Transhumanist Utopia

We are living in a proto-utopia, that is to say, a utopia defined as evolving, in its early stages. The utopia can be defined in such a way due to the exponential growth of information and technology, which ‘evolves’ our standard of living. Eventually, all human problems cease to exist, due to the development and implementation of artificial intelligence and nanotechnology, which clearly allows for the term utopia.

The utopia we live in can then be described as being in its ‘primitive’ stages, as we are in the “knee of the curve” in the plot of the exponential growth of technology. The knee is where the point in time is rapidly approaching the surge of intelligence. This identification is correct, as only recently have we begun to notice and feel the effects of the massive changes brought in our lives by technology. Indeed, previous generations now have trouble using and keeping up with the technology of today.

linear vs exponential

Many educational programs and institutions have even been created to address these issues of accelerating growth. One such institution is Singularity University, whose mission is “to educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges” (singularityu.org).

Like the technological singularity, we find with great difficulty to see the events in a transhuman future. Since the technological singularity posits the end of human suffering, then the human condition and thus humans ceases to exist. This new state is the being that has transcended the human condition, or transhumanism.

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This idea of higher being has spawned a new movement by the same name, also known as h+. The transhumanist agenda is to make revolutionary technology (A.I., nanotechnology) available to everyone and not just the intellectually or wealthy elite, ensuring the best possible posthuman state.

The Technological Singularity

In the rapid acceleration of technology, there comes a point in time termed the technological singularity. The singularity can be described as a runaway effect from the growth of technology; computer intelligence will equal human intelligence, and then skyrocket past the limitations of humans. In fact, computing power is predicted to exceed that of all human brains sometime around 2045. Even though the human population grows at an exponential rate, the acceleration of the growth of computing power far outstrips the growth of human population.

This reflects Moore’s Law, which states that every two years, the number of transistors in an integrated computer circuit doubles, which means that processing power doubles as well. These circuits haven’t become much larger, but rather the transistors become smaller.

The shrinking size of transistors and the number of them being bought.

While apocalyptic, dystopian futures have been depicted in films such as The Terminator and The Matrix, this is far from the case. Instead of bloodthirsty robots dedicated to the eradication of humans or the exploitation of humans as resources, the singularity posits that the event would bring an end to all human problems, such as poverty, hunger, pollution, etc.

There are a few methods by which the singularity could be achieved. One of these would be the development of an artificial intelligence. The development of an intelligent machine with the ability to build an even more intelligent machine would absolutely cause an “intelligence explosion”, which would be the last machine that humans would need to build. An artificial intelligence is essentially a computer program that is able to think, and thus would be able to learn and evolve. Smartphones have an “intelligent personal assistant that helps you get things done just by asking”, whom many people recognize as Siri. While Siri is an early venture into developing artificial intelligence, it is not a true ‘thinking machine’.

Another method to achieve singularity is the merger of humans and technology for humans to keep up with advancing technology. As the interaction between humans and technology increase and the development of nanotechnology, which is technology done at one-billionth of a meter, progresses, science fictions such as microchips implanted in the body becomes reality. Seen in the graphs before of Moore’s Law, transistors are on the nanometer scale, and are becoming smaller and smaller. Nanorobots will allow humans to physically, mentally, and emotionally perform better than before, as they vastly increase the capability of human knowledge and optimize biological mechanics and processes. This can be thought of as being able to download calculus into a child’s brain in a mere instant.

Evidence of increasing interaction between human and technology is shown in the integration of smartphones into human life. Besides optimizing the human body, the brain would be able to communicate directly to a computer; think watching Netflix when your eyes are closed. Also, since nanoengineering operates on such a small scale, significant progress in the field would allow for the precise manipulation of matter, ending crises such as hunger and pollution.

The Significance of Smartphones

Smartphones are a prime symbol of the technological period today, the Information Age. They allow us to communicate with others at high speed and allow us to find information with a brief motion of the fingers.  Everything a personal desktop computer or laptop is able to do, a smartphone can at just a fraction of the size. It is essentially a portable source of information.

Walking throughout Fordham, being in an area where someone is not glanced down looking at their phone is an impossible task.  This suggests that smartphones have become an integral part of life and thus society.

The first cell phone call was made 42 years ago. The advancements made in technology within these forty-two years compared to the advancements made in the same period of time in any previous century is far greater. This means that the growth of information and technology is exponential.

In addition to the Information Age, we also live in the post-industrial society due to the replacement of human labor with machines. This is a social system where economic activity is concerned with providing services based on knowledge more than the industrial society that is concerned with producing goods. Compared to an industrial society, people are more involved with others and providing services of knowledge rather than producing goods from factories.