PostHuman: An Introduction to Transhumanism from the British Institute of Posthuman Studies

This video by the British Institute of Posthuman Studies explores three factors of transhumanism; super longevity, super intelligence, and super well-being.  Its called PostHuman: An Introduction to Transhumanism and it’s a great video to show your friends who have never heard of transhumanism or the technological singularity.  


Runtime: 11:11


This video can also be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTMS9y8OVuY

Video Info:

Published on Nov 5, 2013

We investigate three dominant areas of transhumanism: super longevity, super intelligence and super wellbeing, and briefly cover the ideas of thinkers Aubrey de Grey, Ray Kurzweil and David Pearce.

Official Website: http://biops.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/biopsuk
Twitter: https://twitter.com/biopsuk
Google+: http://gplus.to/biops

Written by: Peter Brietbart and Marco Vega
Animation & Design Lead: Many Artists Who Do One Thing (Mihai Badic)
Animation Script: Mihai Badic and Peter Brietbart
Narrated by: Holly Hagan-Walker
Music and SFX: Steven Gamble
Design Assistant: Melita Pupsaite
Additional Animation: Nicholas Temple
Other Contributors: Callum Round, Asifuzzaman Ahmed, Steffan Dafydd, Ben Kokolas, Cristopher Rosales
Special Thanks: David Pearce, Dino Kazamia, Ana Sandoiu, Dave Gamble, Tom Davis, Aidan Walker, Hani Abusamra, Keita Lynch

 

From the Human Brain to the Global Brain by Marios Kyriazis

This paper (From the Human Brain to the Global Brain by Marios Kyriazis) talks about brain augmentation and the possible (probable?) emergence of a global brain.  This is actually a concept which is quite familiar to me because it is the backdrop to a science fiction novel (possibly series) I’ve been writing in my spare time – limited as that may be, but more on that another time.  I’d just like to point out (and I know I’m not the first) that we already have the framework (the internet) for a rudimentary global brain.  Really, all it lacks is sophistication.


 

From the Human Brain to the Global Brain

Introduction

Human intelligence (i.e., the ability to consistently solve problems successfully) has evolved through the need to adapt to changing environments. This is not only true of our past but also of our present. Our brain faculties are becoming more sophisticated by cooperating and interacting with technology, specifically digital communication technology (Asaro, 2008).

When we consider the matter of brain function augmentation, we take it for granted that the issue refers to the human brain as a distinct organ. However, as we live in a complex technological society, it is now becoming clear that the issue is much more complicated. Individual brains cannot simply be considered in isolation, and their function is no longer localized or contained within the cranium, as we now know that information may be transmitted directly from one brain to another (Deadwyler et al., 2013; Pais-Vieira et al., 2013). This issue has been discussed in detail and attempts have been made to study the matter within a wider and more global context (Nicolelis and Laporta, 2011). Recent research in the field of brain to brain interfaces has provided the basis for further research and formation of new hypotheses in this respect (Grau et al., 2014; Rao et al., 2014). This concept of rudimentary “brain nets” may be expanded in a more global fashion, and within this framework, it is possible to envisage a much bigger and abstract “meta-entity” of inclusive and distributed capabilities, called the Global Brain (Mayer-Kress and Barczys, 1995;Heylighen and Bollen, 1996;Johnson et al., 1998; Helbing, 2011; Vidal, in press).

This entity reciprocally feeds information back to its components—the individual human brains. As a result, novel and hitherto unknown consequences may materialize such as, for instance, the emergence of rudimentary global “emotion” (Garcia and Tanase, 2013; Garcia et al., 2013; Kramera et al., 2014), and the appearance of decision-making faculties (Rodriguez et al., 2007). These characteristics may have direct impact upon our biology (Kyriazis, 2014a). This has been long discussed in futuristic and sociology literature (Engelbart, 1988), but now it also becomes more relevant to systems neuroscience partly because of the very promising research in brain-to-brain interfaces. The concept is grounded on scientific principles (Last, 2014a) and mathematical modeling (Heylighen et al., 2012).

Augmenting Brain Function on a Global Scale

It can be argued that the continual enhancement of brain function in humans, i.e., the tendency to an increasing intellectual sophistication, broadly aligns well with the main direction of evolution (Steward, 2014). This tendency to an increasing intellectual sophistication also obeys Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety (Ashby, 1958) which essentially states that, for any system to be stable, the number of states of its control mechanisms must be greater than the number of states in the system being controlled. This means that, within an ever-increasing technological environment, we must continue to increase our brain function (mostly through using, or merging with, technology such as in the example of brain to brain communication mentioned above), in order to improve integration and maintain stability of the wider system. Several other authors (Maynard Smith and Szathmáry, 1997;Woolley et al., 2010; Last, 2014a) have expanded on this point, which seems to underpin our continual search for brain enrichment.

The tendency to enrich our brain is an innate characteristic of humans. We have been trying to augment our mental abilities, either intentionally or unintentionally, for millennia through the use of botanicals and custom-made medicaments, herbs and remedies, and, more recently, synthetic nootropics and improved ways to assimilate information. Many of these methods are not only useful in healthy people but are invaluable in age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease (Kumar and Khanum, 2012). Other neuroscience-based methods such as transcranial laser treatments and physical implants (such as neural dust nanoparticles) are useful in enhancing cognition and modulate other brain functions (Gonzalez-Lima and Barrett, 2014).

