I love technology. Science brings us devices and systems to make our lives easier all the time. In fact, the only thing I dislike about modern technology is that one mind-controlled drone race in April 2016 that happened to be called “Ready, Set, Think!“. This event is literally the only thing that prevents my blog from showing on the first page of Google results when you look up its name.
I understand that a lot of people don’t really like modern technology. There is a strong correlation between age and appreciation of it, which I suppose has probably always been the case. I was born in the computer era, grew up with easily accessible internet and video games, and I am a nerd. Of course I love technology. 40-50 years from now, I will probably have trouble adapting to new technology, and Pokemon Go might be an old-school classic, or completely forgotten by then. I might whine about kids not appreciating classics because they spend their whole day playing whatever is cool at that point.
There is definitely a generation gap. I actually personally know some people that complain about some government services requiring internet access because “Not everyone has or wants a computer” while being completely unable to understand how anyone could want to live without a landline phone. I also know some people who regularly complain about bad drivers, slow drivers, drunk drivers, and traffic jams, while also being completely opposed to self-driving cars and vowing to never use one. From my personal experience, losing a friend, a family member or an acquaintance in a traffic accident and being completely aware that even the incomplete self-driving cars that Google is testing are already safer than human drivers doesn’t seem to change their mind.
As Tim explained so well in his artificial intelligence post, with his “current technology would blow past person’s mind” example, technological progress is accelerating. Today, even a 25 years gap (parent/child) is enough to cause cultural dissonance. As a commenter said on my video games vs sports post, watching people play video games today is like rock music a not so long ago, parents don’t understand at all the kid’s interest, and might even be scared of the influence it will have on their children. Not taking into account social status, 200 years ago, the cultural dissonance wouldn’t happen after just one generation. It would take at the very least a grandparent/grandchildren situation, and usually more than that, to create real understanding problems. So what about the future? 10 years from now, will close siblings be unable to understand each other? Also, where does it end? Considering the logarithmic nature of the phenomenon, at some point people that are extremely close in age might have cultural dissonance with each other (still provided they have the same social status).
The more I think about it, the more I realize immortality would actually just make this problem worse. At least medical immortality, like instant “get young again” pills. So what can we do about it?
I personally think the best resolution to this conflict might actually be cyborgs. The process to turn every single human being into an immortal cyborg is already well underway. Almost everyone is now carrying a calculator, an encyclopedia, an instant communication device and a world map in their pockets, as well as nearly infinite entertainment. The fact that’s it’s not literally in our body is just an insignificant detail. We are slowly but surely getting cyborg abilities. Soon, the solution to lost phones will be implants that allow the same things, and people will love them. Furthermore, you might not notice it, but around the world, artifical limbs are improving every day. As of today, they are not better than biological limbs, but I see no reason why they wouldn’t improve well past our human abilities eventually. When the time comes where you can get artificial legs that allow you to run faster, for longer, and don’t need regular exercise to stay in shape, rich people will want them. When it becomes cheap, lots of people will want them. Obviously, some of us will dislike the idea of getting voluntarily amputated, but I predict it will become more and more accepted as people notice how great the cyborg’s lives are. You can’t just get worse result than your friend in competitions, physical work and energy required and still pretend your method is better. You will think you’re right for maybe years, but eventually, as your limbs get old, weak and wrinkly, you will give in. The same goes for arms, back, belly, and even the heart. At that point, it’s only a matter of time until we get the same for heads. In the beginning, we might keep the brain, because people are scared of the other option, but still, perfect vision with zoom and overlay UI, self-cleaning teeth, self-combing hair, hearing sensitivity and smell regulator are very attractive.
You might be thinking, those small improvements are not worth the danger of losing your head. But keep in mind that in a society where most people are at least partly artificial, if the surgery is cheap , safe, and people who tried it all like it, there is literally no reason to say no to those improvements. Then, after that, the next logical step is complete brain uploading into a computer that would by then, be better than our brain at literally any task. So we might have an entire civilization of complete artifical humans.
Or we might all get wiped out by a super artificial intelligence instead. Either way, technology seems pretty closely linked to our fate as humans.