Monday, August 22, 2005

A very different way to look at the future

I found that there were a number of things that were difficult to discuss here on SadTech because, to discuss them, I needed to lay out the technological platform that would underpin them all. For example, what do I think will happen with transportation in the future? What will happen with porn? What happens with healthcare? At the core, all of these questions center on the nature of the human body in a 2050 timeframe.

By putting it all together in a book, I am able to answer these questions comprehensively. Here is the book:



At 3:09 PM, Blogger John Peterson said...

Facinating concept. At the moment though, very few technologies have the kind of long-term reliability that humans have. How many computers are still in operating condition after even 15 years? How many cars? We have a ways to go before our manufactured artifacts stay in operating condition for 70+ years like people routinely do.

At 1:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Well, we keep ditching our computers because more advanced versions come over.

But we keep the data around.

When we have bricks that can enclose brains, we'll just remove the brain from the old brick, and stick it into the new brick.

-- Lion

At 7:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the only true humans left will be those of third world countries

and ofcourse crazy religious people that would never consider such a thing

At 1:28 PM, Anonymous davemon said...

I am more inclined to believe that the brains will be enclosed in a super durable android body, probably in the chest cavity.

Android bodies that will be mobile and able to go longer than a living body can without sustenance. As you mention, the human brains' energy requirements are much simpler. I would think some kind of 12 oz can of liquid nutrient and fuel cells and the artificial body is good for a week. Try not eating or drinking for a week!

Many people may not care whether they have mobility anymore, other might. And to be floating in a tank and helpless when the “matrix” goes down might be a bad thing.

Perhaps a combination of android bodies that park themselves, “jack in” for power and nutrients, and let the brain go play, until the person decides they want to go out and get some reality again.

At 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I have this correct, by 2030 we'll be able to send people's brains to Mars to explore. However, by your own admission, by then robotic AI technology will be so advanced that sending a computer and a few robotic explorers to Mars will be the superior option anyways. Hence, why would we send fragile imperfect human minds to Mars when a perfect robot will do? Besides, robots will be even more efficient than brains as robots could use virtually no energy while in transit vs. the ~200 watts needed to keep a brain supplied with nutrients, if you didnt' try to carry the metabolic materials directly.

Also, brains are not immortal. If everyone moves to a virtual world, then within a few centuries all the human brains will have died as the neurons die, and there will be no "real" humans to replace them. Of course you can always duplicate it on computer, but that won't be your consciousness, that will die with your brain. WHat will remain will be a duplicate of you, but it won't be you. This is assuming of course that the by-then superintelligent robots dont' decide that they've had enough of this human pestilence and just go destroy the brain banks in much the same way we'd gladly fo spray toxic materials on a hornet's nest.

I think you've also misestimated the down-to-earth faction. It's not just the "crazy religious people" but a lot of people that would prefer to experience real life, imperfect as it may be, over mouldering away in a glass (or whatever environmental catastrophe of a material we use to replace glass) model of a pop bottle, living in a pseudoworld where beauty is meaningless and existence is meaningless, because everyone looks the same and under the same impression of "beautiful" and you don't live reality, you live in someone else's idea of reality. . Where progress is nonesxistent because there will no longer be any incentive to research because all will be available with the snapping of your imaginary, long-incinerated finger.

Although I'm sure there will be fans, such a virtual existence will be essentially meaningless. Certianly, such an existence doesn't appeal to me.

If your version of the future comes to pass, count me out. I'm gonna go hide in the woods up North until the robots find me and kill me.

At 2:17 PM, Anonymous Doubting Thomas said...

The general point about the advantages of virtual reality holds, but I find the retention of biological brains anachronistic. With the level of neurological understanding required for your scenario uploading should be possible and preferred.

One of the other commenters suggested that no one would be willing to have their consciousness duplicated in silicon because the original would be left behind. For these folks a Moravec transfer (google it) might be in order: gradually replace different neurons and segments of the brain with superior mechanical analogues.

Uploading would allow you to upgrade your mind, create (and continually update) backup copies to ensure survival, etc.

At 8:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me that: If you don't believe in uploading because you believe life would become "meaningless," then it seems to me that the logical conclusion is that life is already meaningless, by your own beliefs.

Specifically named is the concept of "challenge." The idea is that in computers, there will be no more challenges, and thus life will be meaningless.

That is to assert: Life is meaningful, because there is challenge.

I disagree strongly. I believe that life is meaningful in itself, irrespective of challenge.

Note that, with that assertion, God's existence is declared meaningless, should you believe in God. (I do.)

All this said: I strongly believe that there will be plenty of challenges in the virtual worlds, both constructed, and real.

The next assertion is that this is a real world, and that life in a computer is a pseudo-world.

I would argue that every world we've ever lived in, is a pseudo world. From the kids who have never been in gangs, listening to rap music, to the never-cowboys who love songs about being on the range, to the environmentalists with their own ideas, inside their heads, of what nature is and is not. We have never lived in anything but artifice.


I think it'll be as "Real" as it's ever been, and, second, that it will be as Meaningful as Life has ever been.