However, these approaches are limited to the biological human brain as a distinct agent. As shown by the increased research interest in brain to brain communication (Trimper et al., 2014), I argue that the issue of brain augmentation is now embracing a more global aspect. The reason is the continual developments in technology which are changing our society and culture (Long, 2010). Certain brain faculties that were originally evolved for solving practical physical problems have been co-opted and exapted for solving more abstract metaphors, making humans adopt a better position within a technological niche.

The line between human brain function and digital information technologies is progressively becoming indistinct and less well-defined. This blurring is possible through the development of new technologies which enable more efficient brain-computer interfaces (Pfurtscheller and Neuper, 2002), and recently, brain-to-brain interfaces (Grau et al., 2014).

We are now in a position expand on this emergent worldview and examine what trends of systems neuroscience are likely in the near-term future. Technology has been the main drive which brought us to the position we are in today (Henry, 2014). This position is the merging of the physical human brain abilities with virtual domains and automated web services (Kurzweil, 2009). Modern humans cannot purely be defined by their biological brain function. Instead, we are now becoming an amalgam of biological and virtual/digital characteristics, a discrete unit, or autonomous agent, forming part of a wider and more global entity (Figure 1).

global brain

Figure 1. Computer-generated image of internet connections world-wide (Global Brain). The conceptual similarities with the human brain are remarkable. Both networks exhibit a scale-free, fractal distribution, with some weakly-connected units, and some strongly-connected ones which are arranged in hubs of increasing functional complexity. This helps protect the constituents of the network against stresses. Both networks are “small worlds” which means that information can reach any given unit within the network by passing through only a small number of other units. This assists in the global propagation of information within the network, and gives each and every unit the functional potential to be directly connected to all others. Source: The Opte Project/Barrett Lyon. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International License.

Large Scale Networks and the Global Brain

The Global Brain (Heylighen, 2007; Iandoli et al., 2009; Bernstein et al., 2012) is a self-organizing system which encompasses all those humans who are connected with communication technologies, as well as the emergent properties of these connections. Its intelligence and information-processing characteristics are distributed, in contrast to that of individuals whose intelligence is localized. Its characteristics emerge from the dynamic networks and global interactions between its individual agents. These individual agents are not merely the biological humans but are something more complex. In order to describe this relationship further, I have introduced the notion of the noeme, an emergent agent, which helps formalize the relationships involved (Kyriazis, 2014a). The noeme is a combination of a distinct physical brain function and that of an “outsourced” virtual one. It is the intellectual “networked presence” of an individual within the GB, a meaningful synergy between each individual human, their social interactions and artificial agents, globally connected to other noemes through digital communications technology (and, perhaps soon, through direct brain to brain interfaces). A comparison can be made with neurons which, as individual discrete agents, form part of the human brain. In this comparison, the noemes act as the individual, information-sharing discrete agents which form the GB (Gershenson, 2011). The modeling of noemes helps us define ourselves in a way that strengthens our rational presence in the digital world. By trying to enhance our information-sharing capabilities we become better integrated within the GB and so become a valuable component of it, encouraging mechanisms active in all complex adaptive systems to operate in a way that prolongs our retention within this system (Gershenson and Fernández, 2012), i.e., prolongs our biological lifespan (Kyriazis, 2014b; Last, 2014b).

Discussion

This concept is a helpful way of interpreting the developing cognitive relationship between humans and artificial agents as we evolve and adapt to our changing technological environment. The concept of the noeme provides insights with regards to future problems and opportunities. For instance, the study of the function of the noeme may provide answers useful to biomedicine, by coopting laws applicable to any artificial intelligence medium and using these to enhance human health (Kyriazis, 2014a). Just as certain physical or pharmacological therapies for brain augmentation are useful in neurodegeneration in individuals, so global ways of brain enhancement are useful in a global sense, improving the function and adaptive capabilities of humanity as a whole. One way to augment global brain function is to increase the information content of our environment by constructing smart cities (Caragliu et al., 2009), expanding the notion of the Web of Things (Kamilaris et al., 2011), and by developing new concepts in educational domains (Veletsianos, 2010). This improves the information exchange between us and our surroundings and helps augment brain function, not just physically in individuals, but also virtually in society.

Practical ways for enhancing our noeme (i.e., our digital presence) include:

• Cultivate a robust social media base, in different forums.

• Aim for respect, esteem and value within your virtual environment.

• Increase the number of your connections both in virtual and in real terms.

• Stay consistently visible online.

• Share meaningful information that requires action.

• Avoid the use of meaningless, trivial or outdated platforms.

• Increase the unity of your connections by using only one (user) name for all online and physical platforms.

These methods can help increase information sharing and facilitate our integration within the GB (Kyriazis, 2014a). In a practical sense, these actions are easy to perform and can encompass a wide section of modern communities. Although the benefits of these actions are not well studied, nevertheless some initial findings appear promising (Griffiths, 2002; Granic et al., 2014).

Concluding Remarks

With regards to improving brain function, we are gradually moving away from the realms of science fiction and into the realms of reality (Kurzweil, 2005). It is now possible to suggest ways to enhance our brain function, based on novel concepts dependent not only on neuroscience but also on digital and other technology. The result of such augmentation does not only benefit the individual brain but can also improve all humanity in a more abstract sense. It improves human evolution and adaptation to new technological environments, and this, in turn, may have positive impact upon our health and thus longevity (Solman, 2012; Kyriazis, 2014c).

