In one of his last pieces, James Lovelock (1919–2022), famous for the Gaia Hypothesis argues that half-human/half-machines will be vastly superior to humans:
He is very confident that the workings of evolution underpin his thesis but it is hard to see how. First, most life forms, whether snails or mushrooms, pass on life to their offspring without thinking about it. But humans invent things that are not human — and not alive — explicitly by thinking about it and working out every detail. The continuity Lovelock assumes depends on the assumption that there is no meaningful distinction between mental and physical activity.
But that can’t be correct. For one thing, mental activity — the source of our technology — enables humans to make or mar the environment beyond any other species. If we had no technology, we would have about as much environmental impact as chimpanzees. So it’s just not the same thing.
Second, it’s unclear why Lovelock thinks cyborgs would be so much more intelligent than humans. The general trajectory of AI has not gone that way.News, “Pioneer environmentalist: Cyborgs will rule the planet” at Mind Matters News (July 31, 2022)
Takehome: Lovelock is hard to classify. He has boundless faith in both Gaia and AI — in almost anything, it would seem, except humans.
You may also wish to read: Astronomer: ET is more likely to be AI than to be a life form. Royal astronomer Lord Martin Rees explains that, apart from other issues, AI would last much longer in the hostile galactic environment. But if the extraterrestrials are AI, they may simply reiterate indefinitely the programs they were designed to execute long ago — we must hope, friendly ones.
8 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: Pioneer environmentalist: Cyborgs will rule the planet”
If anything, cyborgs/AI/etc. will do whatever they do (good or evil) faster than we can. If any sort of competition amongst them is involved, for resources, energy, survival, etc., then evil will be predominant.
Computer malware can already out-fox us humans and take over machines before we even realize it has happened, so I’d say the conclusion is pretty certain.
(For those taking the view that AI/etc., can only do what we program it to do, then because human beings are predominantly selfish (evil), we will make certain that our creations are predominantly evil also, as a natural consequence.)
Lovelock might be right – cyborgs might be so superior that they will rule the planet, and also be an existential threat to humanity. I don’t think AI by itself is as likely to be such a threat, because as Robert Marks has pointed out, AI systems can never become conscious sentient beings (conscious agents that could deliberately with intent harm humanity), since consciousness, awareness, qualia are all completely and fundamentally non-calculatable and non-algorithmic, whereas computers no matter how advanced can do only one kind of thing – calculate and use algorithms.
Cyborgs, on the other hand, are much more to be feared because they are a nightmarish combination of AI (which can presumably in advanced forms confer greatly enhanced cognition and memory), and human beings with all their tendencies to commit evil acts fueled by greed, lust for power, fear, etc. Such hybrid human/machine beings would be capable of and likely would carry out actions that would be disastrous to humanity. A terrifying thought is that maybe the future of the Terminator movies might actually be on the way.
Cyborgs never existed and will never exist.
“Resistance is futile! You will be assimilated!”
I agree with this. I have a theory.
A cyborg combines mechanical with biological components. This is just another version of man can become eternal. Our brain is downloaded into a superior equivalent or the cyborg contains a brain that is filled with instructions and data. Like the Terminator, the cyborg can carry out missions and shut down at the end. The biological components are problematic in that they would require not only a nutrient solution but waste disposal.
Make no mistake. If such a partially living thing were possible it would be under constant surveillance by the military.
In principle, we have some low-level cyborgs living among us now: people with artificial limbs, cochlear implants, pacemakers, replacement hips, etc. As long as the cyborg brain remains human, the cyborg is essentially a human being – possibly enhanced in some ways, but human in its mind. Of course, as noted above, humans do a lot of evil, so enhanced humans will doubtless do more. On the other hand (no pun intended), such enhancements are (or will be) very expensive and will need maintenance and ongoing support – energy at the very least – making them few and dependent on human society in any foreseeable future. Transhumanism is a pipe dream for anyone alive now, and probably for much longer.
Many futuristic concepts first appear in movies. RoboCop is one example. The idea of a real cyborg will be pursued. The primary problem will be the brain. With security concerns being the biggest problem, anyone undergoing a cyborg conversion will require registration. There will be no cyborgs just walking around. It may be possible that the military would be interested because soldiers that are more durable can survive better on the battlefield. However, I don’t think the average person would want to be in that condition.