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Humaniti 2100

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I must try and get back into the habit of a Friday afternoon blog post. So here's something I've been putting together for a while on my Palm - it is unashamably direct and does not particularly hedge its bets - where's the fun in doing that?.

I still reckon that Greg Egan (in Diaspora) has probably got the most accurate view of how humanity may 'evolve' over the next few centuries. Inspired by him here's my take on where we could be by 2100.

NATURALS

Naturals are those who have refused any sort of body mod or digital existence. In 2100 there will be a frighteningly large number of people living (even in poverty) for whom this may be the only option. Increasingly though this is a moral choice. However general health advances mean that life expectancy is 100+, with good quality of life to 90+ for those in the developed world.

AUGMENTED

The Augmented are those who have taken advantage of the transformative technologies of genetic and nano engineering and digital/cyber mods, but who see their 'self' as purely their organic mind. If they use 'scapes and virtual worlds through avatars it is for specific, non-persistent, purposes. Augmentation itself may range fm slight (e.g. just regular use of an avatar or life-logging systems) to extreme (bio-electronic cyber-systems).

MULTIPLES

Multiples are those of organic descent who have created digital copies of themselves which exist persistently (and probably in multiple instances) in 'scapes across the globe, planets and (by 2200) the stars. I still think that 'uploading' a mind from the brain could be in the near-impossible category. lnstead the first 'copies' will come from explicit teaching/programming, quickly followed by automated learning from email & social media, and ultimately by eavesdropping on everything we do from birth - our lifelog becomes us.

The real challenge for multiples is the re-integration of learnt experiences. Copies can easily just copy data, but what about the organic prime? Again I think that uploading memories is probably a no-no, but in-silico memory accessed through some sort of personal agent or augmented reality (or even brain-jack) would seem achievable.

Freed of a corporeal existence the copies can explore the stars in starship borne 'scapes, and even be beamed from star to star at the speed of light (and bear in mind that since the Multiples sense of time is dependent only on processor clock speed the journey to Alpha Centauri could pass in seconds or millennia - again see Egan, this time in Permutation City).

But perhaps the most telling feature of Multiples is that they can be immortal - so whilst your organic atom based self may die your digital Multiples can live forever - perhaps we might even call them ghosts.

And if we can create simple Multiples now (and I think we can) then it means that we can create simple (multiple) immortality right now - and just think of the moral and ethical issues that raises.

(and if you doubt this whole section take a look at this recent DoD requirement)

DIGITALS

Digitals (who also normally exist as Multiples) are personality constructs that are not derived from an organic, living source. At their most basic, and in current tech terms, these could be virtual receptionists or game NPCs, but very shortly we'll be able to create autonomous, self-motivated avatars - the fore-runners of true digitals. We might also create Digitals from historic personalities, and we could even use software DNA to allow Digitals to breed and evolve (for what a baby Digital might experience read the opening of Egan's Diaspora). The key point is that within the virtual space Digitals are not differentiable from Multiples or the avatars of the Augmented.

GLEISNERS/ANDROIDS

But Multiples and Digitals need not be confined to virtual spaces. Once we have a digital self controlling an avatar body there is no reason why we can't have the same self controlling a robot body. Indeed in building our own AI engine we created a Sensor and Action mark-up language to isolate the AI 'brain' from the embodiment technology. So the same AI that controls a Second Life avatar could also control, and live through, an AIBO or ASIMO. Fast forward 50-100 years and our 'human-level' Multiples and Digitals can walk the atom-based physical worlds in human (or non-human) bodies (what Egan calls Gleisner robots). And whislt embodied Digitals may sound weird just think what it would be like, as the human root of a Multiple, to shake your own hand.

When I first wrote this I entitled it Humaniti 2200 - but I've now put it to 2100. For either date though it's a matter of degree - particularly for the 'organic' element. There is also though the potential of a 'singularity' effect; once we have one fully fledged Digital we could rapidly clone or evolve it (or it could clone or evolve itself) so that the Digital population could go from single figures to thousands to millions in years or decades.

So how might percentages or numbers go? This is probably not even a guess, but its always useful to have some strawman figures.

