Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Experience of Our Species - Part III

Ever marvel at the things we humans can do, or the crazy inventions we come up with? Well, I do, and I feel like sharing that wonder with you. This is the final part of that journey.


What will tomorrow bring? When you think about the advancements made in the last few decades, years, months, days, you can easily see that technology and science are moving ahead at break-neck speed and that trend is getting faster and faster. There’s an idea out there that says at some point the rate development of new technologies will surpass the limit of human capability. At that time, it is believed technology will do the advancing on its own, taking the form of self-replicating robots and intelligent/learning artificial intelligence. (There’s an excellent explanation of this idea of the “Law of Accelerating Returns” in very much more detail at this site, and I suggest you all go take a look. It’s a bit long, but worth the time.) The shared experience, lessons, and knowledge of the human race will be transferred to the technology we’ve created, which will take it and run with it.

(c) Julie Holden - what does that mean? Are we all going to become slaves to a superior robot race à la “The Matrix”? I doubt it, personally, but I won’t dismiss it as a possibility. However, I don’t have a truly feasible and certain alternative for you at the moment. In the same way Alexander Graham Bell could not have imagined today’s smart phones we use everyday, nobody can say for sure how this technology-driven technology will manifest itself in our lives. I believe that as we get closer and closer to this eventuality, life will continue to get more and more exciting, entertaining, and easy for us all - until this tipping point is reached.

Though I fear it may, I just hope everything doesn’t come crashing down upon us - or at the very least if it does, that it happens long beyond my lifetime, or my children’s. I’m not afraid of the future, however; In fact, I can’t wait to see what new developments we come up with. The fact of the matter is though, that I see bits and pieces of the ‘scary’ future all the time. For example: technology that knows where you are at all times and sends that info to the whole world; technology that is getting increasingly better at identifying images (and your face); vehicles that will drive themselves from point A to point B and parallel park when it gets there; exhibition robots that can mimic human language, motion, emotion. My biggest concern is  those making these inventions naïvely thinking they’re in control of whatever it is they make, when - according to the Law of Accelerating Returns - at some point, this will just not be possible.


(P.S. Thanks to Julie Holden for the image!)

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