The Meaning in Life does not come from challenge.

-- Lion Kimbro

At 3:06 PM, Blogger GEEZER322 said...

What happens if you change your
mind after you have been debodyfied?

At 2:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could probably pay to have your body put into cold store, or just have it run around on a treadmill all day.

When your body starts to kill your brain, though- if we don't have the drugs to cure it, your brain would have to escape.

Bodies die, though we don't know for how long.

At 4:48 PM, Anonymous Zeb Rice said...

You wouldn't living someone else's fantasy in the virtual world, you would create your own virtual world.

The main reason why people (myself included) would want to do this is because it would essentially give them god-like powers. Inside a computer system, you can do anything your mind dreams up, even if it's impossible in the physical world.

If you had the choice between being a short-lived human or a long-lived god, which would you choose?

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At 3:57 PM, Blogger sean said...

"Also, brains are not immortal. If everyone moves to a virtual world, then within a few centuries all the human brains will have died as the neurons die, and there will be no "real" humans to replace them."

Contrary to popular belief, brain tissue, neurons, and nerves can be and are regrown in labs with wonderful results. My best friend works for Dana Farber doing brain cancer research and incites mouse brains to regrow damaged neurons all of the time.

Given this, I'd say Marshall is (once again) spot on.

At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you forget that the deaf are already leading the way by using cochlear implants. Now it seems like the next step is to implement vision implants for the blind.

Remember...the deaf, blind, and dumb will lead the way. It is much easier to reach a higher consciousness if you're more aware of each of your senses. I'd love to see an article of yours done from the perspective of a disabled person.

At 3:56 AM, Blogger Argy said...

I can't say I like this idea about android bodies...Do you really want to be unbreakable? And if you do, would you like to be fitted inside a strange chasis? At least Bruce Willis (in the movie "unbreakable") was still in his human body. So, instead of creating metal bodies we can try to refine the method of human transplantation. Or, we could try to make better human armors.
However, I do believe that such technological advancements (involving human health and capabilities) will have a great impact of how our society works. Living forever (or at least for a much longer time) and being able to do things that we cannot do now (bad things as well) isn't going to only fix problems. It's also going to create new ones.

At 1:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing too radical will happen in our lifetimes. Just a gradual bell curve of the improvement of human capabilities.

Wait for the next generation. Then you'll really see some cool stuff happen (that is if there isn't a Butlerian Jihad by then).

At 6:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about a regenerative organic body, instead of what you all seem to think, which is a metal or plastic body. With sufficiently advanced nanotech in place, why not just continuously refresh the body you already have? Kind of like molting.

At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When we put our brains into these banks, who or what is going to be running the systems that generate the virtual reality, and keep our brains alive? Who or what is going to protect our dis-embodied brains from the religous nuts who think this is against Gods will.

What happens if the company that is doing all this for us decides that it's cheaper just to shut down all the brains? At this point we can't put up a defense!

At 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As we advance with computers, what happens when one wakes up. If it is self aware, then I think it might be alive. If it is alive, then is unplugging it murder?

Is it inferior to organice life?

Can I upload my essence into one of these?

The coming 100 years will be interesting, I hope these technologies come on line in time for me.


At 6:18 AM, Blogger Roland said...

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At 3:14 AM, Blogger Roland said...

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At 5:32 AM, Blogger Roland said...

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At 5:57 AM, Blogger Roland said...

I don't think brain removal would be very popular. You're very vulnerable like that, floating in a jar in the "Matrix". Who would look after the system if everybody was inside it? Seems like a kind of sad fate for humanity too ...

The other problem with merging with computers or putting our brains in other bodies is how our consciousness is tied to our physical bodies. Our nervous systems grow as part of our bodies and adapting to new ones is difficult.

Uploading to a computer is even more of a problem, since there's no proof you are actually conscious on the other side. I believe Ray Kurzweil on stuff lake nanotech, biotech and aging, I'm much more sceptical about AI.

Still, I think immersive virtual reality will be a pretty big deal quite soon. Nanobots will eventually do the same thing as the Vertebrane, but without even the need for surgery.

Sorry about the three deleted posts, I had to delete them to fix a mistake. :-)

At 2:42 AM, Blogger Braxton Perry said...

Hello Marshal, you changed the Drake equation.

I think you right an a lot of people will discrad their bodies. I would be vey careful and wait a few generations before I discard mine.

But now you have to look at all planets equally for life because you don't nee water and oxygen for intelligent life.

At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Discarding the body looks to me like a superflous question, similar to the problem of building stables for horses along an interstate. Cars do not need stables.

The point is making the brain immortal, by replacing gradually neurons with artificial devices. Then you can set this immortal brain wherever you want, even in your old mortal body, with no risks.

The weak point of this "body discarding theory" is viewing the brain as a blackbox. When the knowledge and technology needed to detach it from the body, put it in a box and wire it to a computer, will be available, we would likely be able, as another user has already pointed out, to re-engineer the brain itself. The brain will not be a (almost) blackbox anymore, at that stage.

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