Road to Human 2.0 – Immortality or Oblivion?

The day when the themes of Human vs AI covered in the classic futuristic movie Bladerunner will become reality are fast approaching

Scientists have already learnt how to remote control rats and control whether bulls charge a matador via electrodes in their brain. By 2029 Ray Kurzweil predicts computer intelligence will equal the power of the human brain and this will revolutionise humanity – we will be able to download our minds to computers extending our lives indefinitely

On the other hand noted scientists like Professor Dr. Hugo de Garis (Head of the Artificial Intelligence Group, Wuhan University China) are very worried because of the downside risks and think that Kurzweil is naive for many reasons including because:

  • Much of the backing for brain machine interfaces comes from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) – for whom harnessing the research of brain machine scientists offers the hope of future military advantage
  • Advancing AI may lead to oblivion by giving rise to ultra intelligent machines which give human beings the flick

De Garis even claims that right now the Unabomber “[Ted] Kaczynski’s considered a psychotic crazy guy but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if in time he’ll be seen as some kind of hero” for his one man stand against technology.

Have scientists crossed the boundaries of acceptable research or will technology’s accelerating power transform us for the better?

Are we on the road to immortality or oblivion?

Watch BBC Horizon’s documentary “Human v2.0″ to decide for yourself (RSS subscribers will have to click through to this article to view the embedded video below)


7 comments on “Road to Human 2.0 – Immortality or Oblivion?

  1. Polina on said:

    I doubt that computer can ever be used as a “storage device” for human mind to extend person’s life.

    Firstly, because I suppose that personality is not encapsulated in mind alone, secondly, because I don’t believe in computers as a “safe” mechanisms and especially in “bug-free” computer software… the more complicated systems computers become, the more different people are working on software development – the more hidden bugs would be in them:)

    I doubt that anyone would allow his mind “moved” inside the computer before he would be pretty sure is is not going to show a “system halted” message in a couple of days:)))

  2. Daniel B on said:

    Interesting topic. Its very skynet / matrix in outlook. I think a key question about “backing up” our brains to computers is if the Mac/PC divide will translate to this area of tech. Perhaps we will see the rise of the “I-brain” ;-) ?

    EDITOR: Perish the thought!

  3. KrBee on said:

    While it isn’t hard to believe that AI is reaching that incredible level of capability, I find it hard to believe that we will “extend our lifetimes” by being able to hardwire a computer to our thought patterns.

    Reason being is that, and I’m only a basic AI programmer, but how do you program an emotion? (I would LOVE to see the coding for that!)

    While we could program a “mind” so to speak with the basic information of a persons mind, how would it be possible to know all of the connections in a persons mind that interlink memories and perceptions that draw out those memories – that is what would extend someone’s lifetime and not simply make a basic copy of some of their personality traits.

    EDITOR: I don’t know how they’ll do it but with the combined efforts of scientific geniuses and relentlessly massive increases in computer processing power I’m sure it will be achieved in my life time

    PS thanks for the comment. I’ve only received a few comments from Canadian readers compared to your friends across the border

  4. Polina on said:

    Have been thinking over your article for some time and have a strange question to ask. How do you think is possible to extract a mind from a person? You should be observing a person for the lifetime just to collect and then emulate some of its behavior patterns and still it won’t be real (as human being is able to behave unpredictably, while AI can’t).

  5. I think that one of the things being ignored by the deniers is the very concept that the human brain could be simulated in it’s entirety. Emotions in theory are simply a function of the interaction of many different portions of the brain, and therefore if the system is perfectly simulated, then logically so will be the emotions and behaviors of the individual whose brain is simulated. We are looking at this from a standpoint of those who once said “the world is flat” because we simply haven’t got the knowledge necessary to say with definite surety that it is possible. We do not however have any evidence that it is impossible, in fact all signs point to it being possible scientifically. The biggest detraction comes from those who are scared. It is a scary thought that human thought might be a product of the scientific laws which govern everything else in our lives. Many are so sure (without evidence) that they are not copyable. I find this is mostly due to their fear of whether “identity” needs to be redefined in that case. If a person’s whole person can be simulated in software in the year 2200, what is it that makes the original person any more important than the simulation, or worse yet, is the original person then disposable, as are all his copies. Can a person copy their consciousness over the internet to a new body in Japan, and then destroy the old copy? Does this constitute murder?

    Most of the fear comes from morality. How do we redefine our ethics in this new world? Do we?

    To the previous comentor who stated that only humans can behave unpredictably, I would remind you that you only see human behavior as unpredictable because you do not understand every facet of how the brain reacts to stimuli and you can’t possibly know every bit of information in their brain and how it has been mapped in the neural network of synapses. If you knew all of that, can you honestly say you know for certain that the behavior was not a product of those factors? Perhaps, knowing all the factors in the brain at the time human behavior becomes merely mathematical. I would say that it is, and that this makes the human being and the human brain no less amazing.

    Have a good one!
    -Vansu

  6. Pingback: AGStrout » “The Singularity”

  7. I can’t believe I have never seen this before. The other day I watched Ray Kurzweil’s “Transcendent Man” that has very similar themes to this video. Its crazy now how theres so many Brain to Computer Interfaces now for commercial use. A month ago I found 3 on amazon alone. This should drive further research in neuroresearch.

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