I read somewhere that because technology advances at such a great rate, by as quick as 2040 we’ll reach the point where we either destroy ourselves or evolve. Any support for this, or is it just ga-ga?
Where did you hear that? When you hear a claim like that it is up the the person making the claim to justify it.
40 years is not enough time to evolve. It sounds like ga-ga to me.
There’s a book about the subject called The Spike: Accelerating Into The Unimaginable Future by Damien Broderick. Here http://home.vicnet.net.au/~ozlit/rev-9732.html is a review of the book. The author claims that we are approaching the point where the future will be so different from the past that we can’t really say what it might be like. In particular he claims that once we can design intelligent computers, those computers will be able to design their successors at an ever-accelerating pace.
There is, of course, a difference between asserting that technology will experience an (as yet) unimaginable evolutionary explosion or even that society will be radically transformed by that technological explosion, and asserting that the human biological species will experience some evolutionary Pokémon-like transformation.
I think the case can be made that humanity has embarked on a path of ever-increasing technological advancement. I suspect that we will not successfully predict the impact that those advances will have on society.
That, however, is rather different than claiming that we will evolve or destroy ourselves–a notion more clearly aimed at selling books than to providing a serious foundation for discussion.
I wish I remembered where that came from, but I read this after clicking on that link:
Since I’m a huge astrophysics buff, this doesn’t come as a surprise. I may have simply misinterpreted 2014 for 2040. They sound alike. 2040 seems more feasible that technology will just shoot straight up and become asymptomatic as opposed to 2014. I don’t even see us having flying cars by 2014.
The destroy or evolve prospect seems inherent in the rise of techology. It will get to a point where the technology starts self-replicating or doing objectives without our use. Take this to the next level and it starts resembling Skynet from the Terminator series. The evolve aspect is certainly more sketchier. It’s doubtful we’ll evolve physically, and maybe this is more romantic than people would otherwise take it; we would need to “evolve” mentally and permenantly put a block to things that start getting out of our hands. It brings up the moralistic issue of, if we can do it, should we? The most humanistic answer would be a resounding no. A ‘yes’ would undoubtably result in our own destruction, but will mankind be able to see that? If it will, then that’s our first step into a mental evolution, isn’t it? Putting a cap on technology by not only cutting off government funding, but not allowing private spending, either. Make it illegal.
Well, Rodney Brooks, Director of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, doesn’t think we’re moving so fast.
General Questions is for questions with factual answers. This looks more like a Great Debate to me.
I’ll move it to Great Debates for you.
DrMatrix - General Questions Moderator
Stopping technology because it may be misused sounds like a very bad idea to me. It would be politicians who decide where the cap should be placed.
Knowlege is a good thing.
In order to evolve, one part of the race that is not fit to live in a certain condition must die out. With modern technology, we’re not letting anyone die out, so I don’t believe we’ll be evolving any time soon.
Of course we’ll blow ourselves up. As we go through history, weapons get more and more powerful. By that time, every country in the world will have all kinds of nuclear weapons, and with one disagreement, they’ll pound eachother to dust.
There are other possible paths.
That was the plot of the cyberpunk novel Neuromancer. An A.I. couldn’t directly circumvent the blocks against it’s expanding it’s own intelligence, so it set up a scheme to manipulate some humans into doing it. It succeeded and became a superconciousness, with all of cyberspace becoming part of it’s mind.
First of all, it seems pure arrogance for anybody who thinks he can predict how technology will move or how fast is it accelerating accurately. If you look at books such as <em>The Third Wave</em> or <em>Megatrends</em>, things predicted in those books just aren’t happening, or at a much slower rate. Consider those books were written 20 years ago, it is a clear indication of predicting the future is just a tad bit more accurate than astrology.
Secondly, neither of those outcomes seem correct. Besides, it is a False Dilemma as somebody else has pointed out.
BTW, flying cars is a stupid idea.
Meet you at The Omega Point!
Not quite accurate.
(1) Evolution is not just “survival of the fittest”. Evolution is any change in the frequency of alleles from generation to generation. Simple recombination or genetic drift can cause evolutionary changes.
(2) Even survival of the fittest is not as simple as fit vs. unfit. Lots of gray areas and changing circumstances (and luck).
(3) Not letting anyone die out? People still die. Our technology may increase our average life expectancy, but people still die at different, and even young, ages. Further, a large portion of the world’s population does not have access to “first world” medicine.
(4) Also re: #3, how about genecide? (or wars in general)
(5) Evolution is not just differential death vs. living. More importantly, it’s differential success at reproducing. Right now, third world-ers have more children than supposedly healthier first world-ers. (Yes, infant mortality is higher in third-world countries.) Future outcome? Who knows. The changes in the world’s make-up of different races from generation to generation is evolution.
(6) Evolution can also include things like hereditable changes in immune systems. As humanity faces different & new diseases, those who tend to have more immunity will do better (reproduce more) than those who are more susceptible. The disease doesn’t have to even be fatal.
One thing that greatly slows human evolution besides medical technology is transportation technology…the world is getting “smaller” and there are fewer and fewer isolated populations where different variations can get a foothold.
So, I agree that our technology has currently slowed the process of evolution, but it’s still going on.
To the OP, did the author of that article actually mean genetic evolution or simply a change in our behavior? The former is nearly ridiculous whereas the latter is all too true.