Futurist Predicts We'll Be Able to Upload Our Thoughts onto the iCloud by 2030

Wednesday, 10 September 2014 - 10:42AM
Artificial Intelligence
Neuroscience
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 - 10:42AM
Futurist Predicts We'll Be Able to Upload Our Thoughts onto the iCloud by 2030

The direction of human evolution is unclear; depending on whom you ask, there are trends towards a superintelligent new species of human (at least for the wealthy), and/or self-directed evolution that turns us all into cyborgs.

 

One expert, cited by Scientific American, takes the widespread cyborgism route: "Parkinson's patients and the deaf already can have computerized devices implanted. By the 2030s this will become ubiquitous. Computers will be small enough to enter our brains noninvasively through our capillaries," said Ray Kurzweil, futurist and director of engineering at Google. 

 

He goes so far as to predict a future in which we will be able to upload our entire intelligence onto the iCloud: "One application will be to extend our neocortex (the region of the brain where we do our thinking) in the cloud, just as today I can extend the intelligence of my smartphone in the cloud." Considering the recent gross privacy violations of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and other celebrities that were made possible, at least in part, by the communal nature of the iCloud, it's likely safe to call this projected future dystopian.

 

Others took the posthuman, designer baby route: "The most obvious driver of physiological evolution in the future would be human manipulation of genes to favor certain characteristics - if we could learn to do that," said S. Jay Olshansky, biodemographer at the University of Illinois. "The first thing we would do is try to get rid of the baggage that evolution left us with - so the diseases and disorders linked to aging bodies would probably be our first targets."

 

Still others believed that evolution is coming to a virtual halt: "In a population as large as ours, there is no way we will acquire any meaningful biological novelties. We will find ways of compensating for what we perceive as deficiencies, but unless some disaster horrendously fragments our population, there is no way we are going anywhere in terms of biological evolution," said Ian Tattersall, paleoanthropologist at the Museum of Natural History. Similarly, geneticist Steve Jones of University College London asserted that "selection is more or less at an end in developed countries. If you look globally things are different because for demographic reasons there will be an enormous increase in the proportion of Africans which will change the world's genetic balance for skin color and other genes; but within the developed world so far this has had little effect."

 

But ultimately, the safest answer is probably that we just don't know. Paleoanthropologist Carol V. Ward of the University of Missouri said, "Evolution is not a process that allows us to predict what will happen in the future. We can see what happened in the past only. To do that, we would need to know what was causing some individuals to leave more surviving descendants than others, and to be sure that that selection pressure would be maintained for hundreds or thousands of generations, and know what the genetic and phenotypic basis for the variance underlying these differences was. We don't and really can't know any of those things, so all I can say is that we should come back in a million years and see what happened!"

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