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We are rather clever little machines.
If you throw in enough food and leave us a while eventually you get language, the printing
press, moon landings, instant mash potato, and Debbie Does Dallas
This is thanks to a nifty piece of hardware called brain.
It weighs about 5 percent of your body but takes in 20 percent of your calories.
Anyway, there is a problem.
The software keeps getting updated every few years thanks to culture, but the hardware
is exactly the same as it was back when we were savages.
Upgrades to the human CPU take about a few hundred thousand years even for small bug
fixes because evolution is very very slow.
But these restrictions might all be about to change in our lifetime and here’s why.
Quick version:
This is Ray Kurzweil.
He's a smart guy.
He's invented lots of stuff you've probably used yourself, and has written a bunch of books.
Now, he thinks human technology is getting better exponentially.
That means it's not getting better year by year, it's doubling at how much better it's
getting as it goes on.
So, if it keeps up at this rate he thinks, this century, we're going to get to a thing called the singularity.
It's a word borrowed from physics and it basically means that there will be a point when technology
is improving so fast, you can't even begin to imagine what the near future will look
Rational Minibreak:
Before we get deeper into this, let's just admit that if there's one thing we're worse
at than not murdering each other it's predicting the future.
If you told a victorian that in about 100 years we'd all have this communications thing
in our pockets that gives you access to all human knowledge they might've said “Flaming
tallywags, tell what do you use it for?”
And if you're going to answer honestly, you'll say porn and cats.
And quite a lot more porn than cats.
In other words, we always expect utopia is coming and what we usually get is smarter
ways to do stupid stuff we've always been doing.
Anyway, let's imagine Ray Kurzweil is right and the singularity has happened.
Technology is improving so quickly we can't keep up with it.
What does the world look like?
Well, maybe we can answer that with an acronym: GRAIN.
This stands for genetics, robotics, AI, and nanotechnology, and even if only one of these
really takes off, that might mean the end of humanity as we know it.
So, for example if genetics gets pretty good, we're might start redesigning humans.
That means possibly removing stuff like mental illness, designer babies or splitting into
thousands of different species of humans.
It may've already started.
There's a very strange new technique called Crispr which means we might soon starting
editing the genes of human embryos.
Please go and watch Kurzgesagt's video for a good explanation.
Or there’s robotics, which could revolutionise agriculture, and again humans.
Hey there.
Having trouble lifting stuff?
Yeah, I am actually.
How about robot arms?
Pretty cool eh?
Yeah, amazing!
And those legs look a bit tired.
Need an upgrade?
Oh, yes please.
Abracadabra, robot legs.
Wow, that's awesome!
And are you tired of those silly biological genitals?
No, I like my genitals.
Please don't touch my genit
We can cut that little fella off in a second.
Hey presto, robot schlong
Or artificial intelligence might get big, but I think we all know how that one might
pan out if it goes tits up.
Or nanotechnology.
Nanobots are little microscopic robots that hopefully will perform all sorts of complicated
tasks and make copies of themselves.
Just a quick doomsday scenario for you, say you make two nanobots, obviously they make
four in no time, then eight, then sixteen, thirty two, sixty four, one hundred twenty
eight, until you could convert the entire planet into nanomachines by the end of the
And possibly, like, the universe a bit later?
So GRAIN, that’s the acronym to remember and it might mean the end of the world as
we know it.
Some of these technologies are coming and we’re going to put them in our bodies.
And if that happens to a large extent, are we human?
Or are we dancer
This the neocortex cortex.
It seems to be the main part of the brain that separates us from the rest of the mammals
as we have such a large one and it allows us to reason in an abstract way.
Some people think what we’re doing with our technology is kind of building another neocortex
but made of silicon.
We've already started outsourcing our brains to our technology.
When and IFFFF devices start being implanted inside the brain, it isn't technology anymore,
it might be the next step in the evolution of life itself.
And the humans using that technology won't be humans anymore in the traditional sense.
We will have started on our journey up the intelligence ladder to the next step in our
Or nothing might happen and the future will be incredibly boring. But that seems unlikely. All right, real talk for a minute.
We're probably mostly wrong about what the future will look like.
We usually are.
But if only 5% of this stuff happens , IF, it will be bigger than the printing press,
than the internet, bigger than fire even. And it might mean extinction or the birth of a
new species of human but one thing is for sure. If it happens, we'll get to see the
beginning of it at least.
We might already be watching it without realising.
There's no telling what we're going to turn ourselves into but there's every reason to
think it's part of a natural process.
Just because it's technology that we're going to use to evolve this time, doesn't mean it
wasn't always going to happen.
This might be how species develop in the universe, first through biology, then through technology
and then something else entirely maybe.
The future we live in today was unimaginable to our ancestors but at least we're the same
species as them.
Tomorrow's humans might be not be the same species, and stranger than that, they might
look back on our situation with the same regard we give to primates or even single celled life.
life. Genetics, robotics, AI, and nanotechnology and whatever else we invent, might rewrite the rules of biology.
Every step we've taken has been on the outside so far, exploring our planet, exploring the
It’s different this time.
This might be the first adventure that goes inwards instead.
But we have a lot of bosses to beat before we can get to the next level.
We’ve got doomsday weapons, deadly contagions, possible climate catastrophe, political tensions
and god knows what else.
But if we make it through all that, if we turn into whatever new species we're going
to become, it's probably going to be incredible.
Our descendants might one day look back on this century and think how amazing it was that
considering how violent and stupid we were sometimes, that we managed to do so much with so
little, and that in spite of all the odds against us, we survived anyway and turned
into something better and wiser, whatever that happens out to be.