Call me Ishmael. – Ken Nickerson
or, What I did on my summer vacation
Each summer I return to the sea for two weeks of reading, writing, and retraining my visual cortex from the fabricated verticals of the city to the horizontal of the natural world. Of this three-part-act, staring off into the blue-on-blue vastness is like a hallucinogenic siren’s call, coaxing all thoughts into a vast parallel world of the deep.
The Play’s the Thing
Act 1 opens on a comfy chair, reading until saturation. Words appear-and-reappear so often that your brain begins to cheat, forming mnemonics to lazily and efficiently push through the text. At some point, even the word “the” becomes “t1” to save a flicker of the neural flame’s 15 calories/hour burn-rate. At saturation, words and thoughts converge into one.
Act 2 supplants the chair and pages for sand and a timeless stare across the sea, if only for aesthetic effect. It’s so blue. On perfect days, the sea and sky merge as one. This merger initiates a quantum-like fusion of sensory overload-and-deprivation, awakening dormant neurons deep in the mind’s cave, axons long atrophied at their synaptic termination. Blue-shift may be nature’s preferred color (frequency) for thoughts coming towards you at high speed.
After three days of contemplation, the cave lights up with the power of a 20W bulb, and a new world view stumbles out. As world views go, it’s “mostly harmless,” but so smooth it could serve as a candidate for the Avogadro project [u(NA h) / NA h = 4.5 × 10−10] or a perfect simulacra musket ball.
An extensive period of orchestrated procrastination follows, ceased when a suitable stool is secured at a no-wifi bar, featuring perfect espresso(s) and a street level vista. Like a catchy jingle, the demon of a new world view is exorcised in a possessed period of two-fingered telegraphic like type. Later the documented remains are sealed like a bottled message, and tossed back into the sea, or just emailed to family and friends. Emotions exhausted like the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
This year, I’ve been thinking about the iBinary state change that’s emerging over the next 10–20 years. This change is something like Plato taught, forms (digital us) surpass the objects (physical us) and we become, en masse, more fungible than currencies on a global market; decanted (downloaded) into autonomous robots or, like angels, uploaded to the cloud for an eternity of post-mortal computational bliss. This memo offers some chaotic notes on: society, economics, AI, synthetic biology, weapons and the sea-of-scenarios they present.
Earlier memos (“Death and Taxes” (D&T), “Alchemy” and “Non-Sequitur”) offered similar themes, each from tangental perspectives (Evolution, AI, and What is (un)Known). Titled “Call me Ishmael,” this memo reminds us, that we are survivors of a violent world, clinging to a wooden coffin on a vast sea, waiting for rescue or death.
Given the Earth has produced around 100 billion species and only 100 million (rapidly declining) have survived, we should be feeling pretty good about our chances. The only difference is, we’re all in this together; the whole shebang.
My advice, we evolve or die.
Evolve or Die
I’ve often wondered if the last Neanderthal laid back on the open plains, looked up at the sky and thought, “Was it worth it?”
Shortly after the earth formed, about 4 billion years ago, prokaryotic life forms flagellated themselves into dominance for almost 2 billion years. Eventually the unicellular organisms combined into multi-cellular species like slime and sponges, still found in meeting rooms all over the world today. Our non-talking relatives first appeared as Homininae about 10 million years ago, and Homo Sapiens in a dozen or so configurations in the last 250,000 years. Lucky for us (Human 1.0), we predicted better than our peers, surviving to the modern day, so we can now glance-up and predict a new rung on the evolutionary ladder. New (Human 2.0) life in several post Darwin formats; each competing for dominance, by the start of the next century.
Life fights for more life.
The next evolutionary epoch nullifies the need for slow, occasionally random (unpredictable) evolution on Darwin time to something sort-of predicted in iBinary time, ideally an evolution with deep meaning. There are more than five D&T options competing. I believe Human 2.0 will either be an upload or download. We’ll jettison our bodily-sea, the soft and squishy water-bag housing our consciousness and expand our ironic footprint beyond earth, the solar system, and into deep space as a panspermia gift from our progeny in a more durable format.
