Transhumanism – it is happening today. Does man become technology?
Scientists are one step away from the breakthrough. A few months ago, Elon Musk connected a pig’s brain to a computer and is not going to stop there. Transhumanism, however, does not come close to us. This idea is already with us. The Internet of Bodies asks us new questions about human safety in the world of artificial intelligence.
The brain is a computer with the most perfect processor – it is a password that is a bit of a truism, but still technology is not able to match the power of nature. Scientists agree that there is only one “but”. Man does not use this enormous potential. And only a small part of the truth lies in the lack of willingness to cross new barriers. There is more truth in the analogy to cars. The Ferrari engine won’t give us a lot of profit when we put it in an antiquated bus model. Justin Sanchez of the Battelle Memorial Institute points out that we are limited in our perception and interaction with the world by the basic speed of our nervous system. However, as he argues, our brain could adapt to a medium other than human. The brain-computer connection – transhumanism – is no longer just a fantasy of writers or screenwriters.
Understand machines – understand people
There are many definitions of transhumanism. One of them says that it is human interaction with machines, robots, computers or simply with artificial intelligence. The distance between man and machine is shrinking and in a sense people become dependent on these systems, for example unable to make decisions without machine support. If we look at transhumanism in this way, then this is the era in which we live, and which Stanisław Lem presented to us in his stories or novels – says Dr. Maciej Kawecki, expert in the field of new technologies and president of the Lem Institute, who will speak at the online conference on June 15 Human 4.0 organized by SI-Consulting.
The global human development market reached $ 84 billion in 2020. According to Expert Market Research – one of the leading market research and business analysis companies – it will grow by 23% annually to reach $ 298 billion by 2026. These amounts include expenses, e.g. for the development of virtual reality, internet assistants or technologies that we can carry with us that include advanced electronics.
Humans are increasingly being supplemented, but also replaced by machines, and this trend was and is still visible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just look at VR technology. Thanks to it, high-class specialists could support or even instruct technicians from their place of residence, e.g. in the maintenance of machines. They did not have to travel to factories, and even there fewer people could stay in the production hall at a time. At the same time, the risk of diseases was reduced, which could lead to the stoppage of the entire line – describes Paweł Wala from SI-Consulting, a company specializing in the implementation of IT solutions that support management and optimize business processes of enterprises.
Shall we play Cyberpunk with the monkeys?
However, using artificial intelligence as an aid in industry, education or the military is just one step to putting transhumanism into practice. Robots that replace humans in repetitive jobs or complex algorithms that analyze thousands of data to finally provide a human solution on a tray, do not shock anyone anymore. However, we are still incredulous about the possibility of “transplanting” the human brain into immortal mechanical tissue. According to scientists, the biggest problem is the neuroplasticity of our brain. A mechanism that perfectly follows the natural environment, but puts up barriers when trying to connect it to the computer.
Very interesting data comes from a report by Kaspersky, which has been dealing with cybersecurity since 1997. A large-scale study of 14,500 adults from 16 countries in Europe and North Africa has produced unambiguous results. Most people made it clear that they wanted human enhancements to be used for the benefit of mankind, and 53% of people said they should be used to improve quality of life. In all countries, the goal of any human augmentation was to improve general physical health (40%) or vision (33%). Some respondents even expressed a desire to connect their smartphones to their bodies.
It is the Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) technology developed, among others, by in military laboratories, it can bring about a huge leap in speed between thought and its final execution. What may facilitate warfare and allow the control of weapons only with “mind power”, may also allow the functioning of all those whose body (except the brain) does not fulfill its basic functions in the future. Examples? In Australia, scientists from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia announced that they would soon begin clinical trials of the bionic eye in humans. Thanks to this solution, blind people will have a chance to restore their eyesight. The French startup NextMind, on the other hand, has introduced a wearable device with a brain-computer interface that provides real-time control over electronic devices.
One cannot fail to mention Elon Musk, whose company Neuralink connected pig brains to computers. Musk announces that soon – using the same technology – monkeys will have their first duel in the world of computer games. Who knows if the eccentric visionary will not go further and invite people to compete with animals.
We are already trans today …
Artificial intelligence that turns off the light when we are not in a given room? A fridge that tells you what to buy because stocks are low? The Internet of Things or – as others prefer – intelligent devices also do not surprise anyone anymore. A smartphone, a smart home, or many other devices with the prefix smart cease to be “cosmic” technology. They are becoming more common and the possibilities are limited only by the bandwidth of the internet network. Which, of course, changes with the advent of the 5G era.
Companies are wondering how to use this type of technology to better understand the customer and properly respond to their needs and expectations. There are also questions about the role of workers. About the requirements they will face due to new technologies and their needs in the dynamically changing labor market – adds Paweł Wala, who will also speak at the Human 4.0 conference on June 15.
Already today, we allow electronics to study our life activities and on this basis create more and more extensive analyzes about our health.
Internet of Bodies is already with us, and it doesn’t matter that most of us don’t have that awareness. The Walletmor company, behind which Wojciech Paprota stands, has developed chips that replace payment cards. On the other hand, one of the Swedish corporations implanted devices with which they can open doors and run office equipment. The question about the security of our data comes back like never before.
The fact that artificial intelligence is already able to analyze information about our health more effectively and diagnose faster than a doctor should be taken with the benefit of inventory. However, are we sure that the data from our smartwatch will not fall into the hands of the insurer who will calculate a higher premium on their basis? Won’t the employee’s surveillance go a step too far when the chip in his finger informs about his every move? We should start answering these questions fairly quickly, because the Internet of Bodies are not inventions of the future, but of the present – warns Paweł Wala from SI-Consulting.
Ethics in the wake of technology
We are already seeing a wide range of practical technologies being implemented in everyday areas of our lives, such as health and social care, sports, education and transport. Disturbing tendencies revive in cases of attempts to use the power of the human mind in the army. The United States Space Force is the newest branch of the US military and most dependent on advanced technology. Works are underway there, among others to create “robotic agents” who would be given greater autonomy in decision-making while reducing the burden on the human controlling factor.
It is worth looking more broadly and considering where the process of improving people and the world has been successfully carried out, and at which point we enter a new world in which people try to keep up with machines, created only to gain an advantage over other people – ends Wala.
The place of man in the process of automation and digitization is the key topic of the event, which will take place on June 15. The Human 4.0 conference will be conducted entirely online, and registration of applicants is already open and takes place via a specially prepared website: czlowiek.czteryzero.pl.
The list of special guests at the Human 4.0 conference includes high-class experts: Thomas Duschek, President of the Management Board of SAP Polska, Anna Streżyńska, President of the Management Board of MC2 Innovations, former Minister of Digitization, and Grzegorz Dzik, President of the Management Board of the Impel Group. Speakers will also include Mateusz Kusznierewicz, Olympic champion and general director of the Star Sailors League, and the whole will be co-hosted by Dr. Maciej Kawecki, an expert in the field of new technologies and president of the Lem Institute.
source: Human 4.0