Videos10 Unsettling Future Technologies by AdminAugust 30, 2018September 28, 20180554 Share0 Transcript 0:01 On this channel, I often talk about advanced alien civilizations and speculate about what 0:05 they might be like. 0:07 But the fact is, if you think about it from the perspective of the rest of the universe, 0:11 we ourselves are an advanced alien civilization. 0:14 And, with technological advancement, whether alien or here on earth, will come options 0:19 for our society where we all may want to pause and think before we take the plunge. 0:25 Some of these scenarios are more immediate, and if they come to pass as they appear right 0:29 now, will be realities in just a few years. 0:33 Others lie further ahead in the future, but if all of this is managed carefully then they 0:37 all offer our species great advantages. 0:40 If mismanaged though, they could be catastrophic, so here are ten unsettling potential future 0:45 technologies. 0:48 Number 10. 0:49 The Genetic Engineering of Humanity 0:51 As the old saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. 0:55 In this case that means that technologies initially intended to improve life, can step 1:00 past certain boundaries and go into unsettling territory. 1:04 Nowhere is this more apparent than in the science of genetics. 1:08 Humans have practiced genetic modification for thousands of years through selective breeding. 1:12 We’ve built our system of agriculture on it, producing corn from what was originally 1:16 a type of grass, or cows selectively bred from the aurochs, which are currently extinct, 1:21 though there are efforts to change that. 1:24 But with the advent of modern genetics, we gain an increasing amount of power over just 1:28 what we can do by directly modifying the genetics of plants and animals. 1:33 But, this also applies to us. 1:36 Genetic research and modification is already revolutionizing how we treat and prevent disease. 1:41 This is a good thing. 1:42 But it also offers other possibilities, such as the creation of designer babies, that can 1:47 have whatever traits their parents might want; an activity that gets a bit close to eugenics. 1:52 But, if unchecked can go much, much further. 1:56 In addition to creating designer humans, ideal soldiers could be created by unscrupulous 2:01 governments, or even entirely new, synthetic species of animal or even humans with abilities 2:06 that natural evolution did not provide. 2:09 Think superhumans. 2:10 In short, at some point, we will need to ask ourselves if we truly want to be the lords 2:15 of our own evolution, or if such things are best left to nature. 2:20 9. 2:21 Shrinking Technology 2:23 There was a time, not long ago, when to get the computing power of a modern cell phone, 2:27 you needed a computer the size of a building. 2:30 This is no longer the case and as our electronics become increasingly more advanced, they are 2:35 likely to continue the trend of miniaturization, including increasingly tiny microphones and 2:41 cameras. 2:42 Quite tiny cameras and microphones are already commercially available, see your cell phone, 2:46 and work to miniaturize them further goes on. 2:49 Ridiculously tiny cameras are of particular use in medicine for example to see inside 2:54 the human body at levels unheard of to us now, but obviously such things would also 2:58 be useful for espionage. 3:01 Micro Cameras and tiny microphones used for spying are of course nothing new, but as electronics 3:06 have grown cheaper, more easily available, and tinier, it’s now possible for regular 3:10 people to spy on each other on a level that actual spies during the cold war could only 3:15 dream about. 3:16 Where will all of this end, will someday potentially all of us be under the view of imperceptibly 3:21 tiny surveillance devices by anyone, government or otherwise, with access to such miniaturized 3:26 equipment? 3:28 8. 3:29 The Democratization of Advanced Technology 3:32 It used to be that technology, particularly biotechnology, was solely the realm of the 3:37 very few that had access to enormous amounts of funding. 3:40 And, even during those days, there were mishaps, unintentional though they were. 3:46 Regarding nuclear technology, during the Castle Bravo nuclear test in 1954, the weapon yielded 3:51 2.5 times it’s predicted energy due to a mistake by the scientists. 3:56 While it may never be viable to create a nuclear weapon in one’s own garage, it’s certainly 4:01 now possible for rogue governments to do so. 4:04 This is also true for chemical or biological weaponry, and eventually someone might create, 4:09 intentionally or not, a pathogen so deadly that it could cause the extinction, or near-extinction 4:14 of the human species. 4:16 As the technology to do this becomes ever more accessible, it’s anyone’s guess what 4:20 someone in their garage might do. 4:23 7. 4:24 The Loss of Mental Privacy 4:26 In an age where privacy certainly isn’t as easy to come by as it used to be, especially 4:30 on the internet, the one place that still seems absolutely inviolable may some day not 4:36 be. 4:37 This is the human mind itself, and as scanning techniques, understanding of the brain, and 4:41 technology improves it may become possible, at least in principle, to completely decode 4:46 a person’s thoughts. 