it possible that because of our innate goodness in saving the doomed, it actually prevents our gene pool from getting stuck in a local maxima, and thus provides an ever widening tapestry from which a seriously more advanced species could one day spring forth?
What about the notorious “human-computer” interface, certain to happen in the next few years? Will that be a moment accepted as the next step in the “evolution” of the human race? Men, women, children all extendable, enhanceable with off the shelf kits pluggable directly into a usb 6.0 connector in the belly button.
It is easy to imagine that most of these kits will have some “intelligence” of their own, to make their control interface as intuitive and adaptive as possible. But could one day a “brain extender” kit be sold as well? Plug it in, and after a few minutes of training, perform complex mathematical calculations just by thinking. The answers will just appear as images out of nowhere.
Is this really a “brain extender” or is it just a calculator with an enhanced interface? Should they be treated different?
How about a “memory extender”? Something that allows recall, at will, of certain real observed events. But what about memories generated from non-observed events, like dreams? And what about the memories generated from learning how to solve a complex puzzle? I doubt this is going to happen for a long time.
And, of course, what about the famed “singularity”? Is it something “bound to happen” as per the laws of nature and evolution, or is it just a pipe dream? If it took Man billions of years to evolve as he is, why should it take intelligent machines only 50-100 years to reach beyond him? The only way nature would allow it is if the machine was indistinguishable from the offspring of man. The intelligence of man evolved in conjunction and as a consequence of the included body, so why should nature endow a machine with the same or higher intelligence, but without mandating a similarly or more capable “container”.
There is a seemingly easy answer to the above conundrum. If, even for a fleeting duration, someone somewhere creates a truly intelligent entity, then it will be clever enough to do something to ensure its own survival. The proverbial electrification of the power cord to prevent its being pulled out by a puny hu-man. The singular event which will raise the hair on the back of the scientist’s neck, when he suddenly realises what happened. The birth of the hu-machine race.
Yes, this will happen one day. The hu-machines will engage in a struggle with the hu-mans, if only to steal the right to build a better “container” for their “brains”.
If someone someday claims to have built a true intelligence, then his/her claim is false if the above struggle does not ensue soon thereafter.
How is our evolution to be defined then? Can silicon diodes and transistors be the successor to the hu-man race?
Possibly the hu-machines are created at a time when carbon, not silicon, has become the dominant computing element. Perhaps every chip is modelled as a cell with a genome, and reproduction is afforded by means of visiting a replication facility (aka a breeding site programmed in before birth, always reachable by following the magnetic lines generated from the poles of the earth). Millions of hu-machines wills simply inject their genomic code into a receptor wall, and the “creator” will proceed to randomly combine the donors into mates and create an offspring genome, and push the code into the factory’s manufacturing queue.
Now why should this new intelligent race should be billed as the “successor” to the human race, on the evolutionary spectrum? Rather, I believe, that when this new race does become a reality, it will pose the first real threat to the dominance of mankind, and THAT is what will quickly press the natural selection trigger in the human race. Whosoever has a way of dealing with the machines, will have the upper hand, and those who don’t, well, good luck.