In a more philosophical sense, our progressive and distributed brain function amplification has begun to lead us toward attaining “god-like” characteristics (Heylighen, in press) particularly “omniscience” (through Google, Wikipedia, the semantic web, Massively Online Open Courses MOOCs—which dramatically enhance our knowledge base), and “omnipresence” (cloud and fog computing, Twitter, YouTube, Internet of Things, Internet of Everything). These are the result of the outsourcing of our brain capabilities to the cloud in a distributed and universal manner, which is an ideal global neural augmentation. The first steps have already been taken through brain to brain communication research. The concept of systems neuroscience is thus expanded to encompass not only the human nervous network but also a global network with societal and cultural elements.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Acknowledgment

I thank the help and input of the reviewers, particularly the first one who has dedicated a lot of time into improving the paper.

References

Asaro, P. (2008). “From mechanisms of adaptation to intelligence amplifiers: the philosophy of W. Ross Ashby,” in The Mechanical Mind in History, eds M. Wheeler, P. Husbands, and O. Holland (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press), 149–184.

Google Scholar

Ashby, W. R. (1958). Requisite Variety and its implications for the control of complex systems. Cybernetica (Namur) 1, 2.

Bernstein, A., Klein, M., and Malone, T. W. (2012). Programming the Global Brain. Commun. ACM 55, 1. doi: 10.1145/2160718.2160731

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Caragliu, A., Del Bo, C., and Nijkamp, P. (2009). Smart Cities in Europe. Serie Research Memoranda 0048, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.

Google Scholar

Deadwyler, S. A., Berger, T. W., Sweatt, A. J., Song, D., Chan, R. H., Opris, I., et al. (2013). Donor/recipient enhancement of memory in rat hippocampus. Front. Syst. Neurosci. 7:120. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2013.00120

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Engelbart, D. C. (1988). A Conceptual Framework for the Augmentation of Man’s Intellect. Computer-Supported Cooperative Work. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers Inc. ISBN: 0-93461-57-5

Garcia, D., Mavrodiev, P., and Schweitzer, F. (2013). Social Resilience in Online Communities: The Autopsy of Friendster. Available online at:http://arxiv.org/abs/1302.6109 (Accessed October 8, 2014).

Garcia, D., and Tanase, D. (2013). Measuring Cultural Dynamics Through the Eurovision Song Contest. Available online at: http://arxiv.org/abs/1301.2995 (Accessed October 8, 2014).

Gershenson, C. (2011). The sigma profile: a formal tool to study organization and its evolution at multiple scales.Complexity 16, 37–44. doi: 10.1002/cplx.20350

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Gershenson, C., and Fernández, N. (2012). Complexity and information: measuring emergence, self-organization, and homeostasis at multiple scales. Complexity 18, 29–44. doi: 10.1002/cplx.21424

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Gonzalez-Lima, F., and Barrett, D. W. (2014). Augmentation of cognitive brain function with transcranial lasers. Front. Syst. Neurosc. 8:36. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2014.00036

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Granic, I., Lobel, A., and Engels, R. C. M. E. (2014). The Benefits of Playing Video Games. American Psychologist. Available online at:https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-a0034857.pdf (Accessed October 5, 2014).

Grau, C., Ginhoux, R., Riera, A., Nguyen, T. L., Chauvat, H., Berg, M., et al. (2014). Conscious brain-to-brain communication in humans using non-invasive technologies. PLoS ONE 9:e105225. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105225

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Griffiths, M. (2002). The educational benefits of videogames. Educ. Health 20, 47–51.

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | Google Scholar

Helbing, D. (2011). FuturICT-New Science and Technology to Manage Our Complex, Strongly Connected World. Available online at: http://arxiv.org/abs/1108.6131(Accessed November 6, 2014).

Henry, C. (2014). IT and the Legacy of Our Cultural Heritage EDUCAUSE Review, Vol. 49 (Louisville, CO: D. Teddy Diggs).

Heylighen, F., and Bollen, J. (1996). “The World-Wide Web as a Super-Brain: from metaphor to model,” in Cybernetics and Systems’ 96, ed R. Trappl (Vienna: Austrian Society For Cybernetics), 917–922.

Google Scholar

Heylighen, F. (2007). The Global Superorganism: an evolutionary-cybernetic model of the emerging network society. Soc. Evol. Hist. 6, 58–119

Google Scholar

Heylighen, F., Busseniers, E., Veitas, V., Vidal, C., and Weinbaum, D. R. (2012). Foundations for a Mathematical Model of the Global Brain: architecture, components, and specifications (No. 2012-05). GBI Working Papers. Available online at:http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/Papers/TowardsGB-model.pdf (Accessed November 6, 2014).

Heylighen, F. (in press). “Return to Eden? promises and perils on the road to a global superintelligence,” in The End of the Beginning: Life, Society and Economy on the Brink of the Singularity, eds B. Goertzel and T. Goertzel.

Google Scholar

Johnson, N. L., Rasmussen, S., Joslyn, C., Rocha, L., Smith, S., and Kantor, M. (1998). “Symbiotic Intelligence: self-organizing knowledge on distributed networks driven by human interaction,” in Artificial Life VI, Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Artificial Life (Los Angeles, CA), 403–407.