4:48 Termed thought identification, this currently rudimentary area of neuroscience is at a level 4:53 where things like recognition of objects can be discerned through brain scans. 4:57 One the one hand it may not be of much use to know when a person is recognizing a mundane 5:02 object like a tomato, but how about a criminal recognizing a crime scene? 5:07 And, there is also the question of reading someone’s immediate intentions. 5:11 Neuroscientists can see, through scanning techniques, what a person’s choice will 5:15 be in an immediate situation, at least to a degree, before the person physically acts. 5:21 It may be cheating to know what someone will do while playing a boardgame a split second 5:25 before they make a move, but what about a car anticipating the driver’s actions before 5:30 they can physically act? 5:32 That might save lives, or improve the lives of people who cannot speak on their own. 5:36 But, this is a technology that we will need to weigh the ethics of heavily, since every 5:41 aspect of it seems to carry both immense pluses, in the right situations, but also horrors 5:46 if misused. 5:47 Do we want a world where scanned thoughts are admissible in court? 5:51 How how about the decoded thoughts of one individual being sent to another person’s 5:55 head? 5:56 Can there ever be secrets in such a world? 5:58 If this comes to pass, we’re in for a strange world indeed, should advanced thought identification 6:03 ever become a reality. 6:05 6.The Indistinguishable Being 6:09 Whenever I’ve done videos touching on the dangers of artificial intelligence, I always 6:13 get a string of comments of two types. 6:16 Those that fear it and view it as the chief existential threat to the human species, and 6:20 those that don’t think it can ever become a reality. 6:22 In other words, the jury is still out. 6:25 Yet the technology marches onward nonetheless. 6:28 Regardless of whether superintelligent A.I. will ever be a reality, or a threat, one thing 6:33 we can be more certain of is that our computers are becoming, at least outwardly, increasingly 6:38 human-like. 6:39 At some point, it may become virtually impossible to tell if you’re having a conversation, 6:44 say by phone, with a human or a machine. 6:46 We’ve known for awhile that we were eventually going to reach this point. 6:50 In 1950 Alan Turing devised a test that distinguishes a machine’s ability to, well, act human. 6:57 In recent years, there have been claims of computers that have passed the Turing test, 7:01 though this is, of course, debated. 7:03 But one thing seems certain, there will come a day, probably sooner rather than later, 7:07 where machines will at least seem like they are human and thinking, even though they are 7:13 not. 7:14 5. 7:15 The Von Neumann Trap 7:17 The danger here is machine reproduction. 7:19 Can a machine make another machine? 7:22 Well, yes, we can to a large degree automate factories to make cars for example, though 7:27 this is still something heavily dependent on human programmers and maintenance. 7:30 But it’s not hard to envision a day where that may no longer be the case, and the programming 7:35 and maintenance of machines is largely done by other machines, and they may ultimately 7:40 do a better job at that than humans leading to a fully automated means of production. 7:45 What this means for the employment of the human race remains to be seen, but the idea 7:50 that machines can make other machines may continue from where it’s unfolding now to 7:54 a much more efficient and advanced state where machines can make copies of themselves quite 7:59 autonomously. 8:00 This is an almost natural outcome if you think about it, it’s what life does. 8:04 We are self-replicating organic machines in a sense, and this all would simply be applying 8:09 nature to technology. 8:12 The ultimate use for self-replicating machines is, of course, colonizing the galaxy. 8:17 One could create a handful of such machines and send them out into the universe to go 8:21 from star system to star system to collect materials and make more copies of themselves, 8:26 and within a relatively short time, at least on geologic scales, we could have such a machine 8:31 in every star system in the galaxy. 8:34 Eventually though, such machines if left unchecked might consume entire galaxies, and one hopes 8:39 that if there are alien civilizations out there, they have not made this mistake lest 8:44 earth end up victim to someone else’s self-replicating probes, or home-grown nanotechnological counterparts 8:50 that could consume our planet if control of them is lost, though that may not be the doomsday 8:55 scenario that is sometimes predicted, but instead a much slower process that could potentially 9:00 be mitigated. 9:01 But what of another possibility? 9:04 What of another kind of machine reproduction, that of machines propagating out into the 9:08 universe to create not just other machines, but biological beings? 9:13 What of a machine that can create humans, rather than humans traveling to distant systems 9:17 themselves? 9:19 Perhaps humans genetically tailored by their creator von neumann machines for the environments 9:23 of other exoplanets? 