As medical science continues to develop devices to replace human organs and limbs we are replacing more and more of ourselves with ‘subsystems’ that aren’t biologic. At the same time researchers are finding increasing ability to control artificial limbs with just thoughts. As these two developments rush towards increasing ability to replace our body parts, engineers are making amazing strides in robotics.
So the question becomes how long will it be before we achieve what Ray Kurzweil, Chief Technology Officer at Google, dubbed ‘The Singularity’ or that point in time where human consciousness transitions to a robotic or computer body? In his book, he proposed 2045 as the probable year this will first take place based on the rate of advances in medical science and robotic engineering.
"We are racing towards a radically different society that may result in intelligence inequality being a much bigger issue than any other."
How likely is it, that Kurzweil is correct in his prediction? No one can know, but the rate of discovery and refinement in the systems needed to make this transition are startling and accelerating at the same time.
What would it be like to make the transition? The Ghost in the Machine: a novel explores that question. What would it be like to need to charge your batteries rather than sit down to dinner with your family? How do you deal with the inability to create feelings, but at the same time you have remembrances of them? How would your relationships with others change as you realize you are now immortal, in that you will never die? But at the same time, you can be constantly upgraded with new ‘features’ and abilities that will test your 24 X 7 time available to work or play or whatever, since you no longer need to sleep.
Looking at the larger questions, what happens when those who first transition have an advantage over all those who have not and do not? How does society change? How do relationships change? What is the meaning of sexuality when you can no longer conceive or bear children?
We are racing towards a radically different society that may result in intelligence inequality being a much bigger issue than any other.