Google Scholar

Iandoli, L., Klein, M., and Zollo, G. (2009). Enabling on-line deliberation and collective decision-making through large-scale argumentation: a new approach to the design of an Internet-based mass collaboration platform. Int. J. Decis. Supp. Syst. Technol. 1, 69–92 doi: 10.4018/jdsst.2009010105

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Kamilaris, A., Pitsillides, A., and Trifa, A. (2011). The Smart Home meets the Web of Things. Int. J. Ad Hoc Ubiquit. Comput. 7, 145–154. doi: 10.1504/IJAHUC.2011.040115

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Kramera, A. D., Guillory, J. E., and Hancock, J. T. (2014). Experimental Evidence of Massive-Scale Emotional Contagion Through Social Networks. Available online at:http://www.pnas.org/content/111/24/8788.full (Accessed October 10, 2014).

Kumar, G. P., and Khanum, F. (2012). Neuroprotective potential of phytochemicals. Pharmacogn Rev. 6, 81–90. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.99898

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Kurzweil, R. (2005). The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. New York, NY: Penguin books-Viking Publisher. ISBN: 978-0-670-03384-3.

Google Scholar

Kurzweil, R. (2009). “The coming merging of mind and machine,” in Scientific American. Available online at:http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/merging-of-mind-and-machine/ (Accessed November 5, 2014).

Kyriazis, M. (2014a). Technological integration and hyper-connectivity: tools for promoting extreme human lifespans.Complexity. doi: 10.1002/cplx.21626

CrossRef Full Text

Kyriazis, M. (2014b). Reversal of informational entropy and the acquisition of germ-like immortality by somatic cells. Curr. Aging Sci. 7, 9–16. doi: 10.2174/1874609807666140521101102

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Kyriazis, M. (2014c). Information-Sharing, Adaptive Epigenetics and Human Longevity. Available online at:http://arxiv.org/abs/1407.6030 (Accessed October 8, 2014).

Last, C. (2014a). Global Brain and the future of human society. World Fut. Rev. 6, 143–150. doi: 10.1177/1946756714533207

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Last, C. (2014b). Human evolution, life history theory and the end of biological reproduction. Curr. Aging Sci. 7, 17–24. doi: 10.2174/1874609807666140521101610

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Long, S. M. (2010). Exploring Web 2.0: The Impact of Digital Communications Technologies on Youth Relationships and Sociability. Available online at:http://scholar.oxy.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=sociology_student(Accessed November 5, 2014).

Mayer-Kress, G., and Barczys, C. (1995). The global brain as an emergent structure from the Worldwide Computing Network, and its implications for modeling. Inform. Soc. 11, 1–27 doi: 10.1080/01972243.1995.9960177

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Maynard Smith, J., and Szathmáry, E. (1997). The Major Transitions in Evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nicolelis, M., and Laporta, A. (2011). Beyond Boundaries: The New Neuroscience of Connecting Brains with Machines—and How It Will Change Our Lives. Times Books, Henry Hold, New York. ISBN: 0-80509052-5.

Pais-Vieira, M., Lebedev, M., Kunicki, C., Wang, J., and Nicolelis, M. (2013). A brain-to-brain interface for real-time sharing of sensorimotor information. Sci. Rep. 3:1319. doi: 10.1038/srep01319

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Pfurtscheller, G., and Neuper, C. (2002). Motor imagery and direct brain-computer communication. Proc. IEEE 89, 1123–1134. doi: 10.1109/5.939829

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Rao, R. P. N., Stocco, A., Bryan, M., Sarma, D., and Youngquist, T. M. (2014). A direct brain-to-brain interface in humans.PLoS ONE 9:e111332. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111332

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Rodriguez, M. A., Steinbock, D. J., Watkins, J. H., Gershenson, C., Bollen, J., Grey, V., et al. (2007). Smartocracy: Social Networks for Collective Decision Making (p. 90b). Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society.

Google Scholar

Solman, P. (2012). As Humans and Computers Merge… Immortality? Interview with Ray Kurzweil. PBS. 2012-07-03. Available online at:http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business-july-dec12-immortal_07-10/ (Retrieved November 5, 2014).

Steward, J. E. (2014). The direction of evolution: the rise of cooperative organization. Biosystems 123, 27–36. doi: 10.1016/j.biosystems.2014.05.006

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Trimper, J. B., Wolpe, P. R., and Rommelfanger, K. S. (2014). When “I” becomes “We”: ethical implications of emerging brain-to-brain interfacing technologies. Front. Neuroeng. 7:4 doi: 10.3389/fneng.2014.00004

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Veletsianos, G. (Ed.). (2010). Emerging Technologies in Distance Education. Edmonton, AB: AU Publisher.

Google Scholar

Vidal, C. (in press). “Distributing cognition: from local brains to the global brain,” in The End of the Beginning: Life, Society and Economy on the Brink of the Singularity, eds B. Goertzel and T. Goertzel.

Google Scholar

Woolley, A. W., Chabris, C. F., Pentland, A., Hashmi, N., and Malone, T. W. (2010). Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups.Science 330, 686–688. doi: 10.1126/science.1193147

Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Keywords: global brain, complex adaptive systems, human longevity, techno-cultural society, noeme, systems neuroscience

Citation: Kyriazis M (2015) Systems neuroscience in focus: from the human brain to the global brain? Front. Syst. Neurosci. 9:7. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2015.00007

Received: 14 October 2014; Accepted: 14 January 2015;
Published online: 06 February 2015.

