The moment when humans and machines merge

2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal

The moment when human and machines merge We’re fast approaching the moment when humans and machines merge. Welcome to the Singularity movement

This prediction was based on the merger of the human brain and a computer. Computer technology was described as developing at such a phenomenal rate that computers could accomplish in just one hour what had previously taken their entire 90 year history to do.

This suggested to many scientists around the world that computers were developing an “intelligence” (artificial intelligence) similar to humans and by 2045 would even surpass human intelligence.

It was theorized that humans might then be able to download their consciousnesses into computerized robots and have a virtual existence inside them forever.

This would permanently end civilization as we know it. Death would become an option. Humans would be transformed and in control of their evolution. Perhaps they would be able to solve problems, which had previously eluded resolution.

Of course there are many scientists who find such predictions utter nonsense. They counter with arguments that computers do a very narrow range of what is described as intelligence and that technology will never be able to replicate the vast complexities of even a single human cell.

Furthermore there are philosophical challenges to address. How do we identify ourselves if we exist in two forms? Would robots, downloaded with our consciousnesses, get along any better with other robots than humans do with each other now? What if our new selves didn’t like our old selves and turned against us?

Computers are getting faster. Everybody knows that. Also, computers are getting faster faster — that is, the rate at which they’re getting faster is increasing.

True? True.

So if computers are getting so much faster, so incredibly fast, there might conceivably come a moment when they are capable of something comparable to human intelligence. Artificial intelligence.

All that horsepower could be put in the service of emulating whatever it is our brains are doing when they create consciousness — not just doing arithmetic very quickly or composing piano music but also driving cars, writing books, making ethical decisions, appreciating fancy paintings, making witty observations at cocktail parties.

If you can swallow that idea, and a lot of other very smart people can, then all bets are off. From that point on, there’s no reason to think computers would stop getting more powerful. They would keep on developing until they were far more intelligent than we are.

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.

Probably. It’s impossible to predict the behavior of these smarter-than-human intelligences with which (with whom?) we might one day share the planet, because if you could, you’d be as smart as they would be.

But there are a lot of theories about it. Maybe we’ll merge with them to become super-intelligent cyborgs, using computers to extend our intellectual abilities the same way that cars and planes extend our physical abilities.

Maybe the artificial intelligences will help us treat the effects of old age and prolong our life spans indefinitely. Maybe we’ll scan our consciousnesses into computers and live inside them as software, forever, virtually.

Maybe the computers will turn on humanity and annihilate us. The one thing all these theories have in common is the transformation of our species into something that is no longer recognizable as such to humanity circa 2011. This transformation has a name: the Singularity.

The difficult thing to keep sight of when you’re talking about the Singularity is that even though it sounds like science fiction, it isn’t, no more than a weather forecast is science fiction.

It’s not a fringe idea; it’s a serious hypothesis about the future of life on Earth. There’s an intellectual gag reflex that kicks in anytime you try to swallow an idea that involves super-intelligent immortal cyborgs, but suppress it if you can, because while the Singularity appears to be, on the face of it, preposterous, it’s an idea that rewards sober, careful evaluation.

We’re approaching a moment when computers will become intelligent, and not just intelligent but more intelligent than humans. When that happens, humanity — our bodies, our minds, our civilization — will be completely and irreversibly transformed. This moment is not only inevitable but imminent . According to calculations, the end of human civilization as we know it is about 31 years away.

Source | Time

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