It’s impossible to predict which of the competing future technologies (e.g. Singularity) Earth will ejaculate into space, but we talking monkeys are not the evolutionary end-point. Unless we terminate life on Earth by: accident, vengeance, ignorance or a massive impact descends like Rods-of-Zeus from the heavens we pray to return.
We (Human 1.0) are “Prediction Machines” or, more colloquially, storytellers. Our talking monkey brains, encased in small caves (craniums) feeding on sensory input while seeking meaning to drive optimal responses from many possibilities (prediction). What’s harder-to-gain from these sensory->response shadows is meaning. Our brains operate at 15–20 Watts using 250–350 calories per day. Enough wattage to predict what might come next, but not always enough to know why, and certainly not enough to magically exert control at a distance or function beyond 3 of the possible 10 dimensions.
If meaning originates within us, we can thank those calories for helping us find it. Calories like watts, are a unit of energy. The Human 1.0 brain is roughly 2% of biomass, but requires 20% of our energy consumption to function. Calories are a difficult measure (of sorts) for what it takes to think (energy); but like networking, meaning comes from a network effect between two or more people (brains) to have relevance. I believe meaning forms like Metcalfe’s Law as messages are transmitted when the brain uses calories, but only accepted without error when Venn with empathy.
Without calories (energy) you have no hardware (brain), but without empathy (software) you have no meaning. Without meaning, we have no meaning (self-referential).
Empathy is not a unique human trait (we may have acquired it “Baldwin effect” from our symbiotic evolution with wolves, but it’s a biological trait and thats a potential concern when thinking about the evolutionary paths to Human 2.0. Todays closest proxy of Human 2.0 is prototyped by corporations, a non-biological entity with “Equal Protection” (USA 14th Amendment). I expect this amendment will expand to include future upload/download species of new design, after a period of asymmetrical conflict proving symmetry or superiority to us.
Corporations are ready prototypes of Human 2.0. They have equal protection rights, predict and vote (campaign contributions) on politics, can live forever, learn in a hive-like fashion, and distribute or hedge their vital fluids (wealth) in the event of threat, catastrophe or taxes from the nation state. By 2020, corporations can even expand into space, the ultimate return goal for Human 2.0 in the next century.
Unfortunately, corporations have evolved a bit like psychopaths, with no purchase of empathy. Stock based reward systems have nullified empathy beyond superficial public relations as a tax to the primary goal of increased personal and shareholder value. Predicting and delivering the maximum return (revenue — expense) created in a global hyper-competitive arena. It’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is. For Human 2.0, the corporate lack of empathy may not be a significant factor (happiness), but for todays 7.6 billion Human 1.0’s it is.
No Meaning is Just Mean
Once empathy and therefore meaning is lost, life from a Human 1.0 perspective, becomes just mean. As we transition to Human 2.0, our relationship with the: environment, economy, technology and the rules for civil society will dramatically change. The pursuit-of-happiness becomes a complicated, stratified caste like model, measured by wealth and power accumulation, not by inner joy or the good of the entire population. Early G20 adopters to Human 2.0 type values, encourage aggressive wealth hoarding, millions of times beyond required basic needs. This consolidation of wealth to the few, becomes a blackhole, severely impacting the quality of life to the many.
Sadly, we are ready victims for a quick-fix, that only temporarily masks the symptoms by obfuscating the cause in a fog.
I like economists! they’re smart, thoughtful and logical, but they use mathematics like astrologers use astronomy. Seeking to be less dismal, in the 1900s economists shifted focus from economy-of-life concerns to the building-of-models. These new models were encrypted in mathematics, processed on computers, and shared by a new priesthood to conjure possible future(s), each with a coin-flip like accuracy. When analog life is sampled and converted to digital (A2D), real world information is abstracted and the soft, squishy Human 1.0, NP! details are lost somewhere between 0-and-1.
The shift of economic focus, obfuscated Adam Smith’s message of societal needs, creating models that dehumanized labor to only a unit cost. The greater economic impact to an individual, remained largely ignored until Thomas Piketty. His recognition of “r > g” is an economic pithy of Human 1.0 disenfranchisement. The economy is just mean.