Edited by:

Manuel Fernando Casanova, University of Louisville, USA

Reviewed by:

Mikhail Lebedev, Duke University, USA
Andrea Stocco, University of Washington, USA

Copyright © 2015 Kyriazis. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: drmarios@live.it


 

This article can also be found at http://hplusmagazine.com/2015/02/10/human-brain-global-brain/

Ray Kurzweil – How to Create a Mind

This is one of the longer presentations I’ve seen by Ray Kurzweil.  In the video, Kurzweil discusses some of the concepts behind his latest book, How to Create a Mind.  This talk covers a lot of ground; everywhere from the Kurzweil’s Law (Law of Accelerating Returns), merging with technology, pattern recognizing technology, the effects of economy on life expectancy, solar energy, medical technology, education…  Well, you get the picture.  Check it out.


Runtime: 1:01:00

This video can also be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iT2i9dGYjkg


Video info:

Published on Jun 17, 2014

 

 

National Intelligence Council Predicts a “Very Transhuman Future by 2030”

U.S. government agency –  the National Intelligence Council (NIC) – released “a 140-page document that outlines major trends and technological developments we should expect in the next 20 years.”  The entire 140 page document can be read or downloaded at http://www.dni.gov/files/documents/GlobalTrends_2030.pdf.

U.S. spy agency predicts a very transhuman future by 2030

U.S. spy agency predicts a very transhuman future by 2030

The National Intelligence Council has just released its much anticipated forecasting report, a 140-page document that outlines major trends and technological developments we should expect in the next 20 years. Among their many predictions, the NIC foresees the end of U.S. global dominance, the rising power of individuals against states, a growing middle class that will increasingly challenge governments, and ongoing shortages in water, food and energy. But they also envision a future in which humans have been significantly modified by their technologies — what will herald the dawn of the transhuman era.

This work brings to mind the National Science Foundation’s groundbreaking 2003 report,Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance — a relatively early attempt to understand and predict how advanced biotechnologies would impact on the human experience. The NIC’s new report, Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, follows in the same tradition — namely one that doesn’t ignore the potential for enhancement technologies.

U.S. spy agency predicts a very transhuman future by 20301

In the new report, the NIC describes how implants, prosthetics, and powered exoskeletons will become regular fixtures of human life — what could result in substantial improvements to innate human capacities. By 2030, the authors predict, prosthetics should reach the point where they’re just as good — or even better — than organic limbs. By this stage, the military will increasingly rely on exoskeletons to help soldiers carry heavy loads. Servicemen will also be adminstered psychostimulants to help them remain active for longer periods.

Many of these same technologies will also be used by the elderly, both as a way to maintain more youthful levels of strength and energy, and as a part of their life extension strategies.

Brain implants will also allow for advanced neural interface devices — what will bridge the gap between minds and machines. These technologies will allow for brain-controlled prosthetics, some of which may be able to provide “superhuman” abilities like enhanced strength, speed — and completely new functionality altogether.

Other mods will include retinal eye implants to enable night vision and other previously inaccessible light spectrums. Advanced neuropharmaceuticals will allow for vastly improved working memory, attention, and speed of thought.

“Augmented reality systems can provide enhanced experiences of real-world situations,” the report notes, “Combined with advances in robotics, avatars could provide feedback in the form of sensors providing touch and smell as well as aural and visual information to the operator.”

But as the report notes, many of these technologies will only be available to those who are able to afford them. The authors warn that it could result in a two-tiered society comprising enhanced and nonenhanced persons, a dynamic that would likely require government oversight and regulation.

Smartly, the report also cautions that these technologies will need to be secure. Developers will be increasingly challenged to prevent hackers from interfering with these devices.

Lastly, other technologies and scientific disciplines will have to keep pace to make much of this work. For example, longer-lasting batteries will improve the practicality of exoskeletons. Progress in the neurosciences will be critical for the development of future brain-machine interfaces. And advances in flexible biocompatible electronics will enable improved integration with cybernetic implants.

The entire report can be read here.

Image: Bruce Rolff/shutterstock.

This article can also be found on io9 at http://io9.com/5967896/us-spy-agency-predicts-a-very-transhuman-future-by-2030

Just a Another Definition of “The Singularity”

There are plenty of definitions of the singularity out there and I don’t plan to post any more of these, but I thought this one (from WhatIs)was worth having on Dawn of Giants.  

Singularity (the)

 DEFINITION
Part of the Nanotechnology glossary:

The Singularity is the hypothetical future creation of superintelligent machines. Superintelligence is defined as a technologically-created cognitive capacity far beyond that possible for humans. Should the Singularity occur, technology will advance beyond our ability to foresee or control its outcomes and the world will be transformed beyond recognition by the application of superintelligence to humans and/or human problems, including poverty, disease and mortality.

Revolutions in genetics, nanotechnology and robotics (GNR) in the first half of the 21stcentury are expected to lay the foundation for the Singularity. According to Singularity theory, superintelligence will be developed by self-directed computers and will increase exponentially rather than incrementally.