9:25 I recently spoke with Dr. Avi Loeb of Harvard University about just such possibilities in 9:30 an interview for my new long-form show, Event Horizon, a relevant clip from the interview 9:35 is linked below and the full show debuts on September 20th. 9:39 Or you can go to YouTube.comBACKSLASHeventhorizonshow, all one word or hit the link below, to subscribe. 9:46 Be sure to hit the bell to get the notifications. 9:50 4. 9:51 Nanoweaponry and the Invincible Soldier 9:53 While it’s unclear what the ultimate end is for nanotechnology and what level of threat 9:59 it might present to the human race — there may be far easier ways to devastate this world 10:03 if one really wanted to, imagine a colony of humans in space that decided they want 10:08 to cause the extinction of humans on earth by redirecting an asteroid towards us if we 10:12 didn’t give them 1 million space dollars, but nanotech itself may provide a more targeted 10:18 threat. 10:20 If this technology pans out, it may allow for clandestine or battlefield uses, such 10:25 as clouds of airborne nanotech that can configure themselves to identify a target, cloud around 10:30 them and ignite as a sort of fuel-air weapon. 10:33 This would allow nations to create an invisible, perhaps invincible soldier. 10:37 How would one fight such a thing? 10:41 3. 10:42 Geoengineering 10:43 One thing regarding space exploration that we’re just now beginning to talk about is 10:46 the idea that we hypothetically could take a dead planet such as Mars and terraform it 10:51 to become habitable for earth life. 10:53 While it’s not yet entirely clear how feasible terraforming will turn out to be, Mars for 10:58 example was recently determined not to have enough carbon dioxide for the standard method 11:02 behind that task, it won’t have been the first planet humans have terraformed. 11:07 That title goes to Earth, we’ve been changing this world large scale for quite some time 11:12 now, and we gain an increasing ability to change it even further the more we advance. 11:17 Eventually there may come a time where it’s necessary to change it, whether to mitigate 11:21 climate change or even improve the conditions of this world and make the planet better. 11:25 At what point will this world no longer be a natural planet, but one with only remnants 11:30 of nature? 11:31 Is it that already? 11:33 2. 11:35 Brain Hacking 11:37 If you can read a human brain’s thoughts, might you also be able to change and manipulate 11:41 them? 11:42 While this might have profound effects on things like treating mental illness, or even 11:45 crime prevention, at what point do things go too far and leave the realm of what we 11:49 would consider normal as humans? 11:52 Is it dangerous to delve into this subject in a world where politicians function on the 11:56 concept of changing enough minds to get elected? 11:59 What of dictatorships? 12:00 What of an artificial superintelligence controlling the collective minds of humanity? 12:04 When do we become the Borg? 12:07 Number 1 Eternal Digital Damnation 12:11 Virtual reality technology is continually marching forward hallmarked by increasing 12:15 realism. 12:16 It seems the mind and technology may begin to merge and virtually reality might become 12:21 a matter of not tricking the brain externally through the senses, but tricking the brain 12:25 through a direct interface with technology. 12:28 While it’s not yet clear how realistic that could be, those technologies are early in 12:32 their development, one could speculate that there could come a time where seamless science 12:37 fiction-like virtual reality could, well, become a reality. 12:41 This is usually depicted in science fiction sometimes as a utopia, a place where existence 12:46 is perfect, or a dystopia even if most people inside don’t realize it one, such as The 12:51 Matrix. 12:52 But there is a dark side to all of this, if technology can be pushed to this level, one 12:57 could also just as easily create a virtual hell. 13:00 This could be done for punitive reasons as a sort of prison, or just for fun by some 13:04 sadistic entity in which to imprison and torture other entities. 13:09 And there you have it, ten scenarios where coming or hypothesized future technologies 13:13 might go horribly wrong. 13:15 But it can also be said that the development of these technologies can be guided to only 13:19 good ends by a vigilant human species. 13:21 We may well only develop these technologies for positive use, that is still possible. 13:26 But I leave you with one thought, what happens if we reach a point where superintelligent 13:30 technology can create and improve its own technology? 13:34 Thanks for listening! 13:35 I am futurist and science fiction author John Michael Godier currently living in fear of 13:38 a world controlled by technologically superintelligent plants eternally paying me back for years 13:43 of salads! 13:44 Never augment your plants with intelligence and be sure to check out my books at your 13:47 favorite online book retailer and subscribe to my channels for regular explorations of 13:51 the interesting, weird and unknown aspects of this amazing universe in which we live.