Age of Cyborgs: The Next Kingdom of Life –“Humans Will Vanish from Earth”

 

“Our supremacy as the prime understanders of the cosmos is rapidly coming to end,” says famed British environmentalist and futurist, James Lovelock describing cyborgs as self-sufficient, self-aware descendants of today’s robots and artificial intelligence systems in the emerging era of the Novacene. “I think of cyborgs as another kingdom of life,” he says. “They will stand to us in much the same way as we ourselves, as a kingdom of animals, stand to plants. ”

“The Novacene will probably be the final era of life on Earth,” says Lovelock author of the theory that the ESA’s Gaia Space Observatory is named after, that views the planet as a single organism.

“The understanders of the future will not be humans but what I choose to call ‘cyborgs’ that will have designed and built themselves. Homo sapiens could vanish from Earth,” not long after their emergence Lovelock warns, viewing technology through an evolutionary lens.

Lovelock echoes the warnings of physicist Stephen Hawking who died last March, 2018, and was buried next to Isaac Newton in viewing the rise of technology through an evolutionary lens. Before Hawking left our planet, he had expressed serious concerns about the future of mankind. Foremost was his concern for the future of our species and what might prove to be our greatest, and last, invention.

Stephen Hawking –“Treating AI as Science Fiction Would Potentially Be Our Worst Mistake Ever”

“We should plan ahead,” urged Hawking. “If a superior alien civilization sent us a text message saying, ‘We’ll arrive in a few decades,’ would we just reply, ‘OK, call us when you get here, we’ll leave the lights on’? Probably not, but this is more or less what has happened with AI.”

“While primitive forms of artificial intelligence developed so far have proved very useful, I fear the consequences of creating something that can match or surpass humans,” observed Stephen Hawking. “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded. And in the future AI could develop a will of its own, a will that is in conflict with ours.”

“Alien Minds” –‘Artificial Intelligence Is Already Out There, and It’s Billions of Years Old’

Since our emergence some 300,000 years ago in the Paleolitic, humans have reigned as our planet’s only intelligent, self-aware species, but the rise of intelligent machines means that could change, and soon, perhaps in our own lifetimes. (It’s important to keep in mind that within our 300,000-year emergence Galileo, Newton, and Einstein only existed within the past 500 years). Not long after, warns Lovelock, “Homo sapiens could vanish from Earth entirely.”

Lovelock describes cyborgs as the self-sufficient, self-aware descendants of today’s robots and artificial intelligence systems. He calls the looming era of their dominance the Novacene.

The first stages of the Novacene are already underway, Lovelock observes, citing AlphaZero, a computer program that taught itself to play the game Go — and then quickly went on to become the world’s best Go player, foreshadowing tomorrow’s cyborgs who will easily become a million times smarter than we are.

Eventually “Beyond Matter?”

Lovelock speculates that our cyborg overlords might look like spheres. “It’s entirely possible,” he adds. that “they would have no form at all,” existing mostly as virtual forms inside computers anticipating astrophysicist Paul Davies conjecture that technology a billion years older than ours might not even be made of matter. It might have no fixed size or shape; have no well-defined boundaries. Is dynamical on all scales of space and time. Or, conversely, does not appear to do anything at all that we can discern. Does not consist of discrete, separate things; but rather it is a system, or a subtle higher-level correlation of things.

“Are matter and information,” Davies asks, “all there is?” Five hundred years ago, Davies observes, “the very concept of a device manipulating information, or software, would have been incomprehensible. Might there be a still higher level, as yet outside all human experience, that organizes electrons? If so, this “third level” would never be manifest through observations made at the informational level, still less at the matter level.

“Mind-Bending” –‘Hyper-Advanced ET May Be What We Perceive to Be Physics’

We should be open to the distinct possibility that advanced alien technology a billion years old may operate at the third, or perhaps even a fourth or fifth level -all of which are totally incomprehensible to the human mind at our current state of evolution in 2019.

“While primitive forms of artificial intelligence developed so far have proved very useful, I fear the consequences of creating something that can match or surpass humans,” observed Stephen Hawking. “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded. And in the future AI could develop a will of its own, a will that is in conflict with ours.”

The Daily Galaxy via Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence (The MIT Press) Kindle Edition

Image credit: S. Epps & M. Hudson / University of Waterloo

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