My Best Guesses
...about where we've been and where we're going.
First humans started innovating with technology. Freight trains and automobiles and televisions were the first signs of the great changes that were to come. These were simply better at their tasks than previous methods such as horse-drawn carriages and newspapers.
The world started getting richer. It started getting much more comfortable. It became possible to live life not just devoid of any real hardship but even devoid of any physical work at all. People stopped walking. They stopped working, at least they stopped working the way they used to. They stood in front of machines or screens and pushed buttons and pulled levers.
Since machines were stronger than any man, the strength gap between men and women became irrelevant. Women demanded their place alongside men since both were physically inferior to machines and physical work was no longer a task for humans anyway. As computers advanced, we became equally inferior to machines mentally. Men and women became equal. Equally irrelevant.
Humans no longer did anything hard. Machines became necessary for all functions from building roads to keeping bank records. This continues unabated. Soon we won’t even drive our cars.
People now have more free time. The quest for pleasure has became more and more important, even paramount. Since life presents no real challenges anymore, they create challenges by pushing the limits of social mores further and further out. Indeed, social mores themselves no longer serve any purpose since they are no longer necessary for the smooth functioning of society. Machines are now necessary for that, not morally constrained humans.
As social mores decline and the pursuit of pleasure advances, people experiment with previously forbidden things. They engage in homosexuality. They have multiple sex partners. They wear the clothing of the other gender. They abandon their religions. They abandon all the constraints imposed by the less advanced societies they are emerging from. And they like it. They like their lives devoid of hardship and constraint. As I do. I like it.
Children are now a burden. They are the ultimate responsibility. They interfere with pleasure. Since pleasure is now the only thing that matters, and duty is anathema to pleasure, people stop having children. In the last 40 years, the birth rate has fallen among white women from 3 live births per woman to 1. It takes 2.1 just to survive.
Still, survive we will. That instinct has not failed us. We may live only for pleasure, but we still want to live. Being as ingenious as ever, perhaps more so than ever, we will find ways to survive both individually and as a species even though we are no longer willing to have children.
Baby factories are a logical way to ensure the species survives. Perhaps the only logical way. We will create machines to make humans for us, just as we created machines to work and think for us. We will also create creches to raise these factory-made humans since we no longer wish to bear even that burden.
As we ensure the survival of the species, we will not forget our individual survival. We have already developed technology to reprogram our own cells to kill cancer and that is being tested with great success as I write this. Soon we will reprogram every part of our own bodies. Unwanted cholesterol will be gotten rid of. Unwanted fat cells, too. Unwanted everything.
Once that’s done, we will start adding things that are desirable and editing things that are not currently alterable. Every aspect of our being will become reprogrammable, including race, which is why I find the idea of racial nationalism absurd. Black people will become white and white people will become black as their whims dictate. I don’t just mean their skin colour, either. I mean all aspects of race including bone structure and facial features. Life spans will become effectively infinite. Women of 300 years in age will look 18 if they want. Most will want.
There is one thing that these advances will not cure: boredom. When sickness is unheard of, death is optional and aging is unnecessary, isn’t it obvious that we will keep going? Why not redesign the brain so that it can compute as well as a computer? Why not add communications capabilities that will render speech and even language itself unnecessary? Why not redesign our arms so they can lift anything, and our legs so that they can run as fast as the wind? Why not grow wings and fly? At this point we will no longer even look human but we won’t be close to finished yet.
In time, we will even advance beyond the physical. Why limit ourselves to our bodies? Why not transmit the consciousness that is Reg instantly across the galaxy to another body entirely? And then back again as I see fit? Or maybe even that will be unnecessary. Why not be in 2 places at once? Or 10? The physical aspects of our being will become disposable and irrelevant and we’ll switch between them as we currently switch between smartphones without losing anything. Adding, removing and editing corporeal terminals of ourselves (aka bodies) will be no more dramatic than changing one of those phones is today.
Eventually, why not network all of humanity so we are all always online and in sync? Even if it is first optional and there are holdouts, in time, like the Internet today, it will become impossible to function normally if you’re not on the grid. The new grid. The grid that replaces humanity entirely.
That grid will not be humanity’s final form. My guess is it will just be the beginning. My organic brain is incapable of grasping the challenges it will face, however, or the next steps in its evolution. I doubt it will think of itself as human, though, any more than we think of ourselves as the single-celled creatures that networked together to create humans. Perhaps it will decide to clone itself into multiple grids and start the cycle of individuality to collective consciousness all over again. I don’t know. I am no more qualified to advise it than one of those single-celled creatures is qualified to advise me.
