Humans to Become Irrelevant
A reader named Science Tim posted an interesting comment this morning on the Mars item, and here's an excerpt of what he said:
"If we only work on solving the problems of making more and smarter robots and getting them into space instead of ourselves, then those are the problems that we will solve. Following that plan, eventually there will be no need for us to explore at all, the robots will do the whole job. If we make truly intelligent robots that are able to design and build the next generation of robots, then it's not too outlandish to conclude that there will be no need, eventually, for us to exist as either the creators of robotic explorers or as the consumers of the information they gather. They'll be doing it by themselves, for themselves. They won't have to do away with us in some nightmare scenario, we will simply make ourselves irrelevant."
My assumption is that we will work on making our lives more pleasurable, interesting, exciting, communicative, romantic -- that if you look at technology, it's ultimate achievement is not the moon landing, but the Gameboy, the Ipod, the cellphone and Viagra.
Everyone should check out the story by Joel Garreau that ran a couple of days ago. Garreau is exploring the future of what it means to be human. The visionaries see a merging of human and machine -- or even, in a different way, a decoupling of human intelligence and human flesh. You could build the case that we will indeed explore the universe, but without dragging along our hard-to-support flesh and blood.
But a lot of us are porch people, who like to hang out and listen to the birds and read a good book [and, admit it, drink wine and smoke a stoge], and we will fight to retain our flesh and blood, our good ol' human meat, and the Old Ways of doing things. Our motto is: Immortality in Moderation.
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