Prolog to my book

DISCUSSIONE | 1 Intervento | Creata da alan.hoshor@gmail.com |
Ultimo aggiornamento: 19 giugno 2011 | Iniziata: 19 giugno 2011
alan.hoshor@gmail.com alan.hoshor@gmail.com ha scritto: Humanity is in the midst of the single most dramatic change that Homo sapiens (our species) will ever experience. The human race is heading toward trouble. The trouble is of our own making and is unavoidable. Our primary crisis is that we have deduced the biology of genetics. Humanity is in the first steps of self-modifying our own species. This is unique on Earth; a living organism that can use its intelligence to redesign itself. No longer are thousands of years of evolution required. We will be modifying our own genome in one human generation.

This book is a collection of essays that attempt a balanced view of various topics that will influence our next century. There are many futurologists from the twentieth century that have shown deep insight into our future. I quote references from many of them in this prolog and throughout this book. I have included no bibliography and do not present my work as one of scientific research. Most of the ideas I present are best articulated by their referenced authors. What is unique to this book is that it is intended to persuade a variety of readers that our children are going to have a more dramatic influence on the destiny of humanity than any past or future generation. Much of what I have written here will cause your common sense to rebel. I ask only that you judge for yourself the path that humanity is on so that the choices we collectively make in the twenty-first century are as informed as possible. Most futurists are in agreement that the human experience will change more in the next century than in the previous 10,000 years. I try to realistically evaluate these forces for change and project some of the highly probable consequences to humanity.

For those readers familiar with historical predictions of impending calamity; they will recognize that such warnings have been a part of all recorded history. In the middle ages, the cross-bow threatened the end; later came the invention of dynamite; most recently, nuclear weapons threatened cataclysm. Still humankind has managed to survive and prosper. Many futurists believe we are currently facing what Vernor Vinge is credited as defining as a technological singularity. The consequences of this singularity on humanity are hotly debated. In his thoughtful book, Radical Evolution – The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies—and What It Means to Be Human, Joel Garreau has termed the prospect of humanity muddling through ‘The Prevail Scenario’. Joel extensively quotes Jaron Lanier’s skepticism about the idea of a Singularity—technology increasing so quickly as to create an imminent and cataclysmic upheaval in human affairs. As you read farther in this book you will have to form your own opinions about humanity’s robustness. I offer my thoughts, not as warnings, but to foster self-awareness; at best, to provide insight into the turbulent times ahead of us.

Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winner for Guns, Germs and Steel has written a contemporary book titled Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Jared is a multi-disciplinary biologist and historian. He peers beneath traditional cultural-historical explanations for the failure of past societies and searches for underlying fundamental causes. Diamond wrote that when our human ancestors choose to abandon the hunter-gather life style by inventing agriculture, the result was both rapid overpopulation and depletion of resources. In Collapse, Diamond warns that the lifestyle of current human societies has less than 50 years left.

I agree with Diamond that in this century humanity will experience a dramatic increase in calamities compared to our comparatively stable 20th century. Diamond considers the invention of agriculture the worst mistake in human history. I see it instead as a turning point that has led us to the cusp of control over our own evolution. Collapse has a fleeting few pages addressing new technology. Jared Diamond views technology as neither a primary threat nor source of solution for the modern world. In contrast I see the success of genetics and artificial intelligence, as game-changers which will vastly exceed the dramatic impact agriculture had on our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Modern futurist thinkers frequently view science and technology as either the path to human nirvana, or to the extinction of the human race. My view is akin to Jaron Lanier’s; that we are beginning a frightful, rapid and messy evolution into multiple new intelligent species. These new species will incorporate machine intelligence, nanotechnology and organic biology.

Francis Fukuyama writes on the last page of his book Our Posthuman Future - Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution:

“Many assume that the posthuman world will look pretty much like our own—free, equal, longer lives, and perhaps more intelligent than today. But the posthuman
world could be one that is far more hierarchical and competitive than the one that currently exists and full of social conflict as a result. It could be one in which any notion of ‘shared humanity’ is lost, because we have mixed human genes with those of so many other species that we no longer have a clear idea of what a human being is. It could be one in which the median person is living well into his or her second century, sitting in a nursing home hoping for an unattainable death. Or it could be the kind of soft tyranny envisioned in Brave New World, in which everyone is healthy and happy but has forgotten the meaning of hope, fear, or struggle.”


Fukuyama’s hope was to entreat humanity to avoid these potential outcomes. He asks our political communities to work together to protect the values which we consider to be innate human rights. This book takes the view that some isolated communities will successfully restrict the impact of artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, nanotechnology and robotics. Unfortunately they will not deter other communities from continuous rapid progress. The most successful of these communities will rapidly dominate our world.

