A chilling look into our future if we survive another million years : ScienceAlert

A chilling look into our future if we survive another million years : ScienceAlert

Most species are transient. They die out, branch into new species, or change over time due to random mutations and environmental changes. It can be expected that there is a typical type of mammal million years.

modern people, A wise man, have existed for about 300,000 years. So what will happen if we make it to a million years?

Science fiction author HG Wells was the first to realize that humans could evolve into something very alien.

In his 1883 essay Man in a million years, he envisioned what has now become a cliché: creatures with big brains and small bodies. He later speculated that humans might also split into two or more new species.

While Wells’s evolutionary models have not stood the test of time, the three basic options he considered still hold true. We could die out, morph into several species, or change.

An additional ingredient is that we have biotechnology that could greatly increase the likelihood of each of these.

Technologies in the foreseeable future such as human enhancement (making ourselves smarter, stronger or otherwise better using drugs, microchips, genetics or other technology), brain emulation (implanting our brains into computers) or artificial intelligence (AI) can produce technological forms of new species not seen in biology.

Software intelligence and AI

It is impossible to perfectly predict the future. It depends on essentially random factors: ideas and actions, as well as currently unknown technological and biological constraints.

But it’s my job to explore the possibilities, and I think the most likely case is massive “speciation” – when a species splits into several others.

There are many among us who want to improve the human condition—by slowing and reversing aging, improving intelligence and mood, and changing bodies—potentially leading to new species.

These visions, however, leave many cold.

It is possible that even if these technologies become as cheap and ubiquitous as cell phones, some people will reject them on principle and build their self-image of being “normal” people.

In the long run, we should expect the most advanced humans, generation by generation (or upgrade by upgrade), to become one or more fundamentally different “posthuman” species – and the kind of self-proclaimed “real people” supporters.

Through brain emulationspeculative technology in which the brain is scanned at the cellular level and then the equivalent neural network is reconstructed in a computer to create “software intelligence”, we could go even further.

This is not mere speciation, it is the leaving of the animal kingdom to the mineral, that is, the software kingdom.

There are many reasons why some might do this, such as increasing their chances of immortality (by creating copies and backups) or simply traveling through the internet or radio into space.

Software intelligence has other benefits as well. It can be very resource efficient – the virtual being only needs energy from sunlight and rock material to make microchips.

It can also think and change on time scales that set computation, probably millions of times faster than biological minds. It can evolve in new ways – it just needs a software update.

However, it is unlikely that humanity will remain the only intelligent species on the planet.

Artificial intelligence is currently advancing rapidly. Although there are deep uncertainties and disagreements about when or if it will become conscious, artificial general intelligence (meaning it can understand or learn any intellectual problems like a human, rather than specializing in specific tasks) will arrive, a significant number of experts I think it is possible in this century or before.

If it can happen, it probably will. At some point, we’ll likely have a planet where humans are largely replaced by software intelligence or AI—or some combination of the two.

Utopia or dystopia?

Ultimately, it seems likely that most minds will become software. Research shows that computers will soon become more energy efficient than they are now.

Software minds also won’t need to eat or drink, which is an inefficient way to get energy, and they can conserve energy by running slower parts of the day.

That means we should be able to get many more artificial minds per kilogram of matter and watts of solar energy from human minds in the distant future. And since they can evolve rapidly, we should expect them to change significantly over time from our current mind-set.

Physical beings have a clear disadvantage compared to software beings, who move in the sluggish, strange world of matter. However, they are self-contained, unlike mobile software, which will evaporate if their data center is ever disrupted.

“Natural” people can remain in traditional societies that are very different from those of software people. This is no different from today’s Amish people, whose humble way of life is still enabled (and protected) by the surrounding United States. It is not a given that surrounding societies have to crush small and primitive societies: we have established human rights and legal protection and something similar could continue for normal people.

Is this a good future? A lot depends on your values. A good life can include meaningful relationships with other people and sustainable living in a peaceful and prosperous environment. From that perspective, strange posthumans are unnecessary; we just need to make sure the quiet little village can function (perhaps protected by invisible automation).

Some may appreciate the “human project,” an unbroken chain from our Paleolithic ancestors to our future selves, but be open to progress. They’d probably think software humans and AIs have gone too far, but they’re fine with humans evolving into strange new forms.

Others would argue that what matters is the freedom of self-expression and the pursuit of one’s life goals. Perhaps they think we should explore the post-human world extensively and see what it has to offer.

Others may value happiness, thinking, or other qualities possessed by various entities and want a future that maximizes them. Some may be hesitant, arguing that we should hedge our bets by going all the way to some extent.

Dyson sphere?

Here is the prediction for the year of the million. Some people are more or less like us – but there are fewer of them than now. Most of the area is wilderness, which has turned into a rewilding zone because there is far less need for agriculture and cities.

Cultural sites with very different ecosystems appear here and there, carefully guarded by robots for historical or aesthetic reasons.

Trillions of artificial minds teem under the silicon canopies of the Sahara. The huge and hot data centers that power these minds once threatened to overheat the planet. Now most are orbiting the Sun, forming a growing structure – a Dyson sphere – where every watt of energy thought, consciousnesscomplexity and other weird things we don’t have words for yet.

If biological humans die out, the most likely reason (besides the present obvious and immediate threats) is a lack of respect, tolerance, and binding contracts with other post-human species. Maybe the reason to start treating our own minorities better.

Anders SandbergJames Martin Research Fellow, Institute for the Future of Humanity and Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford

This article was republished by Conversation under Creative Commons license. Read it original article.

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