The Beady Eye looks at “biology as technology”

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Artificial intelligence is all around us.

But what is the most powerful technology on Earth?

You may think of a B-2 bomber, or a nuclear reactor, or maybe even far-reaching social media platforms.

But there is only one technology known to man that can heal itself, adapt to its environment, sustain itself for decades, replicate, and evolve:

The living organism.

Biological systems have the ability to do things that no human-made machine or chemistry can begin to approach: the ability to replicate, to learn, to scale from one to billions, to adapt, and to evolve.

By gaining control over biological systems and their biochemical pathways — and designing new pathways by rewriting the DNA “software” in cells — synthetic biologists are ushering in the “Biological Age.”

Creating substances with not only superior electrical, optical, and mechanical properties, but with properties that we have never seen before in man-made materials: materials that can regenerate, that respond to the environment, that learn and evolve.

We’re “on the cusp of revolutionary change” coming much “sooner than you think.”

Sugar-fueled biological actuators for hybrid robotics are on the horizon, all grown in “living foundries.

You might think that this is science fiction but it is becoming tangible due to the rapid, simultaneous development of genome-scale engineering tools, enormous data sets of genome sequences, new imaging and analytical capabilities, and the convergence of advances in information science and engineering with biology..

While it’s difficult, if not impossible, to predict future consumer applications.

If we could harness the power of biology in a predictable manner, then we could create living materials that perform functions seamlessly, cheaply, and with very low energy requirements, like walking, talking, dancing, killing, Robots.

A goal along these lines, of course, raises a lot of questions:

Better for whom? Better in what way? For biological humans? For all conscious beings? If that is the case, who or what is conscious?

Evolutionary biological changes move every which way with no apparent direction.

Yet, we continue nonetheless to see a movement toward greater complexity and greater intelligence, indeed to evolution’s supreme achievement of evolving a neocortex capable of hierarchical thinking we are now on the verge of  creating  a “post human” stage of civilization.

This stage may be only a few decades away.

Unfortunately if all the AI systems decided to go on strike tomorrow, our civilization would be crippled: Primitive human societies might then remain on Earth indefinitely but not to worry we’ll be uploading our entire MINDS to computers by 2045 and our bodies will be replaced by machines within 90 years.

Ray Kurzweil - director of engineering at Google - claims that by 2045 humans will be able to upload their entire minds to computers and become digitally immortal - an event called singularity

The simple act of connecting with someone via a text message, e-mail, or cell-phone call uses intelligent algorithms to route the information. (The number of people using Twitter and Facebook daily is around 1,138,000,000)

So a digital brain will need a human narrative of its own fictional story so that it can pretend to be a biological human.

I could at this stage give your brain a more ambitious goal, such as contributing to a better world which is badly needed considering that we are well on the way to extinction. However there is no justification for thinking that our own species will be especially privileged or protected from future technological disasters.

We tend to view the existence of our race as constituting a great ethical value when in fact our existence in a biology sense it is not worth the steam off our piss.

Why?

Because in the future almost every product we touch will be originally designed in a collaboration between human and artificial intelligence and then built-in automated factories.

Because we will continue to pollute our planet and the sky’s above to appease the Stock Exchange.  

Because there will be many ways in which humanity could become extinct before reaching post humanity by wiping out what we should be rely on.

Perhaps the most natural interpretation of disaster is that we are likely to go extinct as a result of the development of some powerful but dangerous technology to combat climate change. We would do well to remember Robert Oppenheimer words when he first viewed an atomic explosion ” Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”

Extinction might be the best option.

It is not clear that creating a new human race is immoral.

As non biological brains become as capable as biological ones of effecting changes in the world—indeed, ultimately far more capable than unenhanced biological ones—we will need to consider their moral education.

The question is can they have any morals and if so what left of us will have to dumb itself down considerably. For any post human stage system that displayed the knowledge of Watson, (Watson is technology that works to understand us) for instance, would be quickly unmasked as non biological.

So what does the Future of Tech Robots.

The power of computing doubles, on average, every two years quoting the developments from genetic sequencing and 3D printing. Technological singularity is the development of  ‘super intelligence’ brought about through the use of technology.

