“We must abandon the politically and psychologically loaded idea that the Anthropocene is a great crime against nature,” says James Lovelock, creator of Gaia theory –Earth-as-superorganism– who argues that the Anthropocene era of human influence over the planet is coming to an end and that an age of superintelligent beings is about to begin. “The truth is that, despite being associated with mechanical things, the Anthropocene is a consequence of life on Earth. It is a product of evolution; it is an expression of nature.”
“I think we’re forging ahead into the post-Anthropocene, into the Novacene,” says Lovelock in an interview with New Scientist. “I think the chemical-physical type of humanity has had its time. We’ve mucked about with the planet and we’re moving towards a systems type of thing, [a future species] running on cybernetics. The great thing is that if you run your systems on electronics or optical devices, they’re up to 10,000 times faster than what we’ve got at the moment, and this opens up enormous possibilities.
“The biological won’t necessarily vanish completely,” he adds, “but it will be of less fundamental importance.”
“Assuming that the Novacene system comes in, and it may have already started,” Lovelock says, “its capacity for thinking will be 10,000 times, at least, faster than ours. It could be as much as a million times faster. I don’t have doubts about survival. Look what we’ve done by increasing our intelligence. Perhaps I’m slightly religious, but I think the whole of the live part of the universe, which is mostly us and things [on Earth], is working through its existence. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
The Gaia hypothesis will save us from a godlike AI, if such can be created, if it escapes the “box” and assumes control of energy grids, transport and weapons, because the machines will realize that they need organic life to keep the planet at a habitable temperature. Even electronic life, he observes, could not survive on an Earth that veered into runaway global warming.
So, Lovelock argues, it will suit the robots to keep humans around, reports The Guardian. We might even be happier, he says quoting the American writer Richard Brautigan writing in 1967, when we are “all watched over / by machines of loving grace”.
“My last word on the Anthropocene,” Lovelock writes, “is a shout of joy, joy at the colossal expansion of our knowledge of the world and the cosmos that this age has produced.”