Lev Grossman explains the prospective exponential gains in capacity enabled by superintelligent machines in an article in Time:

“Their rate of development would also continue to increase, because they would take over their own development from their slower-thinking human creators. Imagine a computer scientist that was itself a super-intelligent computer. It would work incredibly quickly. It could draw on huge amounts of data effortlessly. It wouldn’t even take breaks to play Farmville.”

Proposed mechanisms for adding superintelligence to humans include brain-computer interfaces, biological alteration of the brain, artificial intelligence (AI) brain implants and genetic engineering. Post-singularity, humanity and the world would be quite different.  A human could potentially scan his consciousness into a computer and live eternally in virtual reality or as a sentient robot. Futurists such as Ray Kurzweil (author of The Singularity is Near) have predicted that in a post-Singularity world, humans would typically live much of the time in virtual reality — which would be virtually indistinguishable from normal reality. Kurzweil predicts, based on mathematical calculations of exponential technological development, that the Singularity will come to pass by 2045.

Most arguments against the possibility of the Singularity involve doubts that computers can ever become intelligent in the human sense. The human brain and cognitive processes may simply be more complex than a computer could be. Furthermore, because the human brain isanalog, with theoretically infinite values for any process, some believe that it cannot ever be replicated in a digital format. Some theorists also point out that the Singularity may not even be desirable from a human perspective because there is no reason to assume that a superintelligence would see value in, for example, the continued existence or well-being of humans.

Science-fiction writer Vernor Vinge first used the term the Singularity in this context in the 1980s, when he used it in reference to the British mathematician I.J. Good’s concept of an “intelligence explosion” brought about by the advent of superintelligent machines. The term is borrowed from physics; in that context a singularity is a point where the known physical laws cease to apply.

 

This article can also be found at http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/Singularity-the

Ray Kurzweil’s Mind-Boggling Predictions for the Next 25 Years from SingularityHUB

This is an article from SingularityHub called, “Ray Kurzweil’s Mind-Boggling Predictions for the Next 25 Years.”  For those of you already familiar with Ray Kurzweil, you’ve probably heard all this before, but this is a great introduction to his work if you are not already familiar with it.

Ray Kurzweil’s Mind-Boggling Predictions for the Next 25 Years

253337 39

In my new book BOLD, one of the interviews that I’m most excited about is with my good friend Ray Kurzweil.

Bill Gates calls Ray, “the best person I know at predicting the future of artificial intelligence.” Ray is also amazing at predicting a lot more beyond just AI.

This post looks at his very incredible predictions for the next 20+ years.

Ray Kurzweil.

So who is Ray Kurzweil?

He has received 20 honorary doctorates, has been awarded honors from three U.S. presidents, and has authored 7 books (5 of which have been national bestsellers).

He is the principal inventor of many technologies ranging from the first CCD flatbed scanner to the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind. He is also the chancellor and co-founder of Singularity University, and the guy tagged by Larry Page to direct artificial intelligence development at Google.

In short, Ray’s pretty smart… and his predictions are amazing, mind-boggling, and important reminders that we are living in the most exciting time in human history.

But, first let’s look back at some of the predictions Ray got right.

Predictions Ray has gotten right over the last 25 years

In 1990 (twenty-five years ago), he predicted…

…that a computer would defeat a world chess champion by 1998. Then in 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov.

… that PCs would be capable of answering queries by accessing information wirelessly via the Internet by 2010. He was right, to say the least.

… that by the early 2000s, exoskeletal limbs would let the disabled walk. Companies like Ekso Bionics and others now have technology that does just this, and much more.

In 1999, he predicted…

… that people would be able talk to their computer to give commands by 2009. While still in the early days in 2009, natural language interfaces like Apple’s Siri and Google Now have come a long way. I rarely use my keyboard anymore; instead I dictate texts and emails.

… that computer displays would be built into eyeglasses for augmented reality by 2009. Labs and teams were building head mounted displays well before 2009, but Google started experimenting with Google Glass prototypes in 2011. Now, we are seeing an explosion of augmented and virtual reality solutions and HMDs. Microsoft just released the Hololens, and Magic Leap is working on some amazing technology, to name two.

In 2005, he predicted…

… that by the 2010s, virtual solutions would be able to do real-time language translation in which words spoken in a foreign language would be translated into text that would appear as subtitles to a user wearing the glasses. Well, Microsoft (via Skype Translate), Google (Translate), and others have done this and beyond. One app called Word Lens actually uses your camera to find and translate text imagery in real time.

Ray’s predictions for the next 25 years

The above represent only a few of the predictions Ray has made.

While he hasn’t been precisely right, to the exact year, his track record is stunningly good.

Here are some of my favorite of Ray’s predictions for the next 25+ years.

If you are an entrepreneur, you need to be thinking about these. Specifically, how are you going to capitalize on them when they happen? How will they affect your business?

By the late 2010s, glasses will beam images directly onto the retina. Ten terabytes of computing power (roughly the same as the human brain) will cost about $1,000.

By the 2020s, most diseases will go away as nanobots become smarter than current medical technology. Normal human eating can be replaced by nanosystems. The Turing test begins to be passable. Self-driving cars begin to take over the roads, and people won’t be allowed to drive on highways.

By the 2030s, virtual reality will begin to feel 100% real. We will be able to upload our mind/consciousness by the end of the decade.

By the 2040s, non-biological intelligence will be a billion times more capable than biological intelligence (a.k.a. us). Nanotech foglets will be able to make food out of thin air and create any object in physical world at a whim.