Type / Date200920152020205021002150 2200
Naturals99%95%90%80%50%30% 10%
Enhanced1%5%10%20%50%70%90%
Multiples0100s10k+100k+10m+1bn2bn
Digitals010s50s+100s+10k+1m++100m++
Gleisners01s10s+10s+1k+100k++1m++
Figures for naturals and Enhanced are % biological human population. + means +/- 1 order of magnitude, ++ means +/- 2 orders of magnitude

And if you doubt the 2015 figures I fully expect Daden to be running at least 1 Multiple (probably me!), 1 Digital (an enhanced Halo) and even a Gleisner (Halo in some 2015 equivalent of a Femsapien).


But the real message is that we can already create Multiples and Digitals, and even Gleisners - they just aren't very good yet! But it means there has been a shift. This is no longer a question of when or if or can, but just one of how good, and how fast will we improve.


diaspora.jpg

This is the second Greg Egan book I've read. The first was Permutation City and that was excellent and the first book in which the idea of copies/upload/personality constructs (PC) made some sort of sense. With Diaspora Egan goes well beyond that, 150 pages in its an excellent book. Even though written nearly a decade ago it visualisation of a future for humanity is far better than most modern SF authors, and it should be quoted as much as Snowcrash when it comes to talking about virtual worlds. The opening chapter describing the "birth" of a new PC, and that PC's first interaction with external data streams, and then its avatar and its virtual world home are superb.

For the record, and it doesn't include any spoilers, Diaspora identifies a future only 100 or so years out when humanity has post-signularity fragmented into about 4 different "species" (compare with the BT future evolution chart I posted a fortnight or so ago):

- Statics - organic, unmodified humans (i.e. us)
- Exhuberants - organic modified humans, whose modifications range from cosmetic to the extremes to cope with hostile environments such as the sea and space
- Gleisner robots - "uploaded" and (I assume) digitally evolved humans who live in mechanical bodies
- Polis residents (I don't think he gives them a name as the story is from their point of view) - uploaded and digitally evolved humans who live in virtual worlds (although those worlds have feeds of the physical world, have agency in it through robots, and can step out into it through Gleisner robots.


The Sci Phi Show

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The Sci Phi Show

Great podcast about issues where SF starts hitting philosophical issues.

Foresight and Horizon Scanning

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Foresight

Couple of interesting sites linked into the UK Government's Foresight project.

www.sigmascan.org by Outsights - Ipsos MORI and www.deltascan.org by the Institute for the Future (IFTF).

The Sigma Scan is a quality assured synthesis of some of the world's best Horizon Scanning sources. It covers future issues and trends across the full public policy agenda. It is drawn from a range of sources including think tanks, academic publications, mainstream media, corporate foresight, expert/strategic thinkers, government sources, alternative journals, charities/NGOs, blogs, minority communities, and futurists.

The Delta Scan is an overview of future science and technology issues and trends, with contributions by over 200 science and technology experts from the worlds of government, business, academia and communication in the UK and US.

Vernor Vinge on the Singularity

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Vernor Vinge on the Singularity

The definitive Singularity paper?

Institute For The Future

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IFTF's Future Now

Referenced by Rudy Rucker, talking about Charles Stross.

TransVision06 in SL

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TransVision06 in SL - Uvvy

The TransVision 2006 annual conference of the World Transhumanist Association, Helsinki 17-19 August 2006, organized by the WTA and the Finnish Transhumanist Association, will be open to remote visitors in the virtual reality world of Second Life.

- Looks worth going to.

The Future in Movies

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An introduction to Projections: A Futurist at the Movies.

A great web site. Pity it hasn't got a simlper tagging/search system. A few photos would be nice too.

What Is Your Dangerous Idea?

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THE WORLD QUESTION CENTER 2006

Interesting site and essays, with a current focus on their Annual Edge Question - "What Is Your Dangerous Idea." A quick sample:

The world may fundamentally be inexplicable

There aren't enough minds to house the population explosion of memes

After several generations of living in the computer culture, simulation will become fully naturalized. Authenticity in the traditional sense loses its value, a vestige of another time.

When will the Internet become aware of itself?

The Multiverse

Being alone in the universe

Long Bets

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Long Bets [ On the Record: Predictions ] - a brilliant site that managers bets between individuals on the "big issues" (and some not so big) of the future - like AI, alien life, genetics, holidays on the moon etc. Whilst viewers can agree/disagree its a pity they can't enter their own target date for an event, that would make it even more Delphic like.

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