The Extinction of Human Intelligence

Can you imagine a future where we are no longer important. Where humans have fallen from the hefty heights of technical excellence, to languish instead in the school yard fight for resources and ultimately survival.

The Internet changed the world in a few short years. An explosion of technical information and skills and of hardware and computational power that we still struggle to fully comprehend. We are now almost completely reliant on computers, they make the processed food we consume, they store our medical records and remember where the wealth and the debt lies. The last decade is such a small grain in the vast sands of time, yet so much has changed.

We have become out of date.

Our brains may be viewed as the current pinnacle of evolutionary design, yet we struggle to deal with more than 5/7 pieces of information at any given time in consciousness. In a society where the amount of information flowing through fibre optics, the airwaves and even outer space is exponentially increasing year on year. We have reached a point of no return, we must adapt quickly.

By 2014 it’s possible that a computer will have been conceived if not built, which has the computational power in excess of the human mind. Stop and think about that. A COMPUTER THAT EXCEEDS THE POWER OF THE HUMAN MIND. Artificial Intelligence is here, and we are about to combine that with a superior processing ability than our own, all in the naive assumption that we will still be in control.

We are already out of control.

Technology has become so integrated into our lives, that not having it would likely destroy the very fabric of society. So we continue to develop and deploy ever more complex technological solutions to problems most of us don’t even understand. We take for granted our most basic of resources, yet we have no idea how they are maintained. And why should we, when the computer knows how to do it. We are way too busy tagging our mp3 collections and finding online discount vouchers to save 5% on a new HD mega-pixel camera!

We consume because that’s all we know how to do. We work to pay for the things we feel we must consume, and in doing so fuel a cycle of development to satiate our increasingly outlandish demands. Computers take our orders, process our money, pick our items and send us e-mails on despatch. They feed our consumeristic habit, and we love them for it. We love the way that technology makes things easier for us to do, and we expect more. This expectation can never be met, but the development bus rolls on regardless.

The down escalator.

We are more intelligent now than at any other time in history, yet the fundamentals of society are no longer in our control. Money has been abstracted to an idea, not based on actual commodities. Communication is now digitised to such an extent that you’d be hard pressed to tell a computer voice from a real voice. Replication, one of the the most basic human instincts, is now subject to a quota.

Where does this all end?

Information is power, and by 2050, Murphy’s law indicates that we will have created machines, possessing more computational power than the entire human race combined. Take that thought and overlay it onto the advances expected in Artificial Technology and Genome/DNA sequencing, and you will have a vision of the future which could just as well be the cover from a 70’s Sci-Fi magazine. But it’s not.

In our own lifetimes we are likely to see more change than hundreds of past generations have seen combined. We must re-evaluate our position in the cosmos, from being the jewel in the crown of evolution, to facilitators of technology that makes our own accomplishments look like stone age tools. Yet we have a vital part to play. For better or for worse, we are set on a path of discovery. It’s our nature to progress, to push boundaries and unlock natures doors, but at what cost or at what prize will we find ourselves facing?

Can we summon the wisdom to make the right choices for humanity to thrive, or will we pursue technological evolution irrespective of the outcome?

We should be thankful for our position, we each have a vital role to play. We should respect scientific and technological advances, but tread with caution with the things we do not yet fully understand.

Humanities future is in our own hands for now, but how long before those hands are not our own.