On the show Visions of the Future with Dr Michio Kaku he interviews a guy who has already implanted microchips into mice to give them better memory. He also says in the future we will be part robot and robots will be part biological… Dr Michio Kaku is my favorite.
Heh. Warhammer 40k-esque Space Marines. Definitely look forward to that.
More likely, I look forward to RFIDs as they could make hospital record keeping more efficient. If doctors could keep records in the patient’s wrist or arm, mistakes could be slashed…though, that’s probably a bad word choice XD
I agree. Recent developments in computer nano-components indicate that we shall soon be able to build ones much more powerful that those of today in less than a cubic inch. As Kaku reported we can connect neurons to electronic equipment. We are also close to being able to cause a fetus to be born with extra arms. While that’s not particularly useful, imagine that we have the fetus grow an extra set of occular nerve bundles that lead into the sinuses, then as soon as it’s born, implant the computers into those sinus cavities and connect them to the nerve bundles. The child would instantly have access to a huge data base, a variety of languages, sciences, etc. In addition, the computer could act as a cell phone and wireless Internet connection so that we would have functional telepathy.
Just as well that I’ll be dead by then. I don’t think I’d want anyone to be able to hack into my memories.
“Humanity tends to overestimate technological progress in the short term, while underestimating technological progress in the long term.”
All in all, I think this is going to be a very interesting century indeed. Personally, I’m most looking forward to delving into the consciousness and discovering how it works. Couple that with massive increases in computing power, advances in neurology and the probable fusing of technology and human biology…yes…very interesting indeed.
I am quite skeptical about the singularity. As noted in the Spectrum issue, it is clear that the brain is a machine, but it is less clear that it is a von neuman machine.
Also, yes, we have done tremendous scientific and technologic progress… in some areas. As far as I know, we are still in darkness about the brain and the trend to use MRI to see what happens in the brain has been criticized and though I am not an expert, I’d say with good arguments.
I tend to agree with Douglas Hofstader that singularity could occur someday, but its proponents are severely underestimating the complexity of inteligence and conscience. I am pretty proud of the software I write , but I doubt it could do what the brain does with this paradigm.
BTW, Does anybody read ‘the invincible’ by Stanislav Lem?. He proposes on the book a history of non-biological evolution, a kind of singularity, triggered not by a smart engineer but by environmental pressure to survive.
I have to agree with you Barto, that a heavy dose of skepticism probably isn’t a bad thing in this area since many promises seem rather dubious or overly optimistic. But, I still believe such things are a question of when not if. Hopefully sooner than later, but only time will tell.
I think the concern about the consequences of merging a human brain with a computer is thoroughly justified, however, we humans have a history of seeing some quick advantages, making the change then being shocked at the unintended consequences.
A good example was posted here a few months ago. A company had genetically engineered a soil bacterium that caused problems in some food crop such that the bacterium would self-destruct. They were about to test it in the fields of a farm when a graduate student read about it and flagged it to the Dept. of Agriculture. The experiment was stopped then run in an isolated laboratory. It was found that there was no way to prevent the spread of this, and that that bacterium also supplied a necessary condition to all plant life. The laboratory soil was sterilized and the test cancelled. Had they done it, it would have spread across the entire globe and eventually wiped out almost all plant life.
The advantages of combining an electronic and a biological computing function are apparent. Almost certainly there will be unexpected effects that could be extremely destructive.
The moral side of the singularity is tough, but I’d say that the science faces moral dilemmas constantly.
We should think in the ethics and moral of the science, not to try to preclude certain kind of research, but to know how to use them on our best interest. I think that the scientific research could ignore ethics and moral issues is a (dangerous) fallacy.
Mario Bunge wrote about it on his book ‘Science and Ethics’ (BTW, Bunge wouldn’t be a good guest for POI? what about a talk about science and ethics by Mario Bunge?)
I’ve thought that it would be great to have my mind transferred to a computer just before my death so I could continue on. However, a couple of things occurred to me. 1. I don’t care for the idea of someone being able to turn me off. And 2. I definitely don’t like the idea of someone going in and diddling with my program.