Biological evolution has always been fraught with drama. We are in the process of inventing earth based alien life forms. Today people debate how close computers are to human intelligence. Replacing this debate, in the next century people will instead be alarmed by the new Technology Augmented Bioengineered (TAB) humans in endless competition for domination. In the following centuries no one will consider engineered intelligent life to be human. The human race is rapidly inventing its replacement. I believe that in five hundred years the only human beings on planet Earth will be in large preserves; isolated and protected like we do today with animals extinct in the wild.
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Humanity is in the midst of the single most dramatic change that Homo sapiens (our species) will ever experience. The human race is heading toward trouble. The trouble is of our own making and is unavoidable. Our primary crisis is that we have deduced the biology of genetics. Humanity is in the first steps of self-modifying our own species. This is unique on Earth; a living organism that can use its intelligence to redesign itself. No longer are thousands of years of evolution required. We will be modifying our own genome in one human generation.

This book is a collection of essays that attempt a balanced view of various topics that will influence our next century. There are many futurologists from the twentieth century that have shown deep insight into our future. I quote references from many of them in this prolog and throughout this book. I have included no bibliography and do not present my work as one of scientific research. Most of the ideas I present are best articulated by their referenced authors. What is unique to this book is that it is intended to persuade a variety of readers that our children are going to have a more dramatic influence on the destiny of humanity than any past or future generation. Much of what I have written here will cause your common sense to rebel. I ask only that you judge for yourself the path that humanity is on so that the choices we collectively make in the twenty-first century are as informed as possible. Most futurists are in agreement that the human experience will change more in the next century than in the previous 10,000 years. I try to realistically evaluate these forces for change and project some of the highly probable consequences to humanity.

For those readers familiar with historical predictions of impending calamity; they will recognize that such warnings have been a part of all recorded history. In the middle ages, the cross-bow threatened the end; later came the invention of dynamite; most recently, nuclear weapons threatened cataclysm. Still humankind has managed to survive and prosper. Many futurists believe we are currently facing what Vernor Vinge is credited as defining as a technological singularity. The consequences of this singularity on humanity are hotly debated. In his thoughtful book, Radical Evolution – The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies—and What It Means to Be Human, Joel Garreau has termed the prospect of humanity muddling through ‘The Prevail Scenario’. Joel extensively quotes Jaron Lanier’s skepticism about the idea of a Singularity—technology increasing so quickly as to create an imminent and cataclysmic upheaval in human affairs. As you read farther in this book you will have to form your own opinions about humanity’s robustness. I offer my thoughts, not as warnings, but to foster self-awareness; at best, to provide insight into the turbulent times ahead of us.

Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winner for Guns, Germs and Steel has written a contemporary book titled Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Jared is a multi-disciplinary biologist and historian. He peers beneath traditional cultural-historical explanations for the failure of past societies and searches for underlying fundamental causes. Diamond wrote that when our human ancestors choose to abandon the hunter-gather life style by inventing agriculture, the result was both rapid overpopulation and depletion of resources. In Collapse, Diamond warns that the lifestyle of current human societies has less than 50 years left.

I agree with Diamond that in this century humanity will experience a dramatic increase in calamities compared to our comparatively stable 20th century. Diamond considers the invention of agriculture the worst mistake in human history. I see it instead as a turning point that has led us to the cusp of control over our own evolution. Collapse has a fleeting few pages addressing new technology. Jared Diamond views technology as neither a primary threat nor source of solution for the modern world. In contrast I see the success of genetics and artificial intelligence, as game-changers which will vastly exceed the dramatic impact agriculture had on our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Modern futurist thinkers frequently view science and technology as either the path to human nirvana, or to the extinction of the human race. My view is akin to Jaron Lanier’s; that we are beginning a frightful, rapid and messy evolution into multiple new intelligent species. These new species will incorporate machine intelligence, nanotechnology and organic biology.

Francis Fukuyama writes on the last page of his book Our Posthuman Future - Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution:

“Many assume that the posthuman world will look pretty much like our own—free, equal, longer lives, and perhaps more intelligent than today. But the posthuman
world could be one that is far more hierarchical and competitive than the one that currently exists and full of social conflict as a result. It could be one in which any notion of ‘shared humanity’ is lost, because we have mixed human genes with those of so many other species that we no longer have a clear idea of what a human being is. It could be one in which the median person is living well into his or her second century, sitting in a nursing home hoping for an unattainable death. Or it could be the kind of soft tyranny envisioned in Brave New World, in which everyone is healthy and happy but has forgotten the meaning of hope, fear, or struggle.”


Fukuyama’s hope was to entreat humanity to avoid these potential outcomes. He asks our political communities to work together to protect the values which we consider to be innate human rights. This book takes the view that some isolated communities will successfully restrict the impact of artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, nanotechnology and robotics. Unfortunately they will not deter other communities from continuous rapid progress. The most successful of these communities will rapidly dominate our world.

Biological evolution has always been fraught with drama. We are in the process of inventing earth based alien life forms. Today people debate how close computers are to human intelligence. Replacing this debate, in the next century people will instead be alarmed by the new Technology Augmented Bioengineered (TAB) humans in endless competition for domination. In the following centuries no one will consider engineered intelligent life to be human. The human race is rapidly inventing its replacement. I believe that in five hundred years the only human beings on planet Earth will be in large preserves; isolated and protected like we do today with animals extinct in the wild.