By 2045, we will multiply our intelligence a billionfold by linking wirelessly from our neocortex to a synthetic neocortex in the cloud.

I want to make an important point.

It’s not about the predictions.

It’s about what the predictions represent.

Ray’s predictions are a byproduct of his (and my) understanding of the power of Moore’s Law, more specifically Ray’s “Law of Accelerating Returns” and of exponential technologies.

These technologies follow an exponential growth curve based on the principle that the computing power that enables them doubles every two years.

exponential-growth-of-computing-1

As humans, we are biased to think linearly.

As entrepreneurs, we need to think exponentially.

I often talk about the 6D’s of exponential thinking

Most of us can’t see the things Ray sees because the initial growth stages of exponential, DIGITIZED technologies are DECEPTIVE.

Before we know it, they are DISRUPTIVE—just look at the massive companies that have been disrupted by technological advances in AI, virtual reality, robotics, internet technology, mobile phones, OCR, translation software, and voice control technology.

Each of these technologies DEMATERIALIZED, DEMONETIZED, and DEMOCRATIZED access to services and products that used to be linear and non-scalable.

Now, these technologies power multibillion-dollar companies and affect billions of lives.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com; Singularity University; Ray Kurzweil and Kurzweil Technologies, Inc./Wikimedia Commons

This article can also be found at http://singularityhub.com/2015/01/26/ray-kurzweils-mind-boggling-predictions-for-the-next-25-years/

Michio Kaku on the Technological Singularity and Merging with Machines

Even thought I don’t agree with some of the stances Michio Kaku takes on emergent technologies (some of his predictions are a bit linear for my taste), I still consider myself a fan of his work and I always respect what he has to say.

The Technological Singularity and Merging With Machines

The term “singularity,” which is often heard today, comes originally from my field, theoretical physics. It denotes a point in space and time where the gravitational field becomes infinite. At the center of a black hole, for example, we might find a singularity. It also refers to a mathematical term where a certain function also becomes infinite. But the type of singularity that you have probably been hearing about the most lately is called “The Technological Singularity” and although its not a new concept, it’s definitely becoming more of a mainstream topic of conversation.

Countless books on the subject are being published on a consistent basis, and Ray Kurzweil just recently launched his documentary, “The Transcendent Man” which shares his vision of a world in which humans merge with machines and is currently screening in sold-out screenings around the planet, web forums, blogs and video sites.

Recently it was part of a TIME Magazine cover story entitled “2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal” which includes a five page narrative. Not to mention that there are an increased number of institutes, dozens of annual singularity conferences and even the 2008 founding of the Singularity University by X-Prize’s Peter Diamandis & Ray Kurzweil which is based at the NASA Ames campus in Silicon Valley. The Singularity University offers a variety of programs including one in particular called “The Exponential Technologies Executive Program” which they state has a main goal to “educate, inform, and prepare executives to recognize the opportunities and disruptive influences of exponentially growing technologies and understand how these fields affect their future, business, and industry.”

My television series Sci Fi Science, on the The Science Channel aired an episode entitled A.I. Uprising which maintained a focus on the coming technological singularity and on the fear that mankind will one day create a machine that could quite possibly threaten our very existence. One cannot rule out the point in time when machine intelligence will eventually surpass human intelligence. These super intelligent machine creations will become self-aware, have their own agenda and may even one day be able to create copies of themselves that are more intelligent than they are.

Common questions I’m often asked are:

  • When will this tipping point transpire?
  • What are the implications for the creation of a self-aware machine?
  • What does it mean for the advancement of the human race i.e. On what level will humans merge with them?
  • What happens when machine intelligence exponentially surpasses human intelligence?

But the road to the singularity is not going to be a smooth one. As I originally mentioned in my Big Think interview, “How to Stop Robots from Killing Us“, Moore’s law states that computing power doubles about every 18 months and it’s a curve that has held sway for about 50 years. Chip manufacturing and the technology behind the development of transistors will eventually hit a wall where they are just too small, too powerful and generate way too much heat resulting in a chip meltdown and electrons leaking out due to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

Needless to say, it’s time to find a replacement for silicon and it’s my belief that eventual replacement will essentially take things to the next level. Graphene is a potential candidate replacement and far superior to that of silicon but the technology to construct a large scale manufacturing of graphene (carbon nanotube sheets) is still up in the air. It’s not clear at all what will replace silicon, but a variety of technologies have been proposed, including molecular transistors, DNA computers, protein computers, quantum dot computers, and quantum computers. However, none of them is ready for prime time. Each has its own formidable technical problems which, at present, keep them on the drawing boards.

Well, because of all these uncertainties, no one knows exactly when this tipping point will happen although there are many predictions when computing power will finally meet and then eventually tower above that of human intelligence. For example, Ray Kurzweil whom I’ve interviewed several times on my radio programs stated in his Big Think interview that he feels by 2020 we’ll have computers that are powerful enough to simulate the human brain but we won’t be finished with the reverse engineering of the brain until about the year 2029. He also estimates that by the year 2045, we’ll have expanded the intelligence of our human machine civilization a billion fold.