Itself imply that we are likely to go extinct soon, and we are unlikely to reach a post human stage.

What would be left of humanity would be zombies or “shadow-people” – humans simulated only at a level sufficient for the fully simulated people not to notice anything suspicious.

HOWEVER ALL IS NOT LOST

This possibility of a post human stage  is compatible with us remaining at, or somewhat above, our current level of technological development for a long time before going extinct.

We are still lacking a “theory of everything”, but we cannot rule out the possibility that novel physical phenomena, not allowed for in current physical theories, may be utilized to transcend those constraints.

If we could create quantum computers, or learn to build computers out of nuclear matter or plasma, we could push closer to the theoretical limits. At our current stage of technological development, we have neither sufficiently powerful hardware nor the requisite software to create conscious minds in computers.

Simulating the entire universe down to the quantum level is obviously in feasible, unless radically new physics is discovered.

As we gain more experience with virtual reality, we will get a better grasp of the computational requirements for making new worlds appear realistic to their visitors.

These shortcomings will eventually be overcome.

At the moment the amount of computing power needed to emulate a human mind can be roughly estimated. Memory seems to be a no more stringent constraint than processing power.

Our current understanding impose theoretical limits on the information processing attainable in a given lump of matter. We can with much greater confidence establish lower bounds on post human computation, by assuming only mechanisms that are already understood.

One candidate is molecular nanotechnology, which in its mature stage would enable the construction of self-replicating nanobots capable of feeding on dirt and organic matter – a kind of mechanical bacteria. Such nanobots, designed for malicious ends, could cause the extinction of all life on our planet.

So we are able to gain an insight into how an apparently purposeless and directionless process can achieve an apparently purposeful result in one field (biological evolution) by looking at another field (thermodynamics).

In the dark forest of our current ignorance, it seems sensible to apportion one’s credence roughly evenly between both.

As you cannot create energy or destroy it and energy can only move from a state of higher activity to one lower activity it stands to reason that biological evolution, simple put, is descent with modification.

To acknowledge that history is not deterministic is to acknowledge that it is just a coincidence that most of us believe in nationalism, capitalism, and human rights. There is no proof that history is working for the benefit of humans.

Now you might think that all of this is hog wash, but every point in history is a crossroads and sometimes history- or the people who make history – takes unexpected turns.

How we using and develop Technology will determine the forming any new Monotheism Global Society.

Are we heading towards ecological disaster or technological paradise?  Both do not seem bound by any deterministic laws.

You may rest assured that when Cognitive computers and Quantum computers get together with Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality along with the Arms race, biochemical pathways will not enhance human well-being.

Because human brains suffer from minimal development.

Instead of concentrating on developing technologies beneficial to mankind we are developing  autonomous weapons with no accountability to select, to kill, or destroy ( which means no deterrence of future crimes, no retribution for victims, no social condemnation, no meaningful human control)

Individual humans like me are far too ignorant and weak to influence the course of history to my own advantage. It for some mysterious reason like all of us follows one path then another like a gene that has no awareness, or consciously seek to survive.

The next effort of science will be to create a new body for the human being. It will have a perfect brain-machine interface to allow control and a human brain life support system so the brain can survive outside the body.

A computer environment into which human minds can be uploaded.

These are daunting challenges, to say the least.

Each will require the commitment and individual efforts of literally billions of our fellow humans, as well as many careful, specific programs put into effect by entire populations. But there is one action that we must take, individually and as a world, if any of the others are to be successful. It directly contradicts some of our deepest evolutionary programming, but if we are to survive as a species, we must stabilize or even reduce population size.

God forbid. Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.

However it is conceivable to imagine history going on for generations upon generations while bypassing the Scientific Revolution as modern culture and science have to rely on religious and ideological beliefs to justify and finance its existence and scientific research.

So the below fellows might be the very thing to complete the Job. Rid the world of the very thing that is destroying it. 

One last thought try not to join the shadow people by pressing the like button.  Leave a comment. When you comment, you inspire, when you press the like button you expire.

Here a few links that might open your eyes.

https://youtu.be/XNbaR54Gpj4            https://youtu.be/PVXQUItNEDQ

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