The 5 Most Likely Ways Humans Will Become Obsolete
Robots Rise Up, Blah Blah, Etc.The Gist: This is your most basic version of the Technological Singularity, the one popularized by countless movies and feared ever since Pinocchio became self-aware and murdered his father (I didnt watch much Disney as a kid). The basic idea goes like this: One day in the future, a team of scientists working at a robot factory (lets say Japanese scientists, because, hey, who are we kidding?) finally invent a robot thats smarter than a human being, if only by an infinitesimal amount. Itll still probably be a robot dog, but thats fine; the point is, its the robot weve all been imagining all these years. Then lets say--since Japanese scientists are so notoriously lazy--they take the rest of the day off and have the newborn Mr. Roboto design more robots instead of doing it themselves. Makes sense after all: why do a job the hard way when theres a tool that can do it faster and better than you? Its kind of the basis of all human civilization, and, some would argue, our current unemployment rate, but shut the fuck up because robots are cool. So while Mrs. Yakahara and the Morimoto twins are guzzling sake at the commissary, Mr. Roboto dutifully uses his superhuman brain to design the best robot he can, a robot that, as youd expect--because hes smarter than the people who designed him--is even smarter than
Voila! Humans are obsolete. Why Its Plausible: The big question here is whether you believe its theoretically possible for humans to create a robot as sophisticated as a human. If youre a person of faith, youve got the whole immaterial soul thing to throw a monkey wrench into the works, at least until we manage to replicate the human soul using a powerful lens, some magnets and the tears of an orphan. Even if youre not religious, creating a robot that functions on the same level as a human being seems like a tall order, but think about it this way: the guy who built Deep Blue could probably shit a diamond more easily than beat it at a game of chess. And Im guessing the guy who invented the hydraulic press couldnt crush a car, either. And just
Teh Intr4net Pwns UThe Gist: One of the main problems with the robot theory is how freaking amazing the human brain is, and therefore how hard it is to believe it could actually be replicated. Naturally, theres a lot of disagreement about the exact processing power and storage capacity of the brain. But a conservative estimate--made by a mathematician who thinks the Technological Singularity will happen as soon as 2030--puts it at around 100 times todays best supercomputers, despite the existence of Internet comments. That means the guy across from you at the bus depot grunting in frustration as he rips up today's Junior Jumble is as smart as, say, 58 supercomputers. And with some of the new barriers microchip developers have been running up against, it could be quite a while before we can house that much smart in a single box. And even if we could, wed probably just use it to play
But imagine all that processing power working towards the same goals, or conducted as a single entity. Although, assuming people wont stop masturbating long enough for that, you should actually imagine a LAN party of 150 supercomputers designed to work in perfect tandem. Thats still a long way from a robot named Terry who will tell you stories and cure AIDS, but the raw materials, the tools, will finally exist. Then it just takes time, dedication and a willingness to work on AI algorithms between bouts of running the coolest Crysis physics demos
What Is This AFK You Speak Of?The Gist: OK, lets tighten the plausibility belt another notch. Lets say that, for whatever reason, we just dont believe in The Matrix or Demolition Man or anything cool like that; theyre just too badass to actually happen. Thats not going to stop technology from rapidly and drastically changing the way we live over the next century. Dont believe me? Imagine explaining Twitter, your GPS,
And of course, none of this takes into account the devastating droughts, famines and urban squalor that would result from giving the mass of humanity easy access to a perfect, wish-granting virtual world. Whos going to wash the dishes when they could be eating a five-star meal with Oscar Wilde on the surface of the sun? My guess is people would spend the entirety of their lives either logged on, eating sustenance pellets or rubbing against their CPUs in the hopes of somehow melding with them and becoming fucking cyborgs.
We Become Fucking CyborgsThe Gist: And why not? If were going to be defining our identities by our technology, whats the harm in getting some of it sewn into our skin, or wired into our eyes, or burning the contents of our brains onto a 9,000-layer DVD and making several hundred backup copies? In the cyborg future, surgery and computing have finally come together, and thankfully not in a really gross way. Amputees have the robot power legs they've always wanted, but never use them because, like everyone else, theyre too busy communicating with the human group mind, or metacore. This is basically the future science fiction writers imagined before they got all depressed in the late 40s and started writing exclusively about the A-bomb. This is mankind as a transcendent being, our tool-using potential pushed to the maximum and reincorporated into the organism. Instead of breathing life into machines, we ate their delicious electric hearts, thereby gaining their power like a robotic version of the bad guy from
The Real Life ScenarioThe Gist: As youd expect, each of the outlandish predictions Ive described have their fair share of scientific detractors. Im not saying I dont believe any of them could possibly happen (after all, I'm the blogger who declared it impossible to get Diet Dr. Pepper to taste more like regular Dr. Pepper), but they do take a certain leap of faith. Especially when all of the statistical evidence supporting them has been countered by cynics with arguments like static analysis errors and logarithmic scaling and I'm a bitter cynic who doesn't want anyone to find joy. So what if the people with sand in their vagina are right? What if their sandy vaginas house a delicate pearl of wisdom? If it really is
If you actually read this far, you should know that Michael is also the head writer for and co-founder of Those Aren't Muskets!, and you can follow him on Twitter @SWAIM_CORP!