Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Is mankind ready for the next step?

Last year I mused on whether the world was going backwards with the rise of Islamist fundamentalism around the world. The Taliban, Al-Qaeda and others were trying to take life back to the stone age. Since then they have been joined by Boko Harem and ISIS who in imposing the will of their imaginary friend upon mankind in the most brutal way. The twenty-first century seems to be becoming the age of the death cult.

And yet humanity’s propensity for technological advance continues unabated. Who would have thought in 1939 when old fashioned bi-planes were still flown by the worlds advanced nations, that within six years just one plane carrying just one bomb could wipe out a whole city?

Since then we as a species have developed the capacity to not only wipe ourselves out several times over but probably destroy all life on this fragile planet of ours.

I am no conspiracy theorist, but I am sure that further technological advances have been made by governments and corporations that remain secret because of military and commercial considerations, and such advances continue every day.

The space race has already been entered into not just by new countries such as India, China and Japan but also private corporations as satellites and even space travel itself become more than just possibilities but reality.

Virgin Space Ways anyone?

Two articles in today's issue of The Times (no link £) gave food for thought. James Dean writes:

Artificial super intelligence could pose more of a danger to the human race than nuclear weapons, Elon Musk, the technology entrepreneur has warned.

The boss of Telsa Motors, the electric car maker suggested it was increasingly likely that human beings were unwittingly preparing the world for take over by highly intelligent, insentient beings.

He doesn’t mean aliens, he means machines. These comments came on Twitter following the his reading of a book by Nick Bostrom, Director of the Future of Humanity Institute in Oxford.

The professors theory is that the first artificially super intelligent being will probably wipe out all humans.

Shades of Terminator? Science fiction? Apparently not. The Times continues:

Technology futurists have long predicted that artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence at a point known as “the singularity”.

I wonder what such an intelligence would make of the human race? We are a very sorry sight, unable to live with each other or protect the planet we rely on for life. One doesn’t need to delve into the realms of science fiction to see what logical solution such a intelligence might reach.

This also comes at a time when the possibilities of mankind taking the next step off this planet to exploit the mineral resources of the moon are actually becoming more practicable, though not quite yet.The Times runs an editorial raising the question mining on the Moon and asks who owns it?

Competition for these resources will arise, and when someone actually tries to develop a mining expedition, the nations will have to abide by the UN Outer Space Treaty (no I didn’t know we had one either). However The Times asks how does this apply to private companies? Soon this will be more than a “fairy tale” as the paper puts it.

The question we have to ask ourselves as such technologies and prospects grows, are we the human race ready for the challenge ahead.

A logical mind might think not.

That mind might not be human.

So we need to learn to live together and treat our world with more respect or is that idea the real science fiction?

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