But in all fairness, we should also point out there are many different points of view on this question. The New York Times asked a variety of experts at the recent Asilomar Conference on AI in California when machines might become as powerful as humans. The answer was quite surprising. The answers ranged from 20 years to 1,000 years. I once interviewed Marvin Minsky for my national science radio show and asked him the same question. He was very careful to say that he does not make predictions like that.

We should also point out that there are a variety of measures proposed by AI specialists about what do to about it. One simple proposal is to put a chip in the brains of our robots, which automatically shut them off if they get murderous thoughts. Right now, our most advanced robots have the intellectual capability of a cockroach (a mentally challengead cockroach, at that). But over the years, they will become as intelligent as a mouse, rabbit, fox, dog, cat, and eventually a monkey. When they become that smart, they will be able to set their own goals and agendas, and could be dangerous. We might also put a fail safe device in them so that any human could shut them off by a simple verbal command. Or, we might create an elite corps of robot fighters, like in Blade Runner, who have superior powers and can track down and hunt for errant robots.

But the proposal that is getting the most traction is merging with our creations. Perhaps one day in the future, we might find ourselves waking up with a superior body, intellect, and living forever. For more, visit the Facebook Fanpage for my latest book, Physics of the Future.

This article can also be found at http://bigthink.com/dr-kakus-universe/the-technological-singularity-and-merging-with-machines

Video Info:

IBM’s Jon Iwata on the Intelligence of Watson

Published on Aug 5, 2014

Jon Iwata, Senior VP of Marketing and Communications at IBM, shares the origins and purpose of IBM’s supercomputer Watson.

Don’t miss new Big Think videos!  Subscribe by clicking here: http://goo.gl/CPTsV5

Transcript: Some years ago the grand challenge in computer science, one of them, was to build a machine that could beat a chess grandmaster. Some may remember this. And we built machines that got better and better at it. But finally built a machine back in the 90s called Deep Blue and it played against Gary Kasparov and it beat Gary Kasparov and I think he’s still quite upset about it. Why did we build that machine? Well it really wasn’t to play chess. It was to take a real challenge, chess, and it would force advances in computer science. And it worked quite well.

Well, that was chess and that was the nature of the grand challenge back then. But today this explosion of data, most of it unstructured data, natural language, Tweets, blog posts, medical images, things like that. Very difficult for traditional computers to understand. It could store it. It could process this data but it doesn’t know what the data really tells you because it’s unstructured. The research team some years ago said what’s a way for us to create a system that is ideal for the coming world of unstructured big data. Natural language. Making sense of a mountain of data. What could we do to force ourselves to solve those problems. And they hit upon the game show Jeopardy. Now I’ve got to tell you that when they came by to see me at IBM corporate headquarters, I don’t know, six years ago, seven years ago, maybe longer and they said we’ve identified the next big challenge similar to the chess machine that beat Kasparov.

I was thinking, you know, wow they’re going to go after some really sophisticated high minded, you know, game theory thing. And they came in and said it was going to be Jeopardy. Now I wasn’t really a Jeopardy watcher back then. I said you mean the TV quiz show? And they said yes. And I said well that seems to be – they remind me of this now – that doesn’t seem to be, you know, very sophisticated or challenging. And they went on to explain to me – and I, of course, had to acknowledge many times to them since then it’s really hard. It’s really hard to win on Jeopardy. And it’s hard for a human and it’s almost impossible for a machine. Because if you play Jeopardy or if you’re just kind of familiar with it, you have to understand puns and allegories, popular culture, rhymes, allusions, double entendres. These are things that computers are baffled by, even some humans. So they went after this and they struck a collaboration with the producers of Jeopardy and they build this system called Watson and it played the two greatest human champions, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, some years ago.

I was there watching it do its thing live and it won. And the remarkable thing about Watson – that’s the name of the system – we believe it’s the first cognitive computer and what is that? It is a system that isn’t programmed. It is a system that learns. It is a system that improves itself by ingesting all the data it can and by being trained by humans. And this is a profound shift in computation because whether it’s a powerful supercomputer or it’s your iPad, all of those systems are programmed to do what they do. Your iPad can only do what a software engineer designed it to do. That is not the case with Watson. Watson improves itself through learning. And it is therefore incredibly important in this world of big data, most of it unstructured. We will need systems like Watson to make sense of all the data that’s being produced.

Watson triggers some very strong emotions in people when they learn about it or see it or interact with it. It talks, it answers questions with great confidence. If it doesn’t know the answer to the question it sometimes asks you another question to help it reason on the question. It generates hypotheses and tells you it’s level of confidence in its recommendations. And so we as humans – we use all kinds of words that we’re familiar with to try to understand what this thing is doing. We say “is it thinking? Is it sentient? Does it create?” Some people get very excited and optimistic because Watson seems to be the answer to a lot of problems. It never forgets. A doctor can’t read every piece of medical literature that’s created every day. Watson can. By the way, Watson’s at work at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Research, at MD Anderson Cancer Research, at the Cleveland Clinic and at Walpoint learning medicine.
[TRANSCRIPT TRUNCATED]

Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Victoria Brown, and Dillon Fitton

  • Category

  • License

    • Standard YouTube License

Transcendent Man Film Trailer

Uploaded on Feb 20, 2009

Transcendent Man by director Barry Ptolemy introduces the life and ideas of Ray Kurzweil, the renowned futurist who journeys the world offering his vision of a future in which we will merge with our machines, can live forever, and are billions of times more intelligent…all within the next thirty years.