Are We Leaving Wildlife and Ourselves Behind?
As we approach the era in which some of these incredible predictions come true, will something compel us to safeguard wildlife long enough to even contemplate how we will preserve, in biological or robotic form, the consciousness of wild animals that inspire awe in so many of us?Predictions regarding the end of humanity as we know it are beginning to reach the mainstream media. Future-oriented groups are predicting that technology will continue to advance so quickly that by 2045 computers will have more computing power than all the human brains on earth combined. That not so distant moment is referred to as the “Singularity, the moment when technological change becomes so rapid and profound, it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history”.
According to futurist Raymond Kurzweil of the Singularity University, computing power is on track to surpass the brainpower of a mouse in 2015 and, shortly thereafter, the brainpower of a human in 2023. Once that happens, the definition of what it means to be human is supposed to explode to include the possibility that we humans may choose to upload our consciousness into a hard drive of some sort and continue our existence indefinitely, cheating death, in the form of a robot. Some may choose to spend that eternity on earth while others may choose to set off into space in search of a new home for this version of evolved Homo sapiens.
Advocates of the singularity theory are not the only ones predicting the end of our species in the near future. Authors Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans are coauthors of a new book called: Homo Evolutis: Please meet the next Human species; the main idea being that the mapping of the human genome will soon allow us to take control of our own evolution. When that moment arrives, Homo sapiens will be left behind in the evolutionary scheme of things and a new form of human will emerge.
These ideas are not buried somewhere in arcane texts or only discussed in the sheltered halls of academe; these are ideas that reach us through YouTube and other highly popular social media outlets.
However don’t make the mistake of believing that because the ideas are coming to us through YouTube that there isn’t serious scientific discussion going on behind the scenes; there is.
While some of these predictions seem to fall into the realm of science fiction others immediately raise ethical, religious and cultural questions of the most profound nature. It is hard not to wonder who will have access to such technology should it actually come to pass. Who will decide who gets to be a new species of human? Who will decide who gets to up load their consciousness into a robotic form that will survive into the future either here or on some new distant home in space?
Is it possible that groups of humans will voluntarily accept the demise of their own species and enthusiastically usher in the era of a new and improved biological or, even, a robotic, artificial life form? It is also difficult to contemplate whether or not anyone will care enough to ensure that other species survive long enough to embark on a bold new future. Given our dismal history protecting other species, even the most majestic such as elephants and tigers, the prediction that highly intelligent humans will accept the end of their own species may not bode particularly well for wildlife conservation. Has the human psyche already, at some level, accepted the extinction of the majority of wildlife species?
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, between 150-200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal go extinct every day. How many wildlife species that we currently believe to be highly intelligent will make it to the moment of the Singularity? While many organizations worldwide strive to protect wildlife species, using very different approaches, the list of endangered species continues to grow each year. One has to wonder if there will be any room on that future voyage for the consciousness of a wild tiger, wild elephant or great ape. Are we on the fast track to accepting the extinction of these species just as some of us are apparently embracing the controlled evolution of our own species?
As we approach the era in which some of these incredible predictions come true, will something compel us to safeguard wildlife long enough to even contemplate how we will preserve, in biological or robotic form, the consciousness of wild animals that inspire awe in so many of us? What ethical, religious, cultural, or even economic construct will emerge to convince us that we need to do a better job now in ensuring the survival of others species so that we can have the conversation about who, and what, gets on the space ship? Or have we already decided to leave the wildlife behind?
For more information on the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to protect animals around the world visit http://www.ifaw.org