‘Holdout Humans’: A chilling look at our future if we survive another million years

Most species are transient. They become extinct and branch into new species or change over time due to random mutations and environmental changes. The existence of a typical type of mammal can be expected for millions of years.

modern humans A wise man, has existed for nearly 300,000 years. So what will happen if we reach 1 million years?

Science fiction author H.G. Wells was the first to realize that humans could evolve into something very strange.

In his 1883 article, A million years, imagine what has now become a cliché: creatures with big brains and small bodies. Later, he speculated that humans could also split into two or more new species.

While Wells’ evolutionary models have not stood the test of time, the three basic options he considered are still valid. We can become extinct, transform into several species, or change.

An additional element is that we have biotechnology that can greatly increase the likelihood of each.

Technologies of the foreseeable future such as human augmentation (making ourselves smarter, stronger, or better using drugs, microchips, genetics, or other technologies), brain simulation (uploading our brains to computers), or artificial intelligence (AI) may produce shapes new technology. Species we have not seen in biology.

Software intelligence and artificial intelligence

It is impossible to predict the future perfectly. It is based on essentially random factors: thoughts and actions as well as currently unknown technological and biological frontiers.

But my job is to explore the possibilities, and I think the most likely case is “breeding” – when one species divides into several others.

There are many among us who would like to improve the human condition—slow and reverse aging, enhance intelligence and mood, and transform bodies—that would give rise to new species.

But these visions leave many cold.

It is plausible 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 out of “normal” human beings.

In the long run, we should expect the most enhanced people, generation after generation (or upgrade after upgrade), to become one or more “posthuman” species – and types of bastions that proclaim themselves “true humans”.

With brain simulation, a speculative technology where one scans a brain at a cellular level and then reconstructs an equivalent neural network in a computer to create “software intelligence,” we can go even further.

This is not just a genre, it leaves the animal kingdom to the metal, or rather, the software kingdom.

There are many reasons some might want to do this, such as enhancing the chances of immortality (by creating copies and backups) or the ease of internet or radio space travel.

Software intelligence has other advantages as well. They can be very resource efficient – the virtual object only needs energy from sunlight and some rock material to make the microchips.

It can also think and change on time scales determined by calculations, possibly millions of times faster than biological brains. It can develop in new ways – it just needs to update the software.

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

Artificial intelligence is advancing rapidly at the moment. While there are deep skepticism and disagreements about when or whether it becomes conscious, artificial general intelligence (meaning it can understand or learn any intellectual problems like a human, rather than specializing in specialized tasks) will arrive, a large portion of experts believe it is possible. this century or earlier.

If it can happen, it probably will. At some point, we will likely have a planet where humans have been largely replaced by software intelligence or artificial intelligence – or a combination of the two.

Utopia or dystopia?

In the end, it seems plausible that most minds become software. Research indicates that computers will soon be more energy efficient than they are now.

Software brains also wouldn’t need to eat or drink, which are inefficient ways to get energy, and they could save energy by running slower parts of the day.

This means that we should be able to get more artificial brains per kilogram of matter and watts of solar energy than human brains in the distant future. And since they can evolve rapidly, we should expect them to change dramatically over time from our current mindset.

Physical beings have a distinct disadvantage compared to software beings, moving in the strange, slow world of matter. However, it is self-contained, unlike software that will evaporate if their data center goes down.

‘Normal’ humans may remain in traditional societies unlike in software societies. This is not unlike the Amish people today, whose humble way of life is still made possible (and protected) by the surrounding United States. It is not inconceivable that the surrounding societies should crush small and primitive societies: we have created human rights, legal protections, and something similar that can continue for ordinary human beings.

Is this a good future? Much depends on your values. The good life may involve establishing meaningful relationships with others and living in a peaceful and sustainably prosperous environment. From this perspective, there is no need for alien posthumans; We just need to make sure that the quiet little village can work (maybe protected by invisible automation).

Some may appreciate the “human project,” an unbroken chain from our Paleolithic ancestors to our future selves, but they are open to progress. They will probably view people with software and artificial intelligence as going too far, but they will be fine with humans evolving into strange new forms.

Others might argue that what matters is the freedom to express yourself and pursue your life goals. They might think we should explore the posthuman world on a grand scale and see what it has to offer.

Others may value happiness, thoughtfulness, or other qualities that different entities possess and want a future that maximizes them. Some may be uncertain, arguing that we should hedge our bets by going all paths to some degree.

dyson field?

Here’s a prophecy for a million years. Some humans are somewhat like us – but fewer in number than they are now. Much of the surface is wilderness, and has been turned into a rebuilding area since there is much less need for agriculture and cities.

Here and there, cultural sites with vastly different ecosystems appear, carefully maintained by robots for historical or aesthetic reasons.

Under the desert’s silicon canopies, trillions of artificial brains are thriving. The huge, hot data centers that power these brains once threatened to warm the planet. Now, most of them orbit the Sun, forming a growing structure — a Dyson sphere — where every watt of energy is thought, consciousness, complexity, and other weird things we don’t have words for yet.

If biological humans go extinct, the most likely reason (aside from the obvious and immediate threats of the moment) is a lack of respect, tolerance, and binding contracts with other human species. Maybe a reason to start dealing with our better minorities.

Anders Sandberg is a James Martin Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute and Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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