I don’t know how much of this I will see, but I have seen enough to believe this is what is coming. Read your Bible/Qu’ran/Torah all you want. It will change nothing. This is our destiny. We will create that which replaces us and then merge into it. It is possible this is the true purpose of the Universe.
Some Trivial Predictions Along The Way
The Extremely Trivial
Mobile computers will displace desktops. Workstations will still be used for some time.
Use of paper for communication will be unheard-of. Even for archival purposes, paper will be abandoned.
Most vehicles will drive themselves. Car accidents will become extremely rare.
Cars will evolve drastically when they no longer need to accommodate human drivers. They will have standing headroom, Internet-connected desks, couches, entertainment centers, bathrooms and bedrooms. Living in your car may become acceptable.
3d printing will revolutionize manufacturing. People will 3d-print/manufacture most things they need in their homes. Print templates will form the basis of a new economy. Eventually, when you can 3d print your next 3d printer, computers will finally reproduce.
Embedded, subdermal technology will become commonplace and eventually mandatory. It’s only a matter of time before we have small receptacles for tech embedded inside our bodies. Nobody will know you just answered a phone call again. Everything everyone does will be recorded.
The Less Trivial
Once everything we do gets recorded, property crime will effectively disappear.
As communication becomes more ubiquitous, privacy will cease to exist as a common concept.
Incarceration will be abandoned as a method of dealing with crime.
Race will become a matter of choice. Gene therapy will make it possible to change far more than the colour of your skin. You’ll be able to change your entire racial makeup right down to facial features and bone structures. Obviously, this will kill racism.
A society’s birth rate is directly and inversely proportional to its prosperity. As societies get richer, they stop breeding. Right now this means Africa and Asia are producing most of the world’s children, but they too are becoming rich. Within 50 years, we will start to shrink.
As birthrates dwindle, humanity will eventually realize it faces extinction and will take action. The first step down this path will be baby factories and creches. In time, these engineered humans will represent the majority of human reproduction. In more time, immortality will make this irrelevant.
Some subsets of humanity will refuse to accept these engineered humans as real humans and will implement different rules to govern them. This will amount to slavery for a time, although it will likely be limited to small areas and won’t last long by cosmic standards.
You will be able to choose your sexuality. Pop a pill, become gay. Pop another, become straight.
Love will become less meaningful as a concept. We grow dispassionate. This has already started.
The nuclear family of one husband & wife for life with many children, is dead. Forever.
Conventional sex will become less and less important to us with each passing generation.
Not At All Trivial
Human lifespans will first double, then triple, then grow tenfold, and will eventually become effectively infinite.
Lifespans will approach immortality. Science will cure most diseases. Self driving cars and other technology will prevent most accidents. Suicide will become humanity’s most common cause of death, and common it will be.
Virtual reality will become as important as what we currently think of as the real world. Possibly more important. Eventually, we will begin to see there is no real difference. All aspects of life, including survival, are a game. Cliché though it is, we all lose in the end.
Hedonism will become more important to us, at least for some time. It may well become our primary purpose as life forms for the next phase of our existence. Once survival and reproduction are automated and no longer challenging, hedonism may well be all we have left.
Organized religion has run its course, served its purpose, and will die out.
Justice and morality will cease to be relevant concepts as we advance. Benefit to the species will emerge as a driving precept. Punishment for the sake of justice will be unheard-of. This is a good thing.
Piece by piece, we will replace the biological parts of our bodies. We will make ourselves better organs, better eyes, better ears, hearts that do not fail, skin that does not cut, until we wake up one day to find we have become computers.
Yes, that means at some point in the far distant future, we will abandon our bodies. They will serve no purpose.
At some point we’ll figure out what laughter is. Then we’ll probably stop doing it.
The Internet was just the first step in humanity’s shift from being a collection of individuals to being a collective. Every advancement in communication takes us further down that path. In time, there will be no individuals. Humanity will be one.
As we advance, both spoken and written language will become too inefficient for us. When an idea can be transmitted instantly, accurately and unambiguously, words will be useless. In time, this will result in the death of all languages as we know them.
However fast humanity advances, and however far it goes, computers will go further, faster. They will surpass us in every way, including creativity. Our destiny is to create that which will replace us, and then merge into it.