Videos

10 Unsettling Future Technologies

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.

Related posts

10 Futuristic Construction technologies | Future constructions | Explore engineering

Admin

Creative thinking – how to get out of the box and generate ideas: Giovanni Corazza at TEDxRoma

Admin

Ideas That Matter: Ambient Technology and Healthy Living

Admin