Technology like fire helped spark events to create civilization, changing and motivating us in towards a Human 2.0. Because technology consumes energy (calories) but lacks empathy, it has no real meaning and is therefore neither good or evil. Technology does not empathize with us, but it can monitor and control us en masse with an ever-growing digital panopticon. Sensors, data tracking, and so-called intelligent systems can ultimately quantify us to its level (dehumanize) and create predictive vectors and nudges to prompt a stimulus->response that would make Pavlov drool. Technology is sometimes, just mean.
Upon arrival in London, Gandhi was reportedly asked “What do you think of Western civilization?” his response, “I think it would be a good idea.” Society looses its empathy because we, in a Human 2.0 world, are loosing ours. A society without empathy has no meaning, and without meaning it’s just mean.
Like nature, society abhors a vacuum. Without empathy and meaning, all of society’s calories re-focused on stratification. Survival of the fittest! As measured by the accumulation of wealth (power), and the desire to live forever or legitimize it’s white-water like cascade (tax-free) to generations of descendants. The presumed entitlement of massive inherited wealth is possibly sub-optimal for the species, and certainly mean.
This aggressive bifurcation of wealth could see 1 or 2 men having as much wealth as the bottom 90% in the G20 countries. For many, massive disparity of wealth destroys hope for the future, and may create conditions for a Malthusian catastrophe of the “let them eat cake” French revolution in civilized G20 countries.
A few wealthy acquaintances occasionally invite “techie” me to give talks on future scenarios. At a recent no-mans-island retreat, the after-party conversation darkened to the ironic topic of survival. From a friendly, what is the finest bug-out bag? (ECHO-SIGMA SOG SE) to the names of the Jiankui twins and if CRISPR was “safe yet” for life extension? Slightly more telling was if Bitcoin’s value will hold after “the apocalypse” and how one might 3D print a personal rail gun for when the “shit-hits-the-fan”.
Panic rooms are the norm for any red blooded mansion, but now hardened underground facilities await the Zombie apocalypse. Some in New Zealand, others in Sudbury (Canada) with weapons cache and ample room for the atomic family, their dogs and the security detail.
Controlling the younger, stronger security staff is a whispered part of the conversation, including thoughts on necessary (involuntary) “organ donation” and potential “blood boy” options. Society is a reflection of us, and that reflection is just mean.
In case you’re wondering, the Zombies are Us.
We are De-Vo
The ascent of Human 1.0 was greatly accelerated by leveraging technology, to effectively use energy working the natural environment, driving growth and domain. Tremendous invention and effort was exercised to scale-up, build new tools, that on aggregate used energy (calories) to better build ever-newer tools in an innovation spiral from cave-to-condo. All tools (measured by unit of work) are labor saving devices. Like Human 1.0 these devices serve, the intelligence of tools initially evolved slowly, but by the 1950s, they reached a complexity that is beyond what one person could fully understand.
Adam Smith’s work created the meme that broke down the craftsman and his art, to sub and sub-sub-x task. These task were unpacked to the lowest common denominator of human competence and caloric needs, facilitating a state change in production and therefore wealth creation. To implement the transition from craft to production, the industrial era required masses of former field laborers (and their children) to consolidate into cities operating the brainless machines during hard times.
By the 1930s, electricity, relays and toggle switches added simple functional intelligence to industry supporting bigger machines. The technology that followed: transistor, integrated circuit, computers and software made it possible to run vast scale machines, with a fraction of the human resources previously required. Educated labour traded up to more complex roles, designing, building and servicing ever-more intelligent machines in a new service industry.
By the 1960s, career success evolved from showering after work, to showering before work as we moved from fields to cities and more upright roles.
In 2012 a breakthrough of an old technology shocked and re-awakened the Artificial Intelligence (AI) world. The reemergence of AI, funded by CIFAR and led by Geoffrey Hinton at the University of Toronto. AI work had hunkered down, surviving a self-inflicted nuclear-winter, forged by years of over-promising and under-delivering. Hinton et al. thawed the AI winter, leveraging massive training datasets, processors on gaming video cards (GPUs) and extra layers of artificial (software) neurons. This work achieved tremendous, un-predicted success, especially in: pattern, image, text and voice recognition.
The impact of Hinton’s success, sparked a new-new AI industry worth trillions of dollars. AI is a sea-change technology at the scale of the Internet circa 1995. We stand at the furthest outpost of comprehending how far this labor saving tool can go. Every calorie-consuming role is going to be challenged and changed. Like lamp lighters at the turn of the last century, truck drivers to radiologists can already sense the coming twilight of their profession.
Current estimates are on the order of 50% labour impact (reduction) by 2030 (+/- 5 years). Fortunately, recent research discovered that people would rather lose their job to an AI+Robotics (AIR) than their neighbor.
Leveraging AI, new and updated tools will rapidly scale-up, eventually impacting all of society and the economy of life. New tools have always surprised us with their impact on labor, but AI’s shotgun like velocity-and-spread is greater than all previous experiences. When AI is fully implemented, on these new AIR tools, they will leave little wiggle room for most existing careers. The social and economic impact is magnified by the loss of jobs and asset ownership. AIR tools are developed, funded and owned by corporations, further accelerating the bifurcation of wealth. For many in the work force, this is an acceleration into a world of just mean.
The Future is De-Vo
We are witnessing the emergence of the World of De. “De” is the modern meme for calorie-saving optimization that occurs when AI aggressively abstracts the need for Human 1.0.
Some examples of De are as follows:
- De-Corporations: Uber (taxi/no taxi), AirBnB (hotel/no hotel), Amazon (store/no store).
- De-Politics: Becoming POTUS costs $1B. “One person, one vote” is superseded by one dollar, one vote in a two-party system where corporate citizens invest in politics.
- De-Work: Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Synthetic Biology.
- De-Planet: Re-emergence of the (corporate) space race.
- De-Peace: Perpetual war.
- De-Militarize: Replacement of all Human 1.0 forces with the ironically named “Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems” (LAWS).
- De-Society: Bifurcation of wealth, bottomless debt, loss of social safety net.
- De-Urban: Cities, Super Cities, City states, consolidation of population.
- De-People: Secondary impact of De-Urban, when children flip from an investment in the future to a cost too great to bear.
The World of De and Human 2.0 are scenarios for next century, but the transition has begun. It’s possible that new economic programs like guaranteed minimum income (GMI) may lessen the negative social impact of De. But in a wealth-bifurcated, debt driven, city state world with marginal prospects of career options, we’ll witness De-People (9) accelerated by factors such as De-Urban (8). New AIR, Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and Synthetic Biology are emerging technology accelerates, thumbing the timing of what is possible.
Like Elmer Fudd, for many seasons researchers hunted the AI wascally wabbit. Understanding what works and mostly what doesn’t work, the math, the code, the intent, the training, and each time, winter comes. The early explorers like Pitts and McCulloch (1940s), Weiner (1940s), Von Neurman (1940s), Turing (1930s), Minsky (1950s), Newell (1950s), Shannon (1950s), Weizenbaum (1960s), Winograd (1970s) to the newer players like Wolfram (1980s), Hopfield (1980s) and the new Crazy Canucks: LeCun, Bengio and the master, Hinton (2000+), eventually the unlimited-promise(s) encounters a limited-reality, prompting us to call Canada Goose to wait it out for another winter and memories past.
Artificial Intelligence is difficult to define. The horseless carriage (car) and heavier-than-air flight (airplane) were more intuitive, possibly because of human-scale design, relative initial simplicity of the mechanics or because you could give-them-a-spin. Historically, computers were humans (WW2) doing manual calculations, eventually replaced by “Tabulation Machines”, later renamed computers (non-human) as they replaced that previous role. Intelligence is different, it’s more akin to art than artificial, and I think it was a mistake not to call it something less foreign (Artelligence?) so we could equally, collectively quip “I don’t know Intelligence, but I know AI like!”
The current summer of AI involves a back-to-the-future use of Neural Networks. Neural networks are a sort-of connected summations of values, not unlike you would see in Excel at say “G10”, summing up some values into a cell that calculates a weighted average (=SUMPRODUCT) to decide the firing of a neuron/cell forward-or-backward in your .XLS to fit the data to an optimal solution space. This new AI, led by neural networks has existed since the 1940s, but lacked two resources to achieve results: computational power (GPUs, TPUs) and massive amounts of tagged data. Neural networks now work, because we can support the computational complexity and serve the volumes of data required to train neurons SUMPRODUCT(s) to superior results not possible with traditional known coding techniques. In traditional software, code drives the data, but in AI the data drives the code.
Artificial General Intelligence
Short term (2020–2030) I have mostly-zero fear of an AGI forming by accident or plan. I believe it’s unlikely we will awaken (“dull yellow eye of the creature open” using Boolean algebra on a silicon substrate. With respect to the playful genius of John Conway, like so many aspects of life, it-just-won’t-compute.
There is no path from the current AI renaissance to AGI. AI via neural networks is accomplishing amazing task-oriented efficiency, but it is a flawed-and-fractured view of what intelligence is. Todays AI mimics intelligence, it’s really more like an Artificial Idiot Savant (AIS). AI/AIS is good at one task, crazy bad at all others. For example, AlphaGo can easily beat 18 time world champion Lee Sedol at Go, but you could easily beat it at: Checkers, Crazy 8s, Bridge or even Xs-and-Os; all without tremendous computational work or reprogramming (training). Unlike AI, humans can operate on sparse-data. For example, as a young child, you may have touched a hot stove… once. You did not require more samples (millions), or explore with other digits, your nose, tongue to know not to do that again. It became a general-rule upon single execution. You could immediately understand that hot things generally can be painful, but not-always. Some hot things, like a hot chocolate on a AI winter day can be comforting.
The lack of an AGI model is key to the flawed-and-fractured view of AI, and its potential to scale-up into something greater. Today we design AI systems like early attempts at flight, by making wings that flap. The neural networks of today are 2D cartoons when compared to the ones in your brain. Today, we don’t know how many types of neurons we have. It’s certainly in the hundreds, maybe thousands. The Human 1.0 brain has roughly 86 billion neurons, each connected to as many as 10,000 other neurons sending unknown number of message types to 1,000 trillion synapses. Added (neural network) layers, faster computers, and more data of the current “SUMPRODUCT,” AI model, will not get us to true incorporeal intelligence.
The AGI model requires an ironic re-think/re-boot, possibly with: biological neuromorphic or quantum computing. Before 2030, we could see a return-to-analog processing via quantum computing (e.g., Xanadu) or synthetic biology generated substrate (e.g., algae based computation).
A new AI winter is coming, but existing AI will live a long life of useful service in highly defined spaces, especially: war, finance, medicine and sensor fusion (listen, speak, see, smell, taste, touch) for AIR and self driving vehicles. War is emphasized (not empathized) because nation states (e.g. USA/DARPA) are a key sources of funding with agenda. AI based smart weapons or “LAWS”, offer nation states new “projection of power” scenarios with global scale and minimal risk.
Today’s CPU/GPUs lack the resolution of real-world analog. Sensors and thoughts (vectors) are down-sampled to binary models to resolutions (reduction) required to feasibly (economically) process in real-time. Executing A2D creates gaps (rounding errors in vectors) of information. Those gaps result in butterfly effects when reintroduced (D2A) into the real-world edge cases not specifically addressed (sampled x N) in training or simulation. These long-tail gaps sometimes result in catastrophe and the question of who’s to blame?
A scaleable transition from today’s AI to tomorrow’s possible AGI requires answers to questions we don’t even know how to ask (yet), but a few obvious questions and needs follow:
1. First act or self determination: If you ask an AIR to fetch you a glass of water, we can engineer that request->response with current architectures (tools). But! The AIR will then halt for an eternity, awaiting your next command. Alexa doesn’t know what Alexa wants
2. Meaning: Current AI consumes energy (calories), but lacks the capacity for empathy and therefore all of its acts are without meaning. A toaster cares as much about your toast as AIR cares about your glass of water, or your appreciation for it. Regardless of interface cleverness, or how hard we try to anthropomorphize AIR, there is no meaning to these task.
3. Chinese Room: John Searle explains his thought experiment best, but in essence: the current AIR has sensors (e.g. microphones), AI (e.g. voice recognition) and manipulators within an ideally defined SLAM space but it does not understand the depth of your request for water, only the request and response. It does not know why you need water, how often or much you need, when you need it, what you do with it, what it’s made of and certainly any qualia (4) (e.g., taste of a glass of cold water on a hot day). It has a zero depth of comprehension of the request “why,” and only posses the minimal facilities to comply to a strict set of coded rules or neural network built from thousands (millions) of sample iterations to economically respond.
4. Qualia: the rich fabric of things or details of things often outside the scope of the request or act itself. For example, a cold glass of water on a hot day might remind you of a fishing trip as a child, and how this glass was almost as satisfying as that sip from an old canteen that had been handed down from a grandparent, connecting you back to the cool streams of your ancestral home. Qualia is the seen-and-unseen fusing, offering a true efficacy of a moment. AI lacks the real-world detail (A2D) and memory structure (7) to scale-up to qualia. Even if we possessed the architectural and platform improvements, without meaning more detail is just data points, an “improved means to an unimproved end” — Thoreau.
5. Agency: how is an AI responsible for its actions? What is the cognitive, moral and social impacts of zero agency? Without accountability and responsibility, how can an AIR achieve an equal place in society? How can AGI achieve autonomy without agency?
6. Morality: Without meaning (2) and agency (5) how can an AGI make (trusted) moral choices? What moral code would AGI follow and how would we judge conflicts between codes? I doubt this challenge is satisfactorily resolved until Human 2.0 and we collectively redefine a shared moral code. The exercise of power, religions and tribal history, create a difficult to define->implement solution to this AGI safeguard detailed in Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom.
7. Audibility: Understanding the how-and-why of AI systems output is a bit like Winston Churchill’s views on Russia — “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”. We need the “key” or an “AI Blackbox” to query how-and-why decisions (output) is made. Legal and insurance requirements will eventually force the need or accept greater risk in the event of (e.g. edge case) failure(s).
8. Associative Memory: Computer memory is address based. This simple format negatively impacts qualia (4) because these memories are only data stores. AI memories are completely abstracted from the data and instructions they represent. Claude Shannon taught us information was equal to surprise, but information in current computer data stores will never experience eureka! because it’s just binary-and-the-void. Quantum or biological processors may perfectly mimic how Human 1.0 stores memories, as a requirement for our humanity to survive a biblical like ascension to Human 2.0.
If/as these challenges are bridged, AGI with a hive-like mind is possible. Training new skills and knowledge development, coupled with the ability to self-determine (1) would simultaneously be available to all other AGI. All knowledge is shared without the Human 1.0 necessity of time intensive learning or caloric intensive growing-up.
AGI would scale-up to post Darwinian time, and we will be unable to follow the Red Queen’s advice to hold position, when Human 2.1 is rushing to push us down another rung on the evolutionary ladder. No matter how vicious nature is, it cannot survive the AI blue-shifting towards it’s heart by the end of this century. There’s no sharing first place at the top rung of the evolutionary ladder. Like Highlander, “There can be only one!”.
We talking monkeys understand we’re on a spaceship called Earth. All the properties of a spaceship are here, minus a: manual, “Captain Smith” or directions to the helm. We have passage classes from first class (G7) , executive (G20) to steerage Rest of World (RoW) and a full crew.
Technology lets us better understand the scope of this spaceship, but not control, or how to wisely consume its resources. With the invention of the: telegraph, tv and internet, communications suddenly became global, allowing RoW to witness these untouchable caste like classes, sparking anger and justifiable demands for entry beyond the velvet rope.
Shared widely by new tools and Metcalfe’s Law, our wolf-like tribal psyche amplifies emotions like feedback when the Earth’s resources are not equally shared. As a global game of keeping up with the Joneses (Kardashians) is constantly communicated and amped; countries, economies and individuals respond with predictable feedback, sometimes with violence.
The earth has roughly 7.6 billion Human 1.0s, we’re outnumbered by a few species like chickens (18 billion), so it’s something more-like “2 chickens in Every Pot” thou many pots go empty. Yet we continue to agressively consume resources without restraint or burden of regret.
Often the lack of economic incentives (ownership), cause us to foolishly compound our footprint when we pollute the planets resources as a “tragedy of the commons”. I don’t know the carrying capacity of this spaceship, but understand there’s a strongly held (eugenic) view that 7.6 billion people can’t all fit into First Class. Especially the new Super Elite Class (Human 2.0) seeking passage at the century.
Pressure is building in a world where everyone wants First Class. Severe wealth bifurcation increases that pressure, leading to a fracturing of civil society. Chaos at the nation state lends itself to a mammalian “fight-or-flight” stimulus->response at the tribal/personal state. In the immediate need for survival, morality is often (temporarily) lost, meaning collapses and life becomes mean. Ripples from chaos and desperation, tend to build into waves (feedback) before hope can return. So-called fake news can foment existing unrest, unrest-to-skirmishes, skirmishes-to-riots, riots-to-battles and battles-to-wars.
“Silent enim leges inter arma” — [In times of war, the law falls silent.]
Fear calls for stronger-and-stronger acts of strong-man leadership, political constriction and totalitarianism, providing potential energy for a revolution. Pressure is proprtional to heat, and heat is known to impact how we think. We are under novo pressures, as steerage literally sinks beneath rising seas.
Fear driven outrage eventually reaches G20 shores, greatly complicating the presumed “natural order of things”. Hoarding wealth and resources while praying–for-the-singularity is the typical response from an aging G20. While sealing borders, denying immigration to young workers from poor countries potentially harms peace and dooms the global economy.
Armed with new AI based LAWS and weapon systems, what is “appropriate response” to Cyber, Synthetic Biology and AIR conflict in the theater of war? What are the “Rules of Engagement” in an all synthetic battle-field?
Do we escalate DEF-CON when their LAWS kills our LAWS?
We need to deeply evaluate new scenarios to avoid the fog-of-war new technology unleashes. Additional pressure of Human 2.0, will complicate the geo-political current status by accelerating the need to understand its economic and military impact. History offers lessons when new and un-predicted pressures increase confusion, resulting in periods of maximum criticality. Todays confusion could create conditions for tomorrows unbridled chaos. Like a single snowflake, no technology is responsible for the avalanche but when confusion becomes critical, the avalanche becomes impossible to predict.
The combination Cyber, Synthetic Biology, AIR and newer “tactical nuclear weapons” require time to establish new meaning. AI systems, without meaning (empathy) will absolutely “just follow orders”. History’s is full of horrific examples of what happens when “orders” (code) becomes the justification for the collapse of meaning .
By 2030 we will witness the redefinition of field operations, and the deployment of “Slaughterbots” AIR, seeking human targets like hungry mosquitoes at the family picnic. Free from moral conflict and collateral damage, AIR based weapons in development like “Slaughterbots” will shrink the kill chain with outsource-like economics, an Uber for Death. Killing a specific person can becomes as easy as swiping right when there’s an-app-for-that.
Cost savings of “De-Militarize” will fund “De-Peace” without the caloric human cost, post traumatic stress disorder, friendly-fire and the expense of “Semper Fi”. Future AIR-vs-AIR combat creates a real win-win scenario for a war with LAWS.
With the JEDI contract, Amazon’s Alexa and StarWars fandom has come to the Pentagon. Soon with the right enchantment, POTUS could shout-out or tweet a call-up for the latest in-stock LAWS war machine.
“Alexa, bring some more freedom to the Middle East.”
Before the “Epic of Gilgamesh,” life extension was always a deeply held desire. Financially, it’s the potential “El Dorado” of wealth. You can follow research on new-and-extended lifespan ranges from 120 (medical), to 1,000 (Kurzweil) this century. Services exist today for $100K/month, that should keep the average multi-millionaire around long enough to find out.
Without rehashing D&T, hope for Human 1.0’s future is concentrated on genetic modification. Germ line gene editing, done in-vitro, is a potential “forever” gift, resulting in upgraded (non-upload/download) Human 2.0. Inital cost will be extraordinarily expensive, limited to the progeny (prodigy) of the aforementioned centennials with extreme wealth (or power). It also might not work, and fail like the Mickey Mouse side-show of frozen heads bobbing in cryogenic tubes, somewhere in the California desert.
As we figuratively kick the snippet down the road, work in genetic editing is supremely well funded. Genetic research is pursued without restriction, rules or lack of resources other than time. Like AIR and AGI, nation states (power) prioritize this research as an existential risk. Despite the outcry of He Jiankui’s highly questionable work on “germ line edits to prevent AIDS” for twins Lulu & Nana, first mover advantages for G20 are as potentially valuable as success in AI’s transition to AGI to corporations and nation states.
Corporate and nation state research in this biological Fight Club, utilize tools like CRISPR while respecting Fight Club’s 1st rule to secure advantage. If successful, (some) Human 1.0 will bifurcate to Human 2.0, unfortunately with a perpetual-worry of Human 2.1.
What is Moore’s Law for Human 2.0?
After 100,000 years, (we) Human 1.0 are vintage, and soon an endangered species! But with 7.6 billion mostly “useless eaters,” it’s doubtful anyone will care. Nation states will prioritize Human 2.0 as “the” geo-technological-political goal, second only to AI for industry (economic) and weapon systems (power). It’s an ugly time for Human 1.0, so “God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” (Kurt Vonnegut) unless you want to ignite the flames of chaos, like throwing a Molotov into a liposuction clinic dumpster.
Eventually, Human 1.0 will atrophy on the second-rung of the evolutionary ladder. Fertility will decline and mass biological caloric requirements will drop to zero. The population might exceed 10 billion by 2050, but I think Human 1.0 is almost extinct or irrelevant in the 22nd century. We’re not just disappearing in 80 years, we’ll be obsolete in 20. We are lost, if we are unable to predict a meaningful role for Human 1.0 in a Human 2.0 dominated (next) century.
Ask for Directions
I get lost a lot, sometimes when just sitting still. It would be easy to dismiss this condition as the proverbial “no sense of direction” but it could just be the defemdable result of having never-ever been here before.
Like the other planets of our solar system, the Earth is in orbit (sort-of, really a common point of gravity or barycenter) around the Sun. The sun is (sort-of) orbiting the milky way, who in turn is (sort-of) orbiting the Virgo cluster. Earth is spinning at 1,180 km/h, trailing the Sun with the tenacity of a younger sibling at 107,000 km/h. The Sun is moving 800,000 km/hr meaning, you’ve never been here either.
If you could jump straight-up to a fixed point in real space, you would find yourself 40 meters in the air after 1 second, the Earth rapidly receding from sight a minute later.
Being lost is an wonderful condition for challenging predictive ability. If we’re right, a bigger role awaits us on the grand chessboard’s checkered stage. We are like premium “Ham”, talking monkeys on an organic spaceship. Earth is an ideal “dot” for talking monkey space travelers; even without the previously mentioned: manual, captain or directions to the bridge.
Because we’re lost, we exist in a sea of weiji, evolving slowly by genetic prediction->response. Over millennia, we predicted our way to the top-rung of the evolutionary ladder, but I predict that status will be ancient, long before we crash into Andromeda in a few billion years. Status lost, hopefully our meaning will survive and have relevance in the far-and-distant future.
We can’t control this ship, but we’re survivors. So hold tight to that wooden thought coffin and start kicking towards new shores.
“Call me Ishmael. Some years ago — never mind how long precisely — having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off — then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.” — Moby